The men’s soccer team’s sole action of the week came Saturday in a cross-town rivalry showdown with Babson College. As usual, the rivalry match did not disappoint, as the Judges and Beavers went back and forth in what proved to be Brandeis’ most significant win of the young 2017 season. After dropping their season opener, the Judges seem to have regained their footing and are living up to their No. 4 ranking. 

Judges 2, Babson 1

Saturday’s showdown at Gordon Field gave a packed house plenty of reason to watch from the edge of their seats, as Brandeis and Babson dueled in what has become a characteristically exciting rivalry. The Judges started off the game’s scoring in the 42nd minute, when transfer defenseman Colin Panarra ’20 chipped a perfect pass to open forward Devin Casey ’19, who proceeded to net his first career goal in only his third appearance for the squad. On the defensive end, the Judges’ typically suffocating effort held Babson at bay until the 83rd minute, when junior midfielder Noah Parker’s corner kick led to an offensive frenzy that ultimately resulted in a headed-home goal from sophomore forward Chris Czarnecki. 

The stalemate did not last long, however, as the Judges proved themselves unshaken by the Beavers’ late surge. After a Babson defender’s second yellow card of the match, the Judges capitalized on a free kick that set up forward Josh Ocel ’18 to blast home what proved to be the game’s decisive goal. The Beavers countered with an admirable offensive attack, nearly notching the score once more, but fell short when junior forward Youssef Silwanis’s late attempt narrowly struck the crossbar. 

While the final score reflects a close match, the Judges were in the driver’s seat for the better part of 90 minutes. The Judges had five more shots on goal than the Beavers, owning the advantage 16-11. What’s more, the Judges held a 7-3 advantage on corner kicks on the night. Most alarming for the Beavers, Brandeis committed a comparatively low nine fouls to Babson’s 18, the last of which resulted in Ocel’s golden goal. Perhaps most indicative of the Judges’ control throughout the match, goalkeeper Ben Woodhouse ’18, who typically finishes games with a handful of saves, completed the win with just one stop. On the other side of the box, Babson senior keeper James Takami finished the match with five saves. 

With the win, the all-time rivalry record now moves to 26-29-10 in favor of the Beavers. Though Babson currently holds the edge in match history, the Judges have won five of the last six meetings between the two squads. The game’s close score is typical of the rivalry’s increasingly thrilling nature, as eight of the last nine matches between the teams have been decided by one goal.  

The victory brings the Judges to 2-1 on the season, while the Beavers fall to 2-2. 

After an impressive season last year, Brandeis looked a little shaky out of the gate with a loss.  However, the team has regrouped with back-to-back victories.  Most noticeably, the veterans of this squad have been leading the way for the powerhouse Judges,  Senior Ocel has been especially huge for the team so far this season.  He has made his presence on the turf well-known through three games this far, and with a team-high two assists, he has clearly been making his teammates better as well. With a National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament birth as motivation, and a strong leadership core, this team now looks poised for yet another championship run.

Looking ahead, the Judges continue their four-game home-stand Wednesday evening against Worcester Polytechnic Institute at 7:00 p.m. The squad then hosts Elms College on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.  The team will be looking for its third and fourth consecutive victories, as it strives to live up to its preaseason hype. With expectations set high, it remains to be seen how the Judges  will fare.