Spartans stuck in a corner

Men’s soccer drops first conference match

The day was breezy, and some shots were beautiful, but nothing about this game was easy.

Case Western Reserve University took on their first University Athletic Association (UAA) rival of the season— the No. 15 Brandeis University Judges. The Judges arrived at DiSanto Field as the Spartans were coming off of a loss earlier in the week and were ready to bounce back for another win.

Immediately after the Spartans kicked off the game, Brandeis was in control. CWRU managed to hold on to the ball for a short while, but the Judges had established their defensive positions long before the Spartans had a chance to initiate their offense.

Once the Spartans had been put on defense, their opponents were in full force. Within the first three minutes, the Judges already had a strong shot. And before the fourth minute completed, the score was 1-0 in favor of the visitors after a short kick into the corner of the goal by Brandeis’ fourth-year midfielder Patrick Flahive. Brandeis’ women’s soccer team was just arriving in the stands as Flahive kicked in the goal, and they erupted into cheers.

In the first half, the Spartans managed a beautiful play. The ball came from out of bounds, was lobbed into the air with a perfect curve, and then bicycle kicked toward the goal. Just in the nick of time, Brandeis’ goalkeeper deflected the ball out of bounds above the top bar of the goal.

Their goalkeeper landed poorly on the jump, and would remain lying down for several minutes, prompting the trainers to take a look. Fortunately, he stood up, walked and jumped around, and was able to continue in the action for the game.

The remaining minutes of the first half saw a multitude of shots and corner kicks from both teams, but the Judges held a strong hand over the pace of the game throughout.

In the second half, the Judges changed their goalkeeper, but the Spartans did not fare any better than they did in the first half.

Most of the second half went by uneventfully, except for one yellow card going against the Judges. The last ten minutes, though, changed the entire tone of the game.

With about 10 minutes to go, both teams substituted a swath of players. Both sides had fresh legs, and the difference was only one goal.

The Spartans fought the hardest they had fought since the opening of the game, and Brandeis struggled to keep up. After a shot by first-year midfielder Connor Weber was deflected behind the goal, the Spartans started the first of five successive corner kicks.

The first two corner kicks both ended in almost immediate deflections back behind the goal. The third, though, resulted in a header towards the goal by third-year defender Christian Lytle, and then a rebound shot by Weber immediately thereafter. Weber’s shot was again deflected behind the goal, leading to another corner kick.

After the five corner kicks from CWRU, the score remained 1-0. Brandeis gained control of the ball for a short moment, before CWRU tackled it away again. Shortly after, Brandeis was called for a foul, and the Spartans set up a shot on a free kick.

Second-year forward Zachary Senft lined up the shot, and kicked the ball nearly into the goal again. Just as before, the shot was blocked and the Spartans were given a corner kick opportunity. This corner kick was the first of three more corner kicks, for a total of eight in the final ten minutes, that the Spartans would take. None resulted in a score.

Finally, with the corner kicks finally over, the Judges had control of the ball again and took off running. It was a 2-on-2 rush, and the coaches and benches of both teams were yelling at the top of their lungs. If Brandeis managed another goal, the game would be all but over.

Desperate to save his team from losing the game, Weber tugged at the shoulder of the Brandeis player with the ball. The rough play resulted in a quick yellow card.

The final minute of the game saw yet another foul from Brandeis, but again the Judges’ defense was too much. The game ended 1-0, and the Spartans fell to 4-5-1 on the season and 0-1-0 against UAA teams.

CWRU now looks to this coming week, when they will travel to New York University for a game on Saturday, Oct. 7 after a draw to Oberlin College on Oct. 4. The game against New York University will be the team’s second UAA matchup of the year.