Tufts shuts out No. 12 Brandeis in 2-0 win
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 03:09
The men’s soccer team defeated Brandeis 2-0 Saturday at Kraft Field, improving to 4-1 for the year while handing the 12th-ranked team in the nation their first loss.
The Jumbos knew they would have their hands full with an undefeated Brandeis squad that is considered one of the best in New England. Fueled by their stinging overtime loss to Wesleyan last week, the Jumbos came out firing.
“Brandeis was a great team, and with their high rank and playing in front of our home crowd, it was easy to get up for the game and play with high energy,” senior tri-captain forward Scott Blumenthal said. “That being said, it’s only one win, and we still have a lot to prove, so [we] can’t get too ahead of ourselves or too overly confident.”
Tufts controlled the time of possession from the start, keeping the ball on the opponent’s half of the field for much of the contest. The Jumbos outshot the Judges 17-7, and generated more set pieces and more chances at net.
“I felt like we had a good approach, we were really 11 deep on the field, everyone defended well, we closed their spaces quickly and then we felt we had an advantage in wide areas,” fourth-year head coach Josh Shapiro said. “I felt like we did a really good job attacking [down] the flank, getting dangerous balls in and taking those two early goals which was really a product of good defending turning into good offensive plays and then quality finishing at the other end for us.”
One of those early goals came off a set piece in the 21st minute. Junior forward Gus Santos laced a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box that curved inside the right post and past the outstretched glove of Brandeis junior keeper Joe Graffy. Santos, who had been held without a goal coming into Saturday’s game, finally broke through with his skillful finesse shot.
Tufts remained aggressive and tallied another goal just six minutes later. Brandeis was threatening on the Jumbos’ half of the field when Tufts cleared the ball and looked to counter. Sophomore midfielder Connor Brown pushed the ball upfield into open space, and with the Judges’ defense on its heels, Brown played a through-ball that split two defenders and found junior tri-captain Maxime Hoppenot. With only the keeper to beat, Hoppenot laced a liner into the back of the net for his fourth goal in just five games this season.
“I thought play up front was outstanding,” Shapiro said. “Connor Brown got a start upfront and handled his role really well. The depth up front did a really good job, I was very happy with the play of the strikers.”
As good as the offense was, it was the Jumbo’s backline that shined brightest once again, denying Brandeis any real scoring chances. Freshman goalkeeper Scott Greenwood continued his remarkable rookie run with another three saves en route to his fourth shutout in just five games. In all, the Jumbos’ backline has allowed just one goal in the season’s first five games.
“Having let up the fewest goals in the NESCAC thus far, I couldn’t be more impressed,” Blumenthal said. “I have a lot of confidence in our defense to keep the ball out of the net each game.”
With a victory in what was the Jumbo’s biggest test of the year so far, Tufts will now take the show on the road to face a Plymouth State squad that is coming off a rough 5-0 loss to Keene State. Tufts will look to take care of business Tuesday before heading to Amherst on Saturday to take on the Lord Jeffs.
“Both the offense and defense are playing well and connecting,” Blumenthal said. “When we’re on our game I think we can compete with most teams. The defense makes it a lot easier for us on the offensive end, so hopefully we can keep scoring to take the pressure off them.”