The fourth-ranked men’s soccer team continued on their road through the tough University Athletic Association with two away games last week in nonconference action at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a conference game at the University of Rochester. After extending its 10 game winning streak against MIT last Tuesday, the team was unfortunate to end its run against Rochester on Saturday. 

The Judges began Saturday’s game facing a very resilient Rochester team coming off a UAA loss against New York University and were unable to climb out of a two-goal deficit, falling 2-1 to the hosts.

In the first half, Rochester proved to be a very even match for the Judges, matching each of Brandeis’s four shots. Both teams found themselves in very good areas throughout the first half but were unable to finish their chances. 

The first scoring opportunity came from a ninth-minute throw- in for the host Yellowjackets. An impressively long throw-in reached the head of Rochester senior forward Alex Swanger. However, he only managed to direct the point-blank header straight at goalkeeper Joe Graffy ’15, who easily made the save to keep the game level at 0-0. 

In the 33rd minute another golden chance came about, this time for the Judges. Forward Mike Lynch ’17 was put through on net by a cross from forward Tyler Savonen ’15. One-on-one with the keeper, Lynch failed to get the ball through with Rochester sophomore goalkeeper Michael Shatkin reaching it just in time to clear away. With those two chances wasted, the half ended 0-0. 

“The best player in my eyes was Savonen, because he held the ball up really well and really created a lot of offense while [forward] Michael Soboff ’15 was out,” said forward Zach Vieira ’17. 

“He put in a lot of work and showed why he is a leader on the team.”

In the second half, the play began to open up much more for both teams. One of the best chances of the game came quite early on, with Swanger once again gathering in a long throw in the 49th minute but  was unable to convert as his shot hit off the crossbar. 

The deadlock was finally broken by Rochester sophomore midfielder Ben Swanger in the 57th minute, when the ball made its way through some confusion to the right side of the pitch and reached the midfielder, who curved the ball into the far post and left Graffy no chance of producing a save. 

Though the goal produced prolonged pressure by the Judges to score an equalizer, they were quickly deflated by a second Rochester goal in the 71st minute. Rochester junior defender Jeffrey Fafinski swung in a corner toward goal that managed to sneak past Graffy into the goal for a 2-0 lead. 

“[Rochester] just had two very lucky shots, but it's soccer and the ball cannot always bounce your way,” remarked Vieria.

The Judges got a goal back in the 86th minute when midfielder Foti Andreo ’15 netted his first goal of the season at a pivotal moment. 

The midfielder tucked the ball inside the right post from 25 yards out to pull the Judges within one goal and nearly scored an equalizer just two minutes later, but could not finish a pass from close to the net. The Judges walked away with their first loss on the season inches from forcing extra time. 

Earlier in the week, the Judges took down MIT in a close game, using a 45th minute goal from midfielder Josh Ocel ’17 to sneak past the Engineers 1-0 on Tuesday.

After a scoreless first half that saw the Judges outshoot the Engineers 8-4, Ocel collected a pass from Savonen near the top of the 18-yard box and chipped it over MIT senior goalkeeper Sam Cannon. 

The goal, which ultimately stood as the game-winner, was Ocel’s fourth on the season and was his second game-winner of the year.

The Engineers did their best to produce an equalizer after Ocel’s quick goal, outshooting Brandeis 7-5 in the half—five in a row over an eight-minute stretch that were all turned away by Graffy.

The Judges ended the contest with a 13-11 shot advantage, including two of the final three shots in the game.

With the loss to Rochester, the Judges fall to 11-1 overall on the season and 1-1 in UAA play, but Vieira says he does not think the loss will affect the team too much as the season progresses.

“We play a 19-game schedule so we were going to lose eventually,” he said. “We need to learn from this and move forward and work harder so it doesn't happen again.”

The Judges will look to resume their winning ways tonight against Massachusetts Maritime College at 7 p.m. before welcoming Carnegie Mellon University on Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. and Emory University on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. in a pair of UAA matchups.

—Avi Gold contributed reporting.