Men’s soccer was locked in a 2–2 stalemate with Binghamton last week when the whistle blew to end regulation play.
The Colonials were looking at 20 minutes of extra time when sophomore forward Oscar Haynes Brown buried a shot in the back of the net to end the overtime period in less than two minutes. The clutch shot was his third game-winning goal of the season.
Haynes Brown is on pace to become the highest goal-scorer men’s soccer has seen in seven years, with 10 games left in the season. He has recorded eight of GW’s 14 goals in seven games, and has already surpassed his goal total from last season. He is currently tied as the fifth-best in goals scored per game nationally.
At the rate he is going, Haynes Brown may become the first Colonial to tally double-digit goals since 2011, when then-senior forward Yoni Berhanu found the back of the net 11 times during his senior season.
“My main role is to score the goals, and sometimes it comes with quite a bit of pressure,” Haynes Brown said.
In the team’s season opener against Stony Brook, the sophomore recorded a hat trick in the second half to drive GW’s first win of the season. Three days later, Haynes Brown captured more than half of the goals in the team’s 6–0 blowout over cross-town rival American.
Head coach Craig Jones said he has been focusing on increasing efficient goal scoring in the last couple of years and was looking for players who had a natural instinct for scoring and strong finishing capabilities. He and his coaching staff found that in Haynes Brown.
“We brought him in to do that,” Jones said. “He’s really living up to his side of the bargain, so to speak, so anytime he’s on the field – he’s a threat.”
Haynes Brown came to GW after trials with professional clubs and semi-professional teams in his home country of England did not work out, he said.
As a freshman, Haynes Brown still led the Colonials with six goals to his name.
“You get better every year, so if you can put up good numbers as a first-year player and now as a sophomore, it’s great and you always look to improve on those numbers,” Jones said.
While leading the offense in goals, Haynes Brown dealt with injuries while adapting to the physicality of the game in the United States.
To prepare for the fall season, Haynes Brown trained twice a day for six days each week over the summer, including practicing hitting shots into the corners of the goal. During the spring season, he put on more muscle and weight to be able to better handle the more physical style of the game, he said.
“It’s not always just nice football, it’s not always just passing around in the back, you have to sometimes win the hard way,” Haynes Brown said.
Haynes Brown’s scoring success hasn’t gone unnoticed. When he takes the field, Jones, the head coach, said opponents are now guarding him more heavily.
“He’s going to draw fouls, he’s going to draw a lot of attention, which results a lot of knocks, a lot of kicks, a lot of bruises,” Jones said. “I think he’s physically matured a little bit and gotten a little bit stronger to help with some of that contact.”
Even with the pressure to score, Haynes Brown keeps a fun demeanor on the pitch both during games and in practices, senior forward Dylan Lightbourn said.
“That joking around, that little banter, it’s good because it can’t be all serious all the time,” Lightbourn said. “That helps with team camaraderie.”
Haynes Brown usually plays at the top of the team’s formation in front of the net, but when the middle gets crowded or the game gets more physical, he is moved out to the side of the field and Lightbourn is moved into the top spot to give Haynes Brown more space.
Haynes Brown’s ability to finish in front of the net has changed the game for a team that has recently struggled to find the back of the net, Lightbourn said.
“I think we work well together,” he said. “It’s always a fun time playing on the pitch with him – it’s not always serious but I think a lot of the time we’re on the same page.”
Despite his success in front of the net, Haynes Brown said he is “disappointed” in having scored eight goals. If he were able to capitalize on all of the opportunities he has had to find the back of the net, Haynes Brown said he would have tallied at least 13 goals this season – but he’s shooting for 15.
“That’s really the next step for him,” Jones said. “Really to keep adding and be more clinical in front of the goal.”
Men’s soccer returns to action Tuesday on the road against Duke. Kick off is slated for 7 p.m.