Russo to the rescue as #23 men's soccer upends MIT, 4-3, in OT

Lee Russo '13 (photo courtesy sportspix.biz)
WALTHAM, Mass. – Senior Lee Russo (Westford, Mass./Westford Acad.) recorded his third career hat trick, including the golden goal 79 seconds into overtime today as the 23rd-ranked Brandeis men's soccer team defeated MIT, 4-3, on Gordon Field. The win is the 10th in a row for the Judges dating back to last season, and improves their record to 5-0. The loss is the first of the season for MIT, who falls to 4-1.

Russo, who recorded his second career hat trick, vaulted into 13th on the Judges' career scoring list with a 10-point weekend. He now has 27 goals, 11th on the career list, and 12 assists for 67 points, tied with Mark Moroney '90. He scored the only goal of the first half in the 29th minute, converting a penalty kick after the Engineers were called for a hand ball in the box. With just eight total shots in the first half, six for the Judges, it looked to be a defensive struggle.

Russo struck again in the 62nd minute. Senior back Joe Eisenbies (Hingham, Mass./Hingham) sent a long free kick into the box, where classmate Sam Ocel (No. Attleboro, Mass./No. Attleboro) headed it towards the net. As it trickled to the goal line, Russo was there to help it along, doubling the Judges' lead.

Just over 11 minutes later, the Engineers kicked of a frantic 10 minutes of action with their first goal of the game. Junior Matthew Monheit's (Abington, Pa./Abington) cross found the head of senior Ben Lewis (W. Hartford, Conn./Conard) in the 73rd minute. Lewis's third goal of the season cut the Brandeis lead in half.

Just under four minutes later, Brandeis sophomore forward Tyler Savonen (Orleans, Mass./Nauset Regional) was the beneficiary of some fancy footwork from junior back Ben Applefield (Avon, Conn./Avon). Applefield worked his way deep and through a couple of defenders in the MIT box, passing it to a wide open Savonen, who knocked the ball off the post and in for his third goal of the season. MIT responded a mere 52 seconds later, when rookie William Lee (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte CDS) scored his first collegiate goal on another assist by Monheit.

MIT completed the comeback in the 80th minute, when leading scorer Sean Bingham (Garden City, N.Y./Garden City) blasted a free kick from about 35 yards out. The well-struck ball deflected off a Brandeis defender and past Judge senior goalie Blake Minchoff (Fiskdale, Mass./Tantasqua Regional) to even the game at 3-3. That set up Russo's heroics at 91:19, when he lofted a free kick from just outside the right corner of the 18-yard box over the outstretched arms of Engineer sophomore netminder Samuel Cannon (Scarsdale, N.Y./Scarsdale) for his second game-winner of the season.

Brandeis outshot MIT, 17-11, putting eight on goal to four for MIT. Cannon finished with four saves in the losing effort, while Minchoff had one stop for the Judges. The Judges won despite giving up more than two goals in a game for the first time since October 29, 2010.

The 23rd-ranked Judges return to action on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. at WPI, while MIT opens NEWMAC play on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 1 p.m. at Babson.  

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