Club falls after incredible run
The men’s soccer team’s season ended on Friday afternoon in disappointing fashion as they fell to Calvin College in a nail-biting Final Four matchup. The Judges controlled much of the game, narrowly missing a handful of solid offensive opportunities, but ultimately lost to the Knights in Salem, Virginia.
Despite nearly being left out of the NCAA Tournament, the squad hit their stride at the perfect juncture in the season, coming just a few breaks away from claiming the coveted Division III championship trophy. And though the team finds itself feeling that it dropped a game it deserved to win, its inspiring run to Salem should serve as a source of tremendous pride for years to come.
Postseason soccer is notoriously multifaceted, at once elegant and chaotic, and the Judges’ Friday match did not disappoint. The game was physical from the start, with each team battling for every possession, every position and every opportunity to strike first.
Despite the intense focus and fast pace of play in the first half, neither team was able to net a goal, with Calvin narrowly missing multiple shots thanks to a series of dazzling saves from goalie Ben Woodhouse ’18. Woodhouse was the unquestioned star of the day, showing off his athleticism and field awareness throughout the match and amassing several highlight plays en route to four awe-inspiring stops.
The game’s lone goal came in the 74th minute. Following a foul just outside of the box, which resulted in a red card for defenseman Thales Brito ’17, the Knights were able to capitalize on a free kick that led to a scrum at the goal line, just barely chipping home what proved to be the game’s decisive goal despite Woodhouse’s best efforts.
The squad had several opportunities to put goals on the board, the most notable of which came in the 29th minute, when midfielder Brandon Miskin ’18 appeared to have Knight’s junior goalie Nate Van Ryn out of position only to miss wide and hit the far post. Though the Judges had a few more opportunities to pull ahead, they failed to convert time and again, missing several attempts they surely wish they could have back.
“I still feel we were the better team in the Final Four match and [that we] outplayed our opponents,” co-captain Kyle Robinson ’17 wrote to the Justice. Robinson served as the backbone of Brandeis’s stifling defense, growing into the team’s primary source of composure.
Asked to reflect on his final season, Robinson stated that “since day one, our goal was to win a national championship. We didn’t complete that goal.”
The star defenseman proceeded to touch on the trials it took to strengthen the team for a deep postseason run, stating that “being ranked No. 2 at the beginning of the season, we got ahead of ourselves.”
Robinson continued, “[I]t just took us time to gel as the season went on. Once this happened, we started to get hot and carried that momentum into the playoffs.” Despite that wave of captivating momentum, the squad was unable to see their dream season to its end.
Finally, with a wealth of emotion in his words, Robinson stated, “This season was one of the best times of my life, and I will always remember the 38 players that were part of this team. As a captain, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to lead into battle. I’ll miss going to work every day with the guys I care about most, and that’s the hardest part about this season being over.”
Though Loop Road played host to no parade, the student body should celebrate this team with the reverence and appreciation they deserve, as they have proven themselves to be champions in their own right.