Undefeated men’s soccer still on top in NESCAC

Men’s soccer (4-0-0) remained perfect on the season with a 3-0 victory sending Little Three rival Wesleyan (3-1-0) to its first loss of the season. Leading the way for the Ephs was Alex Blake ’03 who scored twice, raising his NESCAC-leading point total to 19.

“We were very happy to get the win, playing down there [at Wesleyan] against a team that was likewise undefeated; it’s always nice to come out with a win,” said head coach Mike Russo. “I wouldn’t say we played the way we were capable of playing, however.”

In typical Williams soccer fashion, the Ephs put the pressure on the Cardinals early. The Eph attack was effective in the early going, resulting in numerous scoring opportunities that would go for naught until the 17th minute.

“Our finishing, in particular, wasn’t sharp,” said Russo. “We squandered many opportunities. There will be games where the opposition will limit us to only four of five scoring opportunities, and when those games come we need to capitalize on our opportunities at a higher clip than we did against Wesleyan. A lot of that can be attributed to the strong defensive play of Wesleyan, and their goalie [Brad Wasik] in particular, but still I’d like to see us convert on more of our opportunities.”

The Ephs scored their first goal on a scramble in the 18-yard box after a corner kick by Josef Powell ’02. Finally gaining control of the ball was Ted Giannacopoulos ’02, who sent a pass to Marc Williams ’02. Williams collected the pass and sent the ball into the back of the net. The goal was the first of Williams’ career.

Ten minutes later, Blake notched the first of his two goals with a 10-yard chip over Wasik. Assisting on the play was Powell, who brought his season point total to 16 with the play.

Despite a slight lapse at the end of the first half, the Ephs remained in control of the game throughout, but could not connect on another goal until the 77th minute of play when Romel Wallen ’04 sent a through ball down the left flank to Blake, who received the pass, and sunk a 15-yard shot into the goal.

With a 3-0 lead, Russo sent in goalie Scott Faley ’05 to relieve starter Robbie Kirsher ’03.

“Kirsher and Faley have been good in goal,” said Russo. “Neither of them has made any mistakes that have cost the team important goals.”

The Ephs will return home for their next game against Keene State on Wednesday at 4:15 p.m. The game is only the team’s second home game.

“Keene State is a good team, we can’t look past them,” said Russo. “They’re a little on the younger side, but they’re one of the best teams in New England. They’re very quick, they’re well coached, they’re disciplined – they will be tough. It will be nice to play them at home.”

The Ephs have played a dominating brand of soccer so far. With 18 goals scored for versus two goals scored against, the Ephs have tallied an outrageous nine goals for every one they have given up.

“If we can get through this month unblemished, given our difficult schedule [of four away matches and two home matches in September] it would be a real accomplishment.”

The Ephs’ dominance has come about by overwhelming their opponents with shots. In only four games, the Ephs have managed 118 against only 30, which averages to almost four shots for every one taken against them.

Leading the way for the Ephs offensively have been Blake and Powell, who currently rank one and two in NESCAC scoring, respectively. Blake, with seven goals and five assists, is in good position to retain his position as the NESCAC’s leading point amasser.

Russo, however, attributes the Ephs’ dominance to an entire team effort. “Our success on the season is attributable to the total team effort we’ve benefited from,” said Russo. “Blake and Powell – who have been terrific – aside, guys like Giannacopoulos and [Richard] Bode [’02] and [Andreas] Boye [’04] and Ryan Olsen [’04] and Khari Stephenson [’04] and many others have turned in great performances. We have many unsung heroes.”