Storrs, CT- The No. 22-ranked Brown University men's soccer team will advance to the Sweet 16 of the 2010 Division I NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament after defeating the #9 University of Connecticut in penalty kicks, 7-6, at Morrone Stadium. The last time the Bears advanced this far in the tournament was in 2000, when they fell to Connecticut, 1-0, in the quarterfinals.
The Bears came out fired-up for their match showing no signs of nerves. Brown tallied four shots, including two on goal, in the first 45 minutes of play and scored the first goal of the afternoon just 7:57 into the game to take a 1-0 lead.
It was an exciting and hard fought game out there," said head coach Patrick Laughlin. "UConn is an oustanding program and they made it very difficult for us. Someone has to advance and we're on the good side of it right now, but penalty kicks are a difficult thing to handle after you've played so hard for 110 minutes."
Sophomore Bobby Belair took the first shot of the game just four minutes in after a cross from senior Jon Okafor (Verona, NJ), but UConn goalkeeper Josh Ford made the save. Just five minutes later, junior Sean Rosa (Montreal, Quebec) passed one over to a charging Taylor Gorman (Freeport, ME), who beat his defender and blasted a low shot to the right corner of the net that was just out of Ford's reach to give the Bears an early 1-0 advantage.
UConn's Carlos Alvarez kept the pressure on Brown and fired off three shots of his own, keeping the Bears' defense busy. The Huskies first attempt came at the 27:33 mark by Alvarez, but was blocked by Brown's tough back line. Another shot came just four minutes later and UConn's Stephane Diop sent a cross to the middle of the box, but senior David Walls came to the rescue and sent the ball out of bounds.
"Again I thought our team was outstanding," added Laughlin. "We used many guys today who were able to come in and contribute and help us be successful."
After Gorman sailed a shot high and over the net, UConn's Alvarez ripped he ball at the 18:21 mark just inside the box, but senior Paul Grandstrand (Orono, MN) made a spectacular diving save to keep the Huskies off the scoreboard. Alvarez tried again with just six minutes left in the half and sent a shot to the low left corner, but Grandstrand made another miraculous diving save to keep the Huskies scoreless in the first half.
The Huskies came out hot in the second half, and had the better of play for the remainder of regulation. UConn fired off 11 shots and kept the pressure on the Bears from the start. Every time the Huskies would get a look on goal, though, the Bears defense would come through. UConn rattled off 11 shots to Brown's one in the second half, and finally scored the equalizer with just three minutes remaining in the game.
After a questionable call led to a UConn free kick just outside the box, Mamadou Diouf headed one that sailed to the high right corner to send the game into overtime.
Both teams were solid and had some great looks on goal during both overtime periods. UConn's Diop rifled a shot toward the goal one minute into the overtime, but sophomore defender Ryan McDuff blocked it with his body and sent it the other way. Then, Gorman came down the field and took the same shot in the exact spot as he did in the first to score, but sent it right at the goalie. Both squads had three shots on goal in the first overtime, but UConn held a 2-0 advantage in the second. Neither team was able to score in the overtime periods, so it went into penalty kicks.
UConn scored the first PK with a high left shot past Grandstrand to take a 1-0 edge. Brown's Thomas McNamara followed up with a high left shot of his own to even the score at 1-1. Next, UConn nailed a shot to the low left corner, but Gorman tied the score up 2-2. Then, Grandstrand blocked UConn's next shot, and Austin Mandel answered with a goal to give Bruno a 3-2 advantage over the Huskies.
UConn blasted a shot up right up the middle to tie the score at 3-3, but Dylan Remick rifled one up the middle as well to go ahead 4-3. Then UConn hit a shot in the high right corner, but UConn's keeper was able to save Ian Smith's shot. UConn took a 5-4 lead with its next PK, but Grandstrand knocked one in to tie it back up at 5-5.
UConn's next shot was good to take a 6-5 lead, but David Walls tied it at 6-6 with a shot low and to the left. UConn then missed its next shot, and Jay Hayward came up with the game-winner, 7-6, to give Brown the win!
"We battled so long" said Walls. "It was a long game today and long season ..We just came in and said we're not scared to fail in here. We're going to go out there and give it our best shot. We believe in eachother, we knew this guy would save one eventually and we were just confident."
The Bears will now play the winner of the UC Santa Barbara and California game on Nov. 28.