ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- For the first time in program history, the Brandeis University men's soccer team has won the University Athletic Association (UAA) championship outright, as the Judges defeated the University of Rochester, 2-1, on the road this afternoon. The Judges' win improves their record to 15-2-1 overall and 5-1 in the UAA. Coupled with an overtime loss by Case Western Reserve, the Judges clinched the UAA title by themselves and earned the 2015's first berth into the NCAA Division III tournament.
Brandeis's only other share of the UAA title came in 2013, when they were part of an improbable four-way tie. They did not earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament due to tiebreakers that year, but this season, they didn't leave anything to chance, clinching with one match still left to play.
"It's a wonderful feeling," said head coach Mike Coven, in his 43rd year on the sidelines. "It started when the seven players who weren't on our active roster showed up, driving all the way from Waltham to be here today."
The Judges, ranked #7 in Division III by D3soccer.com and #12 by the NSCAA, opened the scoring in the 29th minute capitalizing on the first legitimate scoring chance of the contest, converting a nice play in the penalty area in the 29th minute. Rookie Joshua Handler (Oakdale, Conn./Montville) dribbled the ball towards the UR left endline and then sent a pass in front to junior Josh Berg (Weymouth, Mass./Weymouth) who shot from 6 yards out and found the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. The goal was Berg's third of the season, all coming in UAA play. Handler's assist was his second of the year.
Rochester (6-4-5, 1-2-3 UAA) would answer back just before the 36 minute mark with a goal from sophomore Samuel Cekala. The play began when a Brandeis foul gave UR a free kick from about 30 yards out. Tyler Buck took the kick and landed it right on target where Judges' sophomore keeper Ben Woodhouse (Suffield, Conn./Suffield) made the save, but Cekala was in the right place and slammed in the rebound for a 1-1 tie score.
In the second half, the physical play from the first half carried over with four second half yellow cards being issued to bring the games total to six.
At 52:39, Rochester earned a free kick half a yard outside the 18 and turned that chance into a Jeffrey Fafinski shot that sailed high of the crossbar. In the 70th minute, the second of back-to-back corners by Zachary Kanaley was played out back to Buck who blasted a hard open shot that went high as well.
The Judges finally broke through with the game-winner in the 79th minute. Junior midfielder Josh Ocel (No. Attleboro, Mass./Worcester Acad.) took a corner, and he found classmate and back Kyle Robinson (York, Maine / Phillips Exeter) open at the far post. Robinson knocked it into the back of the net for his first career goal. Ocel's assist was his UAA-leading ninth of the season, five of which have come in conference action.
"We switched things up a bit, bringing Kyle up on the corner," Coven said. "And he picked a great time to deliver his first career goal.
"This is just a great group of guys, and they worked hard this weekend to get two results."
Brandeis will return to action on Saturday, Nov. 7, when they meet rival NYU at 1:30 p.m. for Senior Day.
(some info taken from a Rochester press release)