Soccer downs Bantams on late goal

A week past settling for a draw after surrendering a game-tying goal with 27 seconds remaining in regulation, men’s soccer (3-1-1, 2-0-1 in the NECAC) eked out a 1-0 victory over Trinity (1-3-2, 1-2-1) on the strength of a goal from Sky Riggs ’05 that came with just 20 ticks left on the clock. The Ephs dominated play throughout and without the surprisingly excellent play of Bantam goalkeeper Michael Doherty, who tallied 11 saves on the day, the result would likely have been far less narrow.

“I would say that that was the biggest goal I’ve scored in my time at Williams,” Riggs said. “I’m pretty sure it’s the only game-winner I’ve had. It means a lot to me especially because I haven’t really hit my goal-scoring form yet this season so to have broken through in a big spot like that is certainly a good feeling.”

The Ephs put the pressure on Doherty and the Bantams early and often in the game, sending off a total of 28 shots, but had their efforts stymied time and time again by the mammoth Trinity keeper. Riggs noted that Doherty’s performance was particularly unexpected given that the Ephs had had their way with him in their matches against the Bantams in the past two seasons.

“I actually thought offensively we were more cohesive than we’ve been to this point in the season, but our finishing wasn’t quite sharp enough,” he said. “Their goalie had a ridiculous day, which is funny because we’ve played against him the past two years and he’s been atrocious. He deserves a lot of credit though, he came up huge, he had a couple breakaway saves – he was big.”

To wit, the Ephs beat the Bantams 4-0 in 2001 and then 6-1 last season.

Doherty could not stop everything that came his way this past weekend, however, and as the end of 90 minutes drew nigh the Ephs finally got their break. Doherty managed to get a glove on the shot taken by John Hillman ’07 from the outer edges of the Bantam 18-yard box, but the Trinity keeper was unable to control the ball and Riggs, who was charging in from the right side, managed to punch the ball into the net to send the Ephs to the 1-0 win.

“It was probably the easiest goal I’ve ever scored; it was awesome,” Riggs said. “It’s safe to say that we were putting really good pressure on the goal throughout, so when we scored it wasn’t really out of the blue, the whole game went pretty well for us.

“If it wasn’t the biggest goal I’ve ever scored it was certainly the most timely; you don’t get many chances to score that late and have it matter so much so it’s definitely a good feeling.”

Though the Ephmen were without their primary sweeper, Matt Aronson ’05, who was absent in observance of Rosh Hashanah, the team played stingy defense and allowed the Bantams to ring off only seven shots in the game. Keith Jackson ’06 and Bryan McCoy ’04 played particularly well. The shutout was the third on the season for Nick Armington ’06.

“I do think we had a pretty good defensive showing and without Matt we all knew we had to step it up a little bit,” McCoy said. “The other three guys knew that I’ve not traditionally played as sweeper so they knew they had to play a good game and they did and we had a good result.”

To be sure, the club played well on Saturday and was easily the superior team, but at the end of the day its wins, losses and ties that matter and the significance of the narrow victory was not lost on the team.

“Coach had mentioned that this game was a turning point of sorts in the season and how true that is I’m not entirely sure,” Riggs said. “But winning was certainly a boost to our campaign thus far because a tie would have been so below our level given the kind of team Trinity is.”

“The difference between a win and a tie is going to show up on paper and is going to have some psychological effect, but in all other senses it did not change the facts very much,” McCoy said. “We scored a goal with 20 seconds left, whether it was a tie or a win we dominated the game, but we couldn’t finish.

“In either case it was a pretty good performance by the team and a continued struggle to put the ball in the net. That said, the result on paper is pretty key to us. It’s tough to predict the effect that a tie with Trinity would have had on the rest of the league; it would have definitely been a surprise to other teams I think.”

The Ephs will be back at it this afternoon as they square off against Keene State. Keene has proven a worthy opponent for Williams the past two years, losing 4-3 in 2001 before beating the Ephs 2-1 last season. Action begins at 4:15 p.m. down at Cole Field.