The men’s soccer team advanced to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Final Four this past Sunday afternoon, for the second straight year. On Sunday, the Judges defeated Tufts University 1-0, and on Saturday they defeated Drew University by the same score.

Judges 1, Tufts 0

On Sunday, it took the Judges two separate overtime periods to upset the defending champion Tufts Jumbos. Tufts had all the momentum going into the matchup, having not only won the entire NCAA Tournament a season ago, but also having squashed Brandeis in an earlier matchup this season. Additionally, Tufts had the home field advantage in their favor as the contest was played on their home soil. 

Even with all of the challenges, the Judges were not intimidated. The club came out of the gate firing, with the squad putting four shots on goal during the first half. The Jumbos were only able to muster one shot on goal for the half. With these shots came missed opportunities for Brandeis. Most notably, in the 33rd minute, midfielder Josh Ocel ’18 placed a shot toward the net that was saved in the last second by the hard-working Tufts goalkeeper. 

The Judges’ keeper was also forced to make some impressive plays, including in the 42nd minute when goalie Ben Woodhouse ’18 came out of the net and broke up an advantage for Tufts. In the second half, Woodhouse would have to perform even tougher, as the Jumbos outshot the Judges six to one on shots on goals. Woodhouse saved all six shots, including a very difficult one in the 82nd minute when he thwarted a one-on-one opportunity. 

The team would survive the Tufts’ onslaught as the game shifted to overtime. Things began to turn in the Judges’ favor when, with just six minutes left in the second overtime period, a Tufts player received his second yellow card of the contest. This, of course, took him out of the game and gave Brandeis the one-man advantage. The club would capitalize on this golden opportunity five minutes later, when defender Josh Berg ’18 dribbled the ball with just over a minute to play.

Berg sent a through ball up to the top of the box that prompted the charging Tufts’ keeper out of the net. Forward Patrick Flahive ’18 was able to collect the ball and calmly drill the 30-yarder into the back of the open net. With his 15th career goal, Flahive was able to send the Judges back to the Final Four.

Judges 1, Drew 0

In order to get to the pivotal matchup with Tufts, the squad had to go through the unbeaten Drew University Rangers. 

As he has done throughout his storied career, Ocel would come through for the Judges off a set play in the second half. With a free kick opportunity, Ocel placed a deep ball into the box that forward Mike Lynch ’18 was able to get a head on as he spun it into the back of net for the 1-0 lead. It was the third game in a row, all in the NCAA tournament, that Lynch scored the game-winning goal for the squad. 

Luckily for the team, its defense proved too formidable as it escaped with the one-goal victory.

The Final Four will take place on Dec. 1, with the Judges facing off against Messiah College in North Carolina. The team will look to cement its legacy and advance to the championship game.