Sophomore Sean Rosa entered Thursday night's NCAA Tournament game with four goals on the season, but none was bigger than the one he tallied against Stony Brook, as Rosa scored at the 103:02 mark to give Brown a thrilling 1-0 win in double overtime. The win gives the Bears their first NCAA victory since 2007, and moves them to the second round, where they will face the University of North Carolina.
"Stony Brook gave us all we could handle, particularly in the second half, but I thought the guys came out and played exceptionally well in the first half," said head coach Mike Noonan. "We’ve been a very resilient team all year, and I think that we showed that by hanging in and winning it at the end."
The first half was statistically dominated by the Bears, as they
outshot Stony Brook 14-4, and had a 2-0 advantage in corners.
However, Bruno lacked the right touch around goal, as a failure to
finish kept the game tied 0-0 heading into halftime despite a
number of good looks for Brown. The first came just a minute in, as
the Bears got possession off the faceoff, and brought the ball
quickly upfield before lofting a cross into the middle, where a
Brown header went just wide of net.
Bruno had another good look with 36 minutes left in the half, as the Bears sent a cross in front of goal to the right post, where senior Nick Elenz-Martin was able to shake free from the defense. However, the shot from Elenz-Martin again was sent just wide, giving the Seawolves another reprieve. The trend continued through the end of the half, as neither team was able to find the back of net, despite the 18 combined shots.
It was quickly apparent that the second half would have a much different feel, as the Seawolves came out of the locker room playing a more aggressive style, and immediately showed that they were not prepared to go quietly. Stony Brook got easily their best look of the game just 10 minutes into the half, as a stolen pass resulted in a fast break downfield for the Seawolves. A nifty pass by the Stony Brook attacker resulted in what appeared to be a one-on-one against Brown keeper Paul Grandstrand (Orono, MN), but sophomore Evan Coleman (Amherst, MA) made a tremendous defensive play, coming flying from behind to knock the ball out of bounds and preserve the tie. Though Stony Brook got a corner from the play, Grandstrand made an impressive save on the ensuing shot, ending the scoring threat.
After an early burst of offense in the second, with nine combined shots in the first 15 minutes, the action settled down a bit, with both squads playing terrific defense, and denying good looks. Brown had another near miss with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation. After a short corner and cross left the ball near the middle of the goal, senior T.J. Thompson got a head on it, but just missed the net as the ball glanced off the post. Over the final six minutes though, defense was again the rule, as the score remained 0-0 to force a sudden death overtime.
Bruno had the first good look in the extra frame, as the Bears passed into the box and got the ball in good position, but the Stony Brook keeper came out of net to knock the ball out of bounds. The Seawolves had a chance of their own with just 15 seconds remaining, as Stony Brook had a free kick from just outside the 18-yard box after a foul on Brown, but the Bears were able to clear the ball without incident, and the game went to a second 10-minute overtime.
With both teams looking worn down early in the second overtime, it appeared that Brown might be headed to penalty kicks for the first time since 1975. However, with just over seven minutes remaining in the frame, junior Jon Okafor (Verona, NJ) lofted a perfect cross from left to right across the Stony Brook goal, where Rosa was waiting to fire it into net for the game-winner.
"I saw the post was empty, and immediately took off for it," said Rosa. "Jon [Okafor] saw me there and did what he does best, and gave the ball back to me in the perfect spot for the goal.”
With the win, the Bears move on to face North Carolina in the second round. Brown will square off against the Tar Heels in Durham, North Carolina on Sunday afternoon.