Men’s soccer (1-0) kick-started its season with a rout of Castleton State on Saturday. With an offensive assault on the visiting Spartans’ (1-3) net, the Ephs coasted to an 8-1 victory on opening day.
The Spartans had the momentum early, being the first team to get onto the scoreboard 4:09 into the game. But it was the only point they were able to achieve. Gaston Kelly ’11 answered back only 37 seconds later with a goal assisted by Peter Gordon ’09, and from there the game belonged to the Ephs. By the end of the first half Williams had worked to a comfortable 5-1 lead, with goals by Sam Empson ’09, who then assisted Kelly in his second score, an unassisted goal by Pierre Meloty-Kapella ’10, and the final by Colin Ainsworth ’11.
The numbers leave no doubt as to which team dominated through the first half of the contest; Williams’ shots-on-goal during the first was a whopping 16 compared to Castleton’s one, and the Ephs held a 6-0 advantage on corner kicks.
The second half continued much in the same fashion as the first, with the Spartans showing some offensive promise in the beginning, but ultimately deteriorating. Empson notched the first goal of the second half, giving the Ephs a 6-1 lead. Alex Kramer ’09, whose execution of multiple crosses and runs, assisted both Matthew Staiger ’12 and Peter Houston ’10 for the final two goals of the game.
Williams had 12 shots-on-goal to Castleton’s three, and three corner kicks to Castleton’s one.
This will be Head Coach Mike Russo’s 30th season coaching Williams soccer, and he plans to make it a memorable one by bringing out the best in his demonstrably talented team.
“How we will do this year depends on several players at key positions really raising their game and becoming dominant at those positions,” Russo said. “We’ll need to focus on every single NESCAC game and take each opponent seriously.”
The Ephs, who finished 12-5-2 last season and advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament, return a number of starters from last season and will have eight seniors, notably, tri-captain Empson, who was a Second-Team All-NESCAC selection last year. He and fellow tri-captain Daniel Curbelo-Zeidman ’09 will ground the Ephs’ midfield game this season.
The team’s leading scorer last season was junior tri-captain Conor Smith ’10, with five goals. Russo will look to Smith to anchor the Ephs’ backline, along with Chris Gocksch ’09 and Brian Dolezal ’09. The Ephs only averaged 1.65 goals per game last year, which will be an important point of improvement if they hope to go farther this season. Russo is depending on the skill levels of Sam Denton-Schneider ’09, Meloty-Kappella, Houston, Kelly and Charlie Romero ’10 to lead the team up front this season, and hopefully bring the Ephs to the level of scoring they need to succeed in conference play.
“Our strength is that we are a physical team but also very skilled and excel in our quick, attacking passing game,” Smith said.
Andrew Graham ’10 returns to goal this season after a .764 save percentage in 19 games last season. Sophomores Andrew Lyons-Berg ’11 and Jeffrey Lauer ’11 will share time in goal as well.
This Saturday men’s soccer will begin conference play, when Williams travels to Bates.