The Brandeis women’s soccer team began the season with two games this past week. They lost the first match to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Engineers, but won the second against the Lasell College Lasers. After a disappointing Final Four loss at the end of last season, the squad is looking to set themselves up for success this fall. However, with the first two games in the books, the Judges are beginning to get a sense of the work they must put in to meet such a goal.

Judges 5, Lasell 3

On Sunday, Brandeis traveled to Newton to take on the Lasers. In just the third minute, Lasers forward Casey Meissner scored the first goal by Lasell against Brandeis since 2015. Just 13 minutes later, the Judges’ Hannah Maatallah ’19 bounced back with a goal of her own to tie the score. Again, the Lasers went ahead 2-1 after a goal by forward Carly Zdanek, but the Judges managed to tie it with a tough shot by forward Samantha Schwartz ’18 from the left corner.

In the second half the team started off strong, scoring their first goal off a Lasell defensive error. Next, forward Sasha Sunday ’19 executed a perfect corner kick to set up a goal by defender Mackenzie Smith ’21. Brandeis led 4-2 until Zdanek scored her second goal of the game in the 64th minute. This back and forth action seemed unable to come to a stop until forward Haliana Burhans ’18 put the Judges up by two with 18 minutes to play, and the Lasers weren’t able to recover.

Judges 2, MIT 3

On Friday, the Judges took a trip to Cambridge to challenge the Engineers, where they fell three goals to two. The game began with a quick eighth-minute goal from Schwartz, which marked the 22nd of her career. Schwartz had her best season last year, when she became one of the most important offensive forces for the group. Schwartz will look to continue her success this season. After her shot, however, MIT responded with two goals in the 23rd and 35th minutes scored by defender Maya Nielan and forward Montana Reilly, respectively.

 In the tenth minute of the second half, Burhans scored off an assist from Sunday. As the intensity rose, MIT’s defender Hailey Nichols scored a rebound goal off her own miss, giving the Engineers a one-point edge. A Schwartz shot came close to tying the game in the 81st minute but was saved by MIT goalkeeper Lily Mueller.

The game was the first collegiate appearance by Judges’ goalie Sierra Dana ’20, who had an impressive six saves but could not fully defend against the hungry Engineers offense. Additionally, they trailed the Engineers 26-5 in attempts, knowing they would have to work to take more shots in future games. It is likely that the loss of Lea McDaniel ’17, who scored a tremendous 24 goals last season, contributed to the struggling Judges offense. However, Brandeis showed that they were able to, despite a tough season-opening loss, hold their heads high and snatch a win against Lasell.

Against Lasell, Brandeis showed tremendous improvement compared to the previous game, as they managed to take 18 shots and score an impressive five goals. The group looked sharp and synchronized, showing their capacity to learn and improve. Now with a 1-1 record, the team still has potential to start the season off strong, but they must continue to learn together as they did from the MIT game.  More of the same will be necessary to put this squad back on top.

The team clearly has the talent and ability to be one of the top groups in the nation.  Resiliency is a huge part of that, and the Judges showed that early on by cutting their losing streak short after just one game.  They did not let a season-opening loss get them down and they put their impressive determination on display just two days later. Brandeis will play their first home game on Tuesday Sept. 5 against Bridgewater State University as they look to attain a winning record, and extend their winning streak to two games.