Women fight hard in tough Final Four loss
The women’s soccer team’s magical season came to a screeching halt last Friday evening at the hands of the Washington University in St. Louis Bears. The Judges were defeated 2-1 in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament, the furthest Brandeis has ever advanced in the program’s history.
This was not the first time that the squad and WashU were matched up, as they had previously battled during the competitive portion of the University Athletic Association Conference schedule.
The Judges were dominated in that contest, ultimately losing 2-0 in a game that featured few shot attempts. In the Final Four bout, Brandeis had its opportunities and was able to make the game closer but ultimately fell.
The Judges were forced to play with their backs against the wall for much of the contest, as the Bears found the back of the net early in the game in the sixth minute. However, the Judges were resilient and mustered enough offense to tie up the game in the first half.
As she has been all year, forward Cidney Moscovitch ’17 was the catalyst for the team’s scoring opportunities. Moscovitch broke free on the end line enough to lift a cross into the box that was booted through by midfielder Haliana Burhans ’18. Burhans’ score in the 22nd minute was her fourth goal of the season and tied up the game at one apiece.
WashU came into the game with one of the top defenses in the country, having not allowed a goal in almost two months.
The Judges were able to continue their aggressive play for the rest of the first half by outshooting WashU 3-1 in the final 23 minutes. This run would not extend to the second half, where a different tempo was set.
Once again, WashU opened the half with a crucial score. The goal came just three minutes and 18 seconds into the second half off a slick corner kick. On a scramble off an attempted clear from a Brandeis defender, WashU would blast a shot that goalkeeper Alexis Grossman ’17 was able to get a hand on but could not corral. The shot would give WashU the 2-1 lead as they tried to advance to the NCAA Championship.
While Brandeis was able to control possession for most of the second half and had a few quality looks, they were not able to convert the chances into goals. Grossman did all she could to keep the Judges in the game, playing admirably in her last collegiate contest.
While the Judges were eliminated from the tournament and had to settle for a Final Four appearance, WashU went on to win the championship game on Saturday in penalty kicks versus Messiah College.
The Judges had a tremendous run to even get to the National Semifinals. The most intense drama came in the team’s upset of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, in the Elite Eight.
In what will undoubtedly be remembered as an all-time classic, the Judges were victorious in an overtime victory at home. William Smith had been able to send the game into overtime with a few seconds left, before Brandeis rallied to win the extra period.
Even before the intense Elite Eight matchup with William Smith, the Judges were forced to contend with some of the top teams in the country.
The squad had to go through Virginia Wesleyan College in the first round and then a tough matchup on the road with the No. 5 team in the country, The College of New Jersey. In the matchup with TCNJ, the Judges barely survived in a penalty kick shootout. Their final test of the season before facing off with William Smith was a closely-decided 1-0 victory at home against a tough McDaniel College team.
While the Judges are decidedly upset about their season coming to a close, they have a lot to be proud of. The Judges will close out their season with an overall record of 16-4-4 and a conference record of 2-3-2.With only one loss at home, the Judges were able to secure a well-deserved playoff berth and deliver an incredible performance to their hometown crowd. Their eight-game win streak proved to make the difference in their season. After the most impressive season in University history, the squad will have high expectations going into next season.
As Defender Michaela Friedman ’17 wrote in an email to the Justice, “Going to the final four was an amazing experience, one that I know not everyone gets to experience and for that I am extremely thankful. We didn't really know what to expect going down there, I don't think I could have imagined a better experience.”