The men’s soccer team split a pair of University Athletic Association (UAA) games this weekend, falling to the Brandeis University (Mass.) Judges 3-1 on Friday before rebounding with a dramatic 1-0 double overtime victory over the New York University (NYU) Violets on Sunday night. The Eagles moved to 9-6-2 on the season and now stand at 3-2-1 in UAA play.

In Friday’s match-up, the Eagles fell behind early in their loss to the 17th-ranked Judges. Brandeis senior midfielder Sam Ocel netted two goals in the first 48 minutes to put the Eagles in a 2-0 hole.

“They just put it away, and that really put us in a hole,” Head Coach Sonny Travis said. “It changed our whole mentality of attack and we had to gamble.”

Brandeis junior midfielder Kyle Feather was credited with the assist for both of the goals.

The Eagles had a chance to even the score in the final minutes of the first frame, but were unable to finish either of the scoring chances.

“I think that definitely would have changed the energy and the momentum of the game if we had scored before the half, but we didn’t,” Travis said.

The first was a header from sophomore forward Stephen Gathman in the 43rd minute that went off the crossbar. The second opportunity came two minutes later on a shot from freshman midfielder Connor Curtin, which was deflected away by Brandeis senior goalkeeper Blake Minchoff.

In the second half, the Judges would extend their lead with a goal in the 81st minute from sophomore forward Tyler Savonen.

Emory senior midfielder Andrew Natalino answered at the 87:21 mark, with his team-leading 12th goal of the season on a free kick, putting the team on the scoreboard at 3-1.

The Eagles finished with an 11-9 edge in shots, but were unable to get enough past Minchoff to pull off the victory.

The squad was forced to bounce back quickly with only a day in between matches to prepare for the Violets.

“We learned we need to come out strong from the beginning and play for 90 minutes,” Natalino said of the team’s performance against Brandeis. “We need to play much quicker and work with each other more.”

These lessons proved vital in what turned out to be a defensive battle between two teams with UAA title aspirations.

Emory prevailed in dramatic fashion after sophomore midfielder Michael Rheaume knocked in his second goal of the season just 24 seconds into a second overtime. It was Rheaume’s first career golden goal.

“I am going to say it was probably one of the most important wins, not just this year, but for Emory because it keeps us alive for the conference title,” Travis said.

Natalino was credited with the assist, his second of the season, and now leads all Eagles with 26 points.

Freshman goalkeeper Abe Hannigan started in goal for Emory. Hannigan kept the Eagles in the game with an impressive performance in goal.

Rheaume’s goal was set up by Hannigan’s deflection of a shot from NYU senior forward Kyle Green.

Hannigan also recorded a key stop in the second overtime, making a diving save to deny NYU sophomore midfielder Nimo Bergstroem of a game-winner.

“He was just on, and I thought he was a really good decision on the day,” Travis said.

It was Hannigan’s second career shutout. He recorded three saves on the day and ran his record to 7-3-1 on the season. The Eagles outshot the Violets 15-10 in what Natalino described as a gritty team effort.

“Everyone was real tired and sore,” Natalino said. “But we were sick of losing, so everyone had a mindset that we were somehow going to find a way to win no matter what.”

The win over NYU kept the Eagles alive for the UAA title with just one game remaining in the season, a road game at Carnegie Mellon University (Penn.). An Eagles victory over the Tartans coupled with a Washington University (Mo.) loss or tie will result in at least a share of the title for Emory.

There is also a potential NCAA Tournament berth on the line. The winner of the UAA receives an automatic bid to the tournament, while all other teams are analyzed for at-large bids based on record and strength of schedule, among other factors.

Natalino, however, insists there is more in the team’s sights than titles and postseason berths in the their regular season finale.

“My class has never beaten Carnegie, so we really want the win,” Natalino said. “There is a feeling among the team that we know we’re going to do our job and get the W.”

The game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.

By Ryan Smith


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