With a triumphant 5-0 victory over Wesleyan on Saturday, Williams reclaimed the Little Three championship, the annual competition between Williams, Wesleyan, and Amherst. Last year, in a sub-par season for the Ephs, Little Three honors went to Amherst, wresting the title away from the Ephmen for the first time in more than a decade. The victory over Wesleyan seals off a tremendous regular season for the Ephs, who are now 13-1 and poised to make a run for the New England Championship.
Wesleyan was highly skilled but miserably disorganized, especially in the back. Williams’ quick, attacking style of play exposed this glaring weakness as the Ephs maintained constant pressure, outshooting the Cardinals 21-4.
Williams first goal came 12 minutes into the game, on a strike from forward Nick Trebat ’99 following a quick combination play between Trebat and midfielder Dan Pozen ’99. The goal did not necessarily open the floodgates for the Ephs, as Williams relaxed into a premature defensive shell which led to a few dangerous Cardinal opportunities. The Ephmen quickly regained composure and in the thirty-first minute, struck again on a goal from Ted Giannacopolous ’02. Pozen initiated the play with a crafty through ball to Trebat on the left wing, who delivered a near-post cross to a streaking Giannacopolous. The freshman received the ball on his left foot and slotted a composed finish past goalkeeper Mark Penrod.
Wesleyan held the Ephs offense in check for the remainder of the half, and Williams had to wait until the second half to break the game wide open. Fourteen minutes into the half, Angelo Patentas ’99 tore down the left wing and sent a low, hard cross into the penalty box to Pozen, who powered a left-footed shot into the net for his second goal of the year.
Williams, wanting to make a statement to the NCAA tournament committee, did not let up. Trebat and Patentas each added a goal late in the second half to cap off the resounding 5-0 win. Patentas’s goal was memorable, as the senior, playing in his last regular season game on Cole Field, dribbled through three defenders and outran one other before slipping the ball delicately past reserve keeper Sean Bowditch.
Patentas, along with fellow seniors Steve Danbusky, Christian Dankers, Dan Pozen, Jon Ilgen, Nick Trebat, and Nick Swan, expected Saturday to be their final performance on the hallowed ground of Cole Field. Williams, with only one loss, was all but assured a second seed in the New England region of the NCAA tournament, which would have awarded the Ephs a bye until next Saturday. Late Monday night, however, the tournament selection committee confirmed otherwise, as Williams received the number three seed, behind Middlebury and Plymouth State.
The Ephs seniors now have another chance to prove their mettle on Cole Field when they take on number six seed Bowdoin on Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. The Ephs are seeded behind number one Plymouth State (NH) and Middlebury. Middlebury is the only team to have beaten the Ephs this year, scoring with just three minutes remaining in a second overtime period.
“At first I was a little disappointed because I wouldn’t mind a week of rest, Patentas said about the surprise ending. “But as I thought about it some more I realized it’s a blessing. Now we get to play at home for one last hurrah.”