Two goals from Brown netted just five minutes apart finally severed Penn men’s soccer’s five-match undefeated streak.
The Quakers (7-4-3, 1-2-2 Ivy) battled through dreadful conditions on a rainy afternoon in Providence, yet couldn’t lift themselves past their two first-half concessions.
The Bears (5-8-1, 2-2-1) scored at the 16th and 21st minutes following an initially promising start for the Quakers. Penn seemed to control the rhythm at the outset as they pressured for chances up the field.
A brilliant through-ball from Charlie Gaffney to Matt Leigh was notched in goal but was called offside. But Penn looked optimistic up the field after its 0-0 result to Yale the weekend prior proved the Quakers needed to step up at the front.
Penn exploited Brown’s frequent turnovers as chances to pursue, and in the first 15 minutes of the game, Penn looked like the more dangerous team.
The Quakers found more chances in front of the goal after Leigh’s offside call. After Ben Stitz attempted a narrow angled shot, Leigh couldn’t finish on the chance either. Penn’s back line reset the attack from the ball cleared by Brown, but the effort ended after Leigh couldn’t stick his attempt at an overhead kick.
But Brown was opportunistic. At 17 minutes, the Bears ran the ball up the left wing and into the penalty area for a cross that was first headed away by Penn, but Brown junior Paul Elliot was well-positioned 20 plus yards out to net a long-range volley off the clearance.
The goal punctuated Penn’s coordination in the following minutes as mishits defined the Quakers’ interrupted rhythm. Yet the Bears looked increasingly confident after their opening goal.
Five minutes after their stunning volley from range, Brown doubled their lead with a set-piece from a corner kick sent near the far post. The Bears notched the ball in after a deflection off their own, and were well-positioned at the left of the goal to prevent their efforts from being offside.
Joey Bhangdia put in several crosses from the wing throughout the first half, but with often no one far enough up the field to receive the ball, Penn couldn’t convert.
Further chances for Penn also arose with Stitz’s precise passes from a distance, but efforts at the goal were immediately pressured away.
In the last three minutes of the first half, Brown stretched Penn’s defense wide once again by attempting another effort similar to the opening score. The shot flew over the goal on a Penn deflection, and Brown took the following corner with a cross to the far post that connected into an off-target header.
Despite its promising initial start, Penn had yet to notch a single shot on goal as the Quakers headed into halftime in much need of a reset.
But Brown resumed immediate pressure from the start of the second half, and for five minutes Penn could not progress the ball past the middle third. The Bears had lost 2-0 leads into the second half before, but they were stiff on Penn’s efforts to level.
A yellow card was named to freshman Leo Burney as the freshman was caught frustrated with his spikes too high in the air.
Senior keeper Dane Jacomen starred for Penn in the second half with four saves in the unrelenting rain, patching up holes in the defense that the Bears managed to pry for.
Brown dominated the pace early as it kept the ball up beyond the halfline, but Penn’s defense seemed to finally find solid footing late in the game. Nick Schimbeno took charge on Penn’s back line as he marked runners who attempted to slip by.
Stas Korzeniowski led Penn in shots as he tried at goal three times. At 17 minutes left, he attempted his characteristic run into the box past multiple defenders but couldn’t make the finish.
At 58 minutes in, Isaac McGinnis received a precise pass from RC Williams with a headed attempt, but the effort was saved.
Brown seemed to veer off focus as Penn’s efforts to fight back escalated. But at 30 minutes into the half, Penn’s best chance to score would be called off before it could even make the scoreboard. A cross into the box from Stitz on the left was taken on target by Burney yet saved, but Gaffney was positioned for the rebound and knocked a header right inside the right post. Brown’s keeper put his hands on the ball, but Penn argued that the save occurred behind the line. The officials were frugal on calling the goal as the Quakers remained scoreless.
A corner for Penn immediately followed, and the cross was deflected. Remaining in possession, Stitz ran his chance in front of the box until he was clipped on the shin by a Brown defender who made no contact on the ball. Penn again contested for the foul inside the penalty area, but the referee was uninterested in making the call, allowing Brown to run their counter to the other side of the field.
The match wouldn’t end without coach Brian Gill stepping up for his players from the sidelines as the Penn bench also contested the missed call. After a frustrating final 15 minutes with the Bears running down the clock, the Quakers had to let go for a 2-0 defeat on the road.
While this result likely puts Penn out of reach for the Ivy League title, the Quakers will look for redemption in their final two matches against Princeton at home and away at Harvard.