The Judges took a leap forward in their pursuit of postseason play this past Wednesday, drop-kicking the Clark University Cougars 5-1 in their sole action of the week. 

The squad has reeled off several convincing victories in recent weeks, proving their dominance against unranked Division III opponents. After dropping their first match of the season, the Judges have gone 11-2 and continue to control games with stifling defense and well-executed offense. As the team heads into its final three-game stretch of the season, it has reason to feel confident that it will be making a deep postseason run for the second consecutive season. The Judges are looking to live up to the immense preseason hype that resulted from their exhilarating National Collegiate Athletic Association Final Four appearance  last year.

Judges 5, Clark 1

The Judges were in the driver’s seat throughout the entirety of Wednesday’s match against the Cougars, striking first in the 26th minute with a remarkable goal from rookie midfielder Noah Gans ’21. The goal was assisted by forward Josh Ocel ’18, who continues to add to his stellar career resume. With the assist, Ocel tied his brother, Sam Ocel ’12, on Brandeis’ career scoring list with 75 points. Ocel would then take sole possession of 12th place on that list with a goal of his own in the 32nd minute. 

The Judges struck again in the 40th minute when Gans and forward Andrew Allen ’19 executed a beautiful give-and-go sequence that set Gans up for his second goal of the game. The Judges were not finished there, as the squad tacked on another goal in the 42nd minute following yet another masterful offensive set facilitated again by Allen, who assisted midfielder Bernardo Ponte ’18 for a goal. The squad scored its fifth and final goal in the 56th minute, when midfielder Max Breiter ’20 converted on a strike that was assisted by midfielder Alex Walter ’20. The Cougars spoiled the Judges’ shutout bid just after Breiter connected on his goal, as sophomore forward Sean Munroe scored a goal to put Clark on the board. The margin, however, proved too large for the outplayed Cougars to overcome.  

By game’s end, the Judges  had outshot Clark University 22-7, outshooting the Cougars 12-1 in the second half alone as their aggressive offense carried them to victory. Clark mustered only three shots on goal throughout the match. Goalkeeper Greg Irwin ’20 got the win for the Judges, finishing the game with just two stops due to the squad's suffocating defense. The Cougars held a 4-3 edge in corner kicks but failed to convert on any of those four looks. 

The victory brings the Judges to 11-3-0 on the season. The loss drops the Cougars to 7-5-3 on the year.

The Judges conclude their season with a three-game home-stand at Gordon Field against three consecutive formidable opponents. The squad has had an impressively smooth season thus far, with its only losses coming by slim margins and against quality opponents. The key factor driving the Judges’ success on the season has been their characteristically effective defense. The team has given up more than two goals only once this season — in its first match of the year — and has shutout five opponents on the year. 

With games against Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Chicago and New York University coming up, the squad will look to carry the momentum it has been building all season into the postseason. 

Though the team began the year ranked higher than its current No. 18 ranking, it has proven itself as a powerhouse in Division III play all season. This is all the more impressive considering this is head coach Gabe Margolis’s first season at the reins. Margolis has been able to fill the shoes of legendary coach Mike Coven with grace and confidence. Brandeis is clearly in capable hands for years to come.

Looking ahead, the Judges hit the pitch on Friday evening to take on WashU at 5 p.m.