The men’s soccer team moved on to its sixth consecutive Sweet 16 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III tournament with a tight 1-0 win against Rutgers University-Newark. In the first round, the Judges hammered the Western Connecticut State University Colonials 3-0 for their first win of the playoffs.

Judges 1, Rutgers 0

The Judges started off the first half on fire, battering down the Raiders defense with an onslaught of on-goal rockets. Nevertheless, the Raiders defense held strong, denying the Judges again and again with acrobatic saves from sophomore goalie Andres Medina. Midway through the half, the Judges loosened their attack, allowing the Raiders offense to take over. With a few shots on goal, the Raiders ended their attack empty handed, heading into the half tied at zero apiece. 

The Judges started the second half with another aggressive attack but the Raiders did not budge. A few minutes into the half, sophomore forward Fabio De Sousa sneaked through the Brandeis defense and broke free for what might have been a goal had a Judges defender not tripped him for a penalty in the box. The crowd was distraught, bracing for what would be an easy 15-yard chip-in goal for the Raiders. With the whistle for play, the crowd got onto its feet while De Sousa calmed himself for the kick. De Sousa wound up for the kick and blasted a shot to the bottom right corner of the goal. The crowd erupted into cheers as goalie Ben Woodhouse ’18 came up with the best save of the game, preventing what would have been the go-ahead goal for the Raiders.

The Judges were fired up after the play and charged down the field with a burst of momentum, blasting three straight shots to no avail. Minutes later, forward Josh Ocel ’18 drew a yellow card on a foul, but was able to recover the ball seconds later to set himself up for a corner kick. Ocel streamed the ball toward a crowd of players in the box and found forward Mike Lynch ’18, who clocked in a screamer to give the Judges their first lead of the game. With only 23 minutes remaining in the game, the Raiders felt the pressure and played quick, scrappy ball. The Raiders managed to create a few more opportunities, but it was all for naught as the Brandeis defense took control of the game until the final whistle. 

The Judges won the shooting stat box as well, whipping up 11 shots on goal, while allowing only six from the Raiders.

Judges 3, Western Conn. 0

The Judges started off the tournament with a bang, blowing out the Colonials easily in 90 minutes. For all intents and purposes, the Judges won the game in the 15th minute with a searing shot into the back of the net by Lynch. Forward Patrick Flahive ’18 set up Lynch with a short header to get the assist on the play. Midway through the second half, the Judges closed out the game for good, tacking on two more goals. 65 minutes in, midfielder Dylan Hennessy ’20 tapped in a goal with a neat header off the pass from Ocel. 10 minutes later, forward Andrew Allen ’19 slid in another goal for good measure, connecting on a pass from forward Noah Gans ’21. The Judges battered the Colonials defense with six shots on goal and 15 shots overall. Meanwhile, the Colonials managed a mere two shots on goal, allowing Woodhouse to relax for most of the game. 

With the win over Rutgers, the Judges move on to the Sweet 16 round of the tournament to face Drew University.  Drew is ranked sixth in the Mid-Atlantic conference. Coming into the match with a 21-0-1 record and an 18-game active winning streak, the Judges are facing a worthy competitor. 

However, with Woodhouse in goal, Ocel leading the charge and finding his teammates for open looks and a championship in sight, do not count out this Brandeis squad. The match will be played at Tufts University on Saturday and fans should be prepared for a thrilling showdown.