WALTHAM, MA – The Vassar College men’s soccer team fought a hard, back-and-forth game against host Brandeis University in second-round NCAA Division III action on Sunday afternoon, but the host Judges’ Sam Ocel scored the game-winning goal with 30 seconds remaining in regulation to secure a dramatic 1-0 victory.
Brandeis scored off a long pass from Lee Russo to Ocel, who headed the ball from nine yards out across the goal to the left corner.
Junior goalkeeper Ryan Grimme had another phenomenal outing in goal, recording seven saves. Much like the opening-round victory over Tufts on Saturday night, Grimme stopped several Brandeis shots that seemed destined for the back of the goal.
Vassar finishes its season 13-5-3, arguably the finest in school history. The 2012 campaign marked the first time that the Brewers advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Tournament since the 1999 season. Brandeis (18-2-1) will most likely face Williams College next.
Grimme started strong again in goal, deflecting a high shot in the early minutes of play that looked as if it would hit the bottom of the crossbar and possibly go in. He would go on to make two more saves in the first half.
Vassar had an excellent chance for a goal in the first half when Nick Hess threw from the left side of the field to the right side of the box where Juliano Pereira headed the ball in. Unfortunately, the linesman called Pereira offsides. The Brewers and Judges went into halftime tied 0-0.
Four minutes into the second half, Pereira found Tom Wiechert on a breakaway, but Wiechert’s shot went just right of the goal’s top right corner. Wiechert almost found another breakaway goal with 33 minutes remaining in the second half when he dribbled past two Brandeis defenders, but Brandeis goalkeeper Blake Minchoff stopped Wiechert’s shot.
Vassar freshman Jordan Palmer found a scoring opportunity with ten minutes left in regulation when he sent a fast and low shot from 25 yards out. His shot just missed the left post. Senior Zander Mrlik almost had a goal with five minutes remaining, off a corner kick from Justin Mitchell, but Brandeis’ Kyle Feather had a defensive save header.