By Jason Siegel — SPECIAL TO THE CHRONICLE
The Brown Bears men’s soccer team came into Hofstra Soccer Stadium looking to extend its two-game winning streak.
While Brown (8-5-2, 2-2-1 Ivy League) was unable to find the back of the net, Hofstra sophomore forward Luke Brown was able to light up the scoreboard for the Pride. His unassisted goal with 9:59 remaining in the first half proved to be the difference, as the Pride (6-5-6, 3-1-4 CAA) picked up a 1-0 victory in their final regular season game on Tuesday night.
Luke Brown was able to chip the ball in from three yards out after a shot by Hofstra senior Danny Elliott was blocked by a Bears defender.
Brown said after the game that his goal was lucky, and attributed it to Elliott’s ability to dribble his way through defenders.
The Pride spent much of their time in the first half on offense. Hofstra outshot Brown 12-4 in the first 45 minutes, and Pride goalie Alex Ashton did not have to make a save during that span.
Hofstra head coach Richard Nuttall said that his team’s play in the first half was “outstanding” and was “very pleased” with how the Pride performed.
Coach Nuttall added that Hofstra also had some missed opportunities in the first half.
“We didn’t finish some of our chances (to score in the first half),” Nuttall said.
Along with Luke Brown, who totaled four shots on goal in the first half, the Pride were also paced by Danny Elliott on offense, who had three shots on goal and whose moves led to Brown’s score.
Senior Mani Walcott also played aggressively for the Pride, battling the Bears for possession and passing the ball to set up scoring chances for his teammates.
In the second half, the Bears came out with more aggression and had more scoring opportunities.
Adding to their chances, Coach Nuttall said that the Pride did not play with as much confidence in the second half.
“We turned it into a scrappy game in the second half,” Nuttall said. “We got a little bit overcautious.”
Junior forward Toby Howell led the charge on offense for the Bears, tallying three shots in the second half.
Brown’s newfound success on offense meant more action for Hofstra’s goalie Alex Ashton, who finished with four saves.
Ashton said that the mental side of the game was key to his ability to keep the ball out of the net over the final 45 minutes.
“Concentration’s the most important thing when you have nothing to do all game and then have to make a save at the end,” Ashton said after the victory.
Ashton made a key save when he dove to the ground and poked a shot away with his fingertips with 3:30 left in the second half.
Keeping the ball out of the net took a team effort for Hofstra down the stretch. Defenders repeatedly blocked shots before they reached Ashton. A wall of defenders blocked a shot with 5:30 remaining in second half to preserve the shutout.
Three minutes before, it didn’t appear that Hofstra would have a shutout. A defensive breakdown allowed a Brown shot to trickle into the net, but the Bears were whistled for offsides, which took the goal off the board and kept the score 1-0.
Brown would have a few more chances for the remaining eight and a half minutes, but Brown could not score before the final horn sounded.
With Tuesday’s victory, Hofstra has now won five of its past six games. Coach Nuttall said that finishing the season strong is important for his team, especially after they went the entire month of September without a victory.
However, the lone loss in that stretch was a 2-0 defeat at the hands William & Mary, the team that the Pride will face in the CAA Tournament quarterfinals on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.
Coach Nuttall hopes that their win over Brown will give the Pride confidence that they can take down talented teams in the tournament.
“I think we’ll see these boys play with a little more pizzazz and confidence (against William & Mary),” Coach Nuttall said.
Despite the team’s early season struggles, the Hofstra men’s soccer team is playing at the right time, and looks to continue its success in the CAA Tournament.