Facing what appears to be one of its biggest challenges of the season, the men’s soccer team will head to Providence this Saturday to face the No. 11 Brown Bears.
After going winless and goalless in their first three Ivy League matches, the Bulldogs (4–7–4, 1–2–2 Ivy) have gained momentum entering their final two games. The Elis earned a 2–1 come from behind victory on Oct. 20 against Penn and added another point in the standings with last Saturday’s comeback 1–1 draw against Columbia.
“It’s been a good time to get goals in these last two games,” captain and goalkeeper Bobby Thalman ’13 said. “It’s a huge encouragement going into Saturday.”
Defender Nick Alers ’14 said the Bulldogs understand the difficult test that Brown will provide. Undefeated in the Ivy League this year, the Bears (12–1–2, 4–0–1 Ivy) have not dropped a match since a 1–0 defeat against Fordham on Sept. 9.
Thalman said that the well-roundedness of the Bears is one of the team’s strengths. Brown has allowed 0.57 goals per game in Ivy League play — the best in the conference — and ranks third in the conference with 1.6 goals per game.
Alers said he expects to face a very athletic team that features players capable of capitalizing on their opponents’ mistakes.
To prepare for the Bears’ intensity, both Alers and Thalman noted that the Elis have spent the week practicing with high energy. Alers added that the team will use its play against Columbia in the second half of last weekend’s game as a model for the rest of the season. During that half, the Bulldogs applied much more pressure on Columbia by allowing only three shots and created more scoring opportunities, which led to a 69th minute equalizer.
The Bulldogs will also attempt to learn from the teams’ meeting last year, which the Bulldogs lost 1–0. Alers said the Elis did not begin the game ready to face Brown’s speediness.
“We’ll go into this year’s game much more prepared knowing how fast they’re going to play and how intense the game is going to be,” Alers said. “We’re going to try to play them as we wanted to play them last year … We want to take the game to them.”
Thalman added that while last year’s match was a difficult loss, it also showcased the Bulldogs’ toughness. He noted that the Eli defense held Brown’s offense in check most of the game.
“Obviously we’ll remember how close we were to beating them last year, and we’ll take that into this Saturday and use it as motivation,” Thalman said.
Kickoff will begin at 7 p.m. tomorrow in Providence.