MEDFORD, Mass. (Courtesy Tufts sports information) - In a showdown of the top two teams in New England, both coming off appearances in the NCAA Division III semifinals last year, it was third-ranked and defending national champions Tufts who took a 1-0 decision from 12th-ranked Brandeis on Bello Field tonight.
The only goal of the night came in the 48th minute when Jumbo sophomore Gavin Tasker found teammate Brett Rojas at the top of the box. Rojas hit a laser at Judge senior goalie Ben Woodhouse (Suffield, Conn./Suffield). Woodhouse was able to get a hand on it, but the ball was hit so hard that it was deflected off his glove and into the back of the net.
It was Rojas' first goal of the year as he becomes the eighth Jumbo to put one in the back of the net this season. Tasker picked up his second assist on the play.
It was a tightly contested game that didn't produce all that many shots, only nine for each team, which speaks to the level of fight both teams showed for the entire length of the field. Neither team was really able to create too many chances in a row because they were constantly under pressure from the opposition.
The first chance of the game came in the 20th minute when Tufts' Joseph Braun sent a cross into the box from the right side that found Tasker about five yards away from goal. He was able to get a shot off that Woodhouse got in front of for his first save.
In the 25th minute off of a Brandeis corner taken by sophomore Dylan Hennessy (New York, N.Y./Northfield Mount Hermon), Jumbo goalie Bruce Johnson came out to punch the ball, but was unable get it away from danger. The ball bounced dangerously inside the Tufts box before Rojas was able to get a foot on it and clear it away.
Brandeis had another good opportunity in the first half when in the 35th minute they had a throw in on the Jumbos' side of the field. The throw made it all the way to the front of the net where sophomore Jake Warren (Medway, Mass./Medway) took a shot that was blocked by Tufts' defense. The ricochet found rookie Evan Glass (Boxford, Mass./Masconomet Regional) who took another shot, but this time Johnson grabbed and fell on it.
The first half ended with the Judges having the edge in shots, eight to four.
The scariest moment for the Jumbos came in the 83rd minute when Brandeis senior Josh Ocel (North Attleboro, Mass./Worcester Academy) sent a cross into the box that Johnson originally stopped, but it slipped out of his arms and bounced towards the goal. He quickly half-crawled, half-dove to scoop it up a second time.
Tufts looked to add to their lead in the 88th minute, but the shot by Braun went high.
Brandeis held the edge in corners six to five, while Tufts committed a few more fouls, nine to six.
Brandeis returns to action on Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m., when they travel to Wheaton College. It will be an emotional contest for the Judges and coach Gabe Margolis, as they will face former coach Mike Coven, who stepped in as the Lyons' interim coach just before the start of the season after the untimely passing of their head coach Matt Cushing. Margolis is a 2005 Wheaton graduate who played for Cushing.