Brown Men’s Club Soccer claimed the Ivy League Championship title for the second straight year last weekend, besting Columbia 1-0 in the final after a weekend of games. Having won the tournament the previous year, Brown played host in 2018.
The Bears won every game on the path to the championship. The team kicked off the tournament with a two-game slate on Saturday in the group stage against Columbia and Yale. The team’s first matchup was against Columbia. In the game, a clean strike from Jokichi Matsubara ’18.5, after a clever dummy by rookie Albin Wells ’21, spelled the difference in a 1-0 victory against the lions.
In the second game of the day, the Bears pulled out a 3-0 win over Yale in front of a raucous crowd. Michael McDonnell-Diaz ’19, Lauti Santillan ’20, and Simon Freyaldenhoven PhD ’18 found the back of the net in the win. The victory propelled Bruno into the second day of action all but certain they would be advancing to the semifinals.
The following morning the Bears faced off against Princeton. Although the team conceded its first goals of the tournament, a brace by Greyson Gerhard-Young ’21 and a finish from Matsubara gave Brown the victory. Bruno advanced out of Group A with nine points along with Columbia. Harvard and Dartmouth advanced out of Group B.
The semi-final matchup against Harvard seemed to be the Bears’ toughest test yet. Harvard struck first, and the Crimson went into the half with a 1-0 advantage. But Brown came out fighting after the intermission, controlling the game and keeping the ball in Harvard territory for most of the second half. A gutsy finish by senior Yuta Arai ’18 in the waning minutes of the half sent the game to penalties, thereby extending Arai’s Brown Club Soccer career and giving life to the hosts.
In penalties, cooler heads prevailed. Clinical spot kicks from James Myall ’18, Matsubara, Daniel Hopper ’18, Phil Masiakowski ’20, and the level-headed Wells twins – Jakob ’19, and Albin, along with a clutch save from sophomore stud Logan Cho ’20, led to a victory for the Bears and a spot in the final.
Under a frigid April snow and the lights of Berylson Family Fields, Bruno faced off once more against Columbia. The game played to a similar tune as the two foes’ first meeting, and it ended in the same result. In the first half, Matsubara chased a ball to the corner, eventually winning it from the Lions’ right back and crossing it in to a wide-open Nico Lozada ’18, who coolly slotted the ball past the goalkeeper. This proved to be the difference in the contest, and the Bears held on to the narrow lead until the final whistle and claimed their second straight Ivy League Championship.
As winners of the 2018 tournament, Brown will host next year’s tournament as well, in hopes of grasping the three-peat.