Men’s soccer rolls over Bowdoin, Westfield St.

Men’s soccer (3-0-0) was dominating this past week, posting 7-0 and 5-1 victories over Westfield State College and Bowdoin College, respectively.

Leading the way for the Ephs were Josef Powell ’02, who tallied four goals and four assists – good for 12 points in total – and Alex Blake ’03, who managed 10 points via three goals and four assists.

“We were pleased with the way we played this past week,” said Powell. “Especially against Bowdoin ? that was a big game for us. Our team and Bowdoin’s are two of the better teams in the NESCAC and the game was up there at their field, and they had huge fan support.”

Following last week’s 3-1 victory against Connecticut College in the season opener, the Ephmen came out swinging in their home opener against Westfield.

The Ephs dominated the game from the get-go, scoring their first goal when Powell sank a penalty kick into the lower left-hand corner of the net. Owl goalie Brian Ginisi guessed incorrectly on the shot, and the Ephs had a 1-0 lead.

Walker Waugh ’02 made it a 2-0 contest off a header sent in by Blake in the 27th minute of play.

The score remained 2-0 until the 51st minute when Powell scored the first of Williams five second half goals. Receiving the ball off a wall pass from Khari Stephenson ’04, Powell proceeded to break down the Owl defense, plowing through several Westfield defenders before sending a shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the net to stake the Ephs to a 3-0 lead.

The Owls temporarily kept the Eph attack in check until the 69th minute, when Williams went on a scoring tear that saw the score go from 3-0 to 6-0 over the course of a minute and 11 seconds.

Blake netted the first of the three goals off a corner kick sent in by Powell, before giving way to Ted Giannacopoulos ’02.

Thirty-four seconds after his goal, Blake sent a wall pass to Giannacopoulos who received the ball and sent a shot past Ginisi for the first of his two goals. The play was also assisted by Stephenson.

Thirty-seven seconds after that goal, Giannacopoulos again teamed up with Blake to make the score 6-0.

Schuyler Riggs ’05 scored the seventh and final goal of the day for Williams, after receiving a through ball from Ryan Olsen ’04; Riggs’ goal was the first of his collegiate career.

Despite the convincing victory, Mike Russo, head coach of men’s soccer, said he felt his team could have looked sharper out of the gate, and had room for improvement: “I was pleased with the second-half performance,” said Russo. “Our first-half performance, for some reason, seemed a bit sluggish, not sharp. That said, I thought we were totally in control of the game throughout.”

Looking ahead to their game against Bowdoin, Russo said: “We have to find a way to come out first half and really impose our style on the opposing team. Bowdoin’s a very good team and [the game] is up there [at Bowdoin]. If we don’t come out imposing our style on them we will have some problems.”

The Ephs wasted no time asserting themselves against the Polar Bears, with Blake scoring the first of his two goals only a minute and 20 seconds into play after receiving a free kick near the Bowdoin goal from Powell.

With little more than 20 minutes gone by, Powell picked up a goal of his own after Giannacopoulos and Richard Bode ’02 found him with a pass to make it a 2-0 contest.

Blake and Powell would each add another goal in the span of two and a half minutes near the end of the first half. Blake’s second goal of the day was again set up by Powell, after which Blake responded in kind, assisting on Powell’s second goal.

With two goals and three assists on the day, Powell collected seven points, pushing his team-leading total to 15 for the season. Blake, the defending NESCAC leading point-scorer, trails Powell by one point with 14.

When the first half came to a close, the visiting Ephs found themselves with a comfortable 4-0 lead over Bowdoin. Stephenson would close out the Ephmen scoring spree with a goal in the 61st minute, staking Williams to an all-but-insurmountable five-goal lead.

After Stephenson’s goal, Coach Russo sent in Scott Faley ’05 to relieve goalie Robbie Kirsher ’03.

Bowdoin was able to capitalize on Faley’s inexperience with little more than two minutes left in contention, however. Thomas Bresnehan pushed a shot past Faley off a feed from Bucky Jencks to spoil the Ephs’ shutout, sending the score to the 5-1 mark at which the contest would end. Faley did, however, record the first save of his collegiate career in the contest.

The hostile crowd the team met with in Maine certainly did not faze them: “I think a lot of the guys on the team like that environment,” Powell continued. “We were able to score early and we kept it coming. We played very strong on the defensive end and we moved the ball well through the midfield and our offense was able to finish on our opportunities. We played well together as a unit.”

Before the games this week, the Ephs rose to third in the most recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, which was published on Sept. 10 ? up one slot from the fourth place finish they managed in the initial poll. Bowdoin, the only other NESCAC team in the top 25, came in at number 23.

The Ephs next travel to Wesleyan on Saturday for a Little Three showdown.