Senior forward Bridgette Varin got it done on offense while sophomore goalie Bridget Lang hung tough in net. And together, the Bridget(te) brigade helped lead the UR women’s soccer team to a 1-0 win over University Athletic Assocation conference foe Brandeis University last Saturday. With the Judges ranked No. 15 in the nation, the win was huge for a UR team that has aspirations of making a deep playoff run this November.
“We didn’t play well in our conference loss to New York University, so it was important for us to come back and reestablish ourselves again in the conference,” head coach Terry Gurnett said. “I was pleased that we came out with some fire in our bellies.”
Varin broke a 0-0 deadlock in the 64th minute when she took a long shot from the left side of the field. Brandeis goalkeeper Francine Kofinas was unable to jump high enough to knock the ball away, and the shot snuck just underneath the crossbar for what turned out to be the game winner.
“When I got the ball, I turned and was looking to cross it or make a drop pass but I didn’t really see anything, so I decided I was going to just rip it,” Varin said, whose goal was her sixth of the season. “I think scoring the first goal definitely took some of the wind out of their sails because after that it was more of a one-sided game.”
In goal, Lang made seven saves and earned her third shutout of the season. Brandeis had a number of good scoring opportunities in the first half, but Lang was up to the task. She made a couple impressive saves, including one in the 21st minute when she made a diving stop at the low left post off a shot that looked like it was going to be a goal.
“At first, it was definitely a bit nerve-racking because they were ripping shots from far out,” Lang said. “I had to be on my toes for the entire game, but once we started to pick up our marks I felt a lot more comfortable in goal.”
The Yellowjacket defense also played extremely well. Except for a couple of close shots, UR prevented Brandeis from getting anywhere close to the net. Almost all of Brandeis’ seven shots on goal were taken from the back of or outside the 18-yard box.
“We started defending early on [in the field] so they didn’t have much opportunity to break into our final third of the field,” Lang said. “Our defense really stepped up and played with urgency.”
Brandeis came into the game with a seven game winning streak. In addition to ending the Judges’ streak, the ’Jackets gave Brandeis their first shutout loss of the season.
“One of the things we’ve been looking for all year long is consistency with our team defense, starting with our forwards into our midfielders and then our backs,” Gurnett said. “Over the past few games, we’ve really started to develop a sense of who we are defensively. Brandeis has some good offensive weapons and they score a lot of goals, so I was pretty happy that we were able to shut them out.”
UR’s win over Brandeis pushes their season record to 8-3-1 (1-1-0 UAA). It was the second time in the last two weeks that the ’Jackets took down a nationally ranked opponent, as they beat No. 7 William Smith College 2-1 on Sept. 29. UR is currently ranked No. 25 in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
Winners in three of their last four games, the ’Jackets will return to the field this Friday for another big UAA matchup against the University of Chicago at 5 p.m. in Fauver Stadium.
Mulberg is a member of the class of 2014.