Judges' season starting slow on two-game slide
The Brandeis men’s soccer team has had a relatively slow start to their season. Given that the team made it to the Division III final four just last year and came into the season ranked fourth in the nation, expectations were very high, and the team hoped to see their success repeated. However, in the past few games, the team has not displayed the skills that brought them so far just last year.
WPI 1, Judges 0
The Judges were shut out for the second game in a row, this time against the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. After starting off the season 2-2, the Judges fell from fourth in the preseason coaches poll to ninth. Meanwhile, the Engineers improved to fifth nationally for Division III. The game was relatively uneventful, with the score still deadlocked at 0-0 at the end of regulation. Shots were pretty even as well, with Brandeis holding the slim lead 12-11 (4-2 on goal).
Josh Handler ’19, Skylah Dias ’22 and Max Breiter ’20 were all credited with at least one shot on goal for the Judges. The Engineers did not take long to end the game, however. Frank Ciliberto '19 scored a screamer to give WPI the 1-0 win. This was the fourth straight overtime game between the two teams.
Babson 2, Judges 0
The Judges travelled to Babson College to take on the school's oldest sports rival — this was the 67th meeting of the two teams in a fight that has been raging since 1955. The first half was again relatively quiet for both teams, with neither team able to get anything going. Babson recorded the only shots on goal in the first half, but goalkeeper Greg Irwin ’20 kept the game tied with a key diving stop.
However, in the second half, the Beavers broke things open. After a foul was called near midfield, Babson sent a ball into the box that was headed in by a Beaver striker, making the score 1-0. They would add to that lead just 11 minutes of game time later. The Judges were not able to get anything going and would end up losing the game 2-0, falling to 30-26-10 in the all time series.
Springfield 0, Judges 2
In their home opener, the Judges were able to defeat Springfield College by a score of 2-0 right here in Waltham. The first half of the game was relatively quiet, with Brandeis owning a 4-2 lead in shots taken, but neither team broke through. Springfield landed the only shot on goal of the half.
However, in the 55th minute, the Judges were able to break the tie. After a throw in from the right, Max Breiter ’20 sent a cross pass straight towards the goal. After being deflected by the Springfield goalie, the ball made its way to the foot of transfer student Bryant Nardizzi ’20 and was slammed home. Later in the game, with the score still 1-0, the Judges added some insurance. Nardizzi kicked the ball into the box, but it was soon headed back by a defender from Springfield. However, it deflected toward the foot of Stephen DePietto, who slammed home the goal.
The Judges will resume their season today when they take on Massachusetts Maritime Academy at 4 p.m. On Friday, they will welcome Tufts University to Gordon Field. Following that, the team will continue the home stretch and face Wheaton College next Tuesday. That following Saturday will be the team's homecoming game against Case Western Reserve University. This game will also be the opener for UAA conference play.
At the quarter mark of the season, things are not going exactly as expected. For a team that began the season ranked fourth nationally among Division III schools, a 2-3 record through five games is a disappointment, as at this point last year the team was 4-1. However, the club possesses the personel, coaching and skills to turn their season around. The next few games will be critically important in setting the stage for UAA play, which will eventually determine the team's conference record. The Judges' high seed in last year's tournament was a result of their conference record.