WALTHAM - The third-ranked Tufts men's soccer team netted two goals in the first half of action to earn their sixth victory of the year with a 2-1 thrilling win at Brandeis on Friday night. The game was a rematch of last year's NCAA Elite 8 game won by the Judges, 1-0 in overtime.
|Jumbo goaltender Conner Mieth made five crucial saves in the 2-1 victory|
Tufts (6-0) struck in the second minute of the game on a misplayed ball in front of the net. Junior forward Joe Braun made a heads up play while sticking with the play and dished the ball over to junior midfielder Gavin Tasker who kicked it past Judge goaltender Noah Cohen. Brandeis (3-4) then had an opportunity to tie things up in the ninth minute, but the shot by Bryant Nardizzi hit off the crossbar.
The Jumbos capitalized again in the 11th minute with a header by junior midfielder Zach Lane that deflected off a Judge and found the back of the net to give Tufts a 2-0 advantage. Senior back Sterling Weatherbie collected an assist on the Lane goal. Tufts almost struck again in the 18th minute, but Cohen made a great save to keep the deficit at two.
The Judges generated a fantastic scoring chance in the 20th minute off of a free kick by Nardizzi, but Jumbo goaltender Conner Mieth made a diving save. For the rest of the half, both teams looked to push the pace and put one in the net, but great team defense on both sides dominated the last 25 minutes.
In the first half, the Jumbos outshot the Judges nine to six. Cohen and Meith both recorded three saves in the first 45 minutes of action. Brandeis generated two corner kicks to Tufts' one, low numbers that were a result of tenacious defense.
Brandeis came out aggressive in the second half generating six shots within an eight-minute span. Of the six shots, the Judges' best opportunity to cut the lead in half came in the 54th minute when Brandon Miskin booted a strike that was saved on a dive by Mieth.
In the 61st minute, the Judges' offense finally broke through on a goal from forward Jake Warren, who chippped the ball over Mieth to make the score 2-1. The play was set up by a throw-in from Nardizzi and Josh Handler passing the ball to Warren for the score.
The Jumbos' junior midfielder Zach Trevorrow created a quality shot on goal in the 65th minute that was stopped by Cohen. Over the next ten minutes the action started to get chippy as the rivals continued to grind. Brandeis' best chance to score the equalizer came in the 79th minute as back Alex Walter had a solid header opportunity go just wide. Tufts looked to push the ball up the field in the final 10 minutes to keep Brandeis out of their end and succeeded as they generated five corners within the 10 minutes. The Judges had a final chance in the 90th minute with a corner that was cleared by the Jumbos.
The rivals put on a show for 90 minutes of gritty soccer that ended with Tufts prevailing. For the game, Tufts outshot Brandeis 17-16. Cohen and Mieth played fantastic as they both stopped five shots respectively. The Jumbos generated eight corners to the Judges' three. This game got extra chippy in the second half, but for the game Tufts got two yellow cards and committed 18 fouls. Brandeis committed 15 team fouls and were handed one yellow card.
Mieth improved to 6-0 on the season with the victory. This Jumbo defense played aggressive and it paid off big time in this prime-time matchup. Tasker and Lane led the Jumbo offense recording four shots on the game. Tufts veterans stepped up as four Jumbos recorded points in the contest, three juniors and a senior. There were 18 members of the Jumbos participated in the compelling match.
Tufts' next match will be Wednesday as they host NESCAC opponent Wesleyan at 7 pm at Bello Field. Brandeis' next contest will be Tuesday when they host Wheaton at 7 pm.
Written By Athletic Communications Intern Bryan Costello