This article was originally published by the Brown Daily Herald and can be found here.
The women’s soccer team returned to Stevenson-Pincince Field to host Fairfield University Wednesday afternoon.
Chance the Rapper’s “No Problem” blared out of the speakers, practically warning the Stags that they did not want any problems with Bruno, who entered the game 5-0-1 with five consecutive shutouts.
A high sun greeted both teams as they walked onto the field and Bruno kicked off the first possession. During the 15th and 16th minutes, Star White ’21 scored two goals, both assisted by Ava Seelenfreund ’23. Later on during the second half, Brittany Raphino ’23 scored three goals in less than 15 minutes, cementing Bruno’s 5-0 victory over the Stags.
At the end of the week, the Bears traveled to Philadelphia to take on Villanova University. Nova scored within the first 10 minutes of the game and, despite a valiant effort, Bruno never put any points on the scoreboard.
Brown 5, Fairfield 0
Bear possessions made up 90 percent of the game’s first 10 minutes with one shot on goal attempted by White. White carried Bruno’s offense with unsuccessful attempts to turn the corner on her defender, which energized the rest of her teammates to run the field and fill the flanks.
The following three minutes included two shot attempts by Zoe Maxwell ’22, which were both off the mark, but further pushed the momentum in Bruno’s favor. Bear plays involved many moving parts, often flying players down the wings and around the goal.
At the 30 minute mark, Seelenfreund sent a cross kick over to a diving White. Fairfield goalie Gena Pike got a hand on it, but White’s ball prevailed, hitting the crossbar and falling into the net. The goal was White’s first of the season.
Less than a minute later, KK Haug ’23 dribbled down to the byline looking for someone in the 18-yard box. Seelenfreund stepped in to play the pass — drawing the full attention of Pike — and sent the ball to White. Pike, tripping over her own feet, failed to recover as White knocked in an easy shot no more than five yards from the empty net.
“It feels so good,” White said. “I took my shots when I had them and they just went in. It was great.”
The last 15 minutes of the half had a few more Stag possessions than earlier, but Bruno asserted its dominance on both ends of the field. Fairfield had yet to take a shot, let alone make it across the midfield line for more than 30 seconds. A few minutes later, however, the Stags were able to get in deep and get a couple shots off. Goalie Kayla Thompson ’21 easily saved the dying balls headed toward her.
Bruno entered halftime with all the smoke and Fairfield, as previously warned, did not want any problems.
Four minutes into the second half, the Raphino show began: She scored three goals in less than 15 minutes, posting her first three collegiate scores.
Junior captain Sydney Cummings ’21 served a free kick down the field to Raphino, who beat her defender, got inside the box and easily hit it home. Raphino paid Pike another visit 10 minutes later when she wiggled around her defender and shot a goal from the top of the box. With 28 minutes left in the game, Cummings served the ball into a pack of Bears waiting right in front of the goal. Raphino pulled out the natural hat trick to tip it in.
“I’m feeling amazing. I feel like it’s about time,” Raphino said. “I just needed to get over that threshold and now that I’ve passed it, we can all move forward. And even (White) getting her first goal today — it’s just the momentum we need to push us into Ivies.”
“The past couple games we’ve scored, but probably not as many (goals) as we could’ve,” said Head Coach Kia McNeill about her offense. “So we just wanted to create more opportunities on goal and we finished them today.”
Brown 0, Villanova 1
A Sunday afternoon tip-off took Bruno out to Philadelphia in almost 90 degree heat to compete against the Wildcats. Nova opened the game with possession and after a couple of fouls on both teams, scored in the 10th minute. The goal marked the first time that an opponent scored on Bruno this season.
“We haven’t been scored on in seven games,” Cummings said. “As a team, we knew it was inevitable and that it would happen eventually. It was just a matter of how we responded when it did happen.”
The next nine minutes of the game featured multiple fouls for Brown and substitutions on both teams as they battled during a sun-splashed day. During the 26th minute, Maxwell attempted a shot, but Nova goalie Rebecca Gartner blocked it.
The last ten minutes of the half saw a yellow card on Maesyn G’Bye ’22, three Nova fouls and further substitutions for both teams.
The second half opened with a Brown corner kick from Celia Story ’19.5 within the first two minutes of play, which was followed by another Bruno foul. Story offered another corner kick in the 49th minute. This time around, Brown changed its defense to a 3-5-2 formation to apply more pressure.
“We didn’t generate enough offensively. It’s hard to capitalize on a team’s mistakes when we’re not producing offensively,” Cummings said. “(Villanova) just seized their opportunity when it came in the first half and then bunkered down.”
During the 66th minute, Brown got off two shots: Rebecca Rosen’s ’22 veered too wide, and Haug’s was too high. Bruno searched for its Goldilocks shot, one that was just right. Six minutes later, White’s shot looked golden, but Gartner denied it.
With under 20 minutes to go in the game, shot attempts infrequently interrupted both teams’ fouls and substitutions. Three minutes later, a successful goal remained elusive for the Bears as Seelenfreund shot a wide header.
“It’s a good lesson for the team to learn — you have to play 90 minutes straight through,” McNeill said. “We came out flat the first half. (We) have to continue to play (our game). We did in the second half, but we just didn’t do enough to put anything in the back of the net.”
Bruno fought until the very end, but it wasn’t enough to clinch a victory. A 1-0 loss against Villanova handed the Bears their first defeat of the season and an end to their six-game shutout streak.
“This is definitely a wake up call,” Thompson said. “We know when we step into a game, if we set the tone, no one’s gonna match us. Today we just started on our heels and Nova did a great job of capitalizing on that. So we know we have to start with the energy that we want to persist through the game.”
The Bears open Ivy play Saturday against the Big Green.
“It’s good (we faced) adversity before going into league play,” McNeill said. “It forces (us) to look at (ourselves) even closer and find ways to be even better.”