Although Williams’ undefeated streak was snapped after a disappointing loss to Wheaton the Sunday before last, men’s soccer took the loss in stride by rebounding with a come-from-behind victory over Conn. College last Saturday. By overcoming a two-goal deficit in an aggressive second half, the Ephs improved their record to 4-1 on the season and rose to the top of the highly competitive NESCAC with an impressive record of 3-0.
“The game [last Saturday] really showed that this team has tremendous character,” co-captain Sam Empson ’09 said. “To come from behind like that, away in a tight game, was really a testament to how hard we have worked and how much we believe in each other.”
The visiting Williams team struggled in the first half of the contest against Conn. College as the Ephs’ defense uncharacteristically faltered against the Camels’ offensive pressure. Conn. College wasted no time exploiting the Ephs’ defensive line. With goals by Matt Hula in the 13th minute and Trevor Prophet just 10 minutes later, the Camels created a two-goal lead within the first half hour of the game. In addition to outscoring the Williams squad, Conn. College also held a 12 to 9 shot advantage over the Ephs during the first half.
The Eph squad that entered the second half looked much more like a team at the top of its conference. Nine minutes into the half, Empson scored the Ephs’ first goal on a penalty kick that could not blocked by Camel goalkeeper Ted Lane. The foul was drawn when a Camel defender pulled down a streaking Charlie Romero ’11 in the box.
The offensive surge did not stop there. Breaking through the Camels’ defense, the Ephs posted their second goal of the half when Peter Gordon ’09 rocketed an unassisted point-blank shot into the right corner of the net only 11 minutes after Empson’s penalty kick. With the game tied the Williams defense held off the Conn. College offense, allowing only one shot on goal in the entire second half.
The game’s final and most dramatic goal came in the last three minutes of the game. Empson had an indirect kick that was then taken by Gordon, but Lane of the Camels narrowly blocked the goal. Joe Vella ’11 seized the opportunity when the ball was deflected by Lane and shot it in for the winning goal with less than three minutes remaining. If the Ephs squandered opportunities in the first half, they more than made up for it in the second by producing three goals from eight shots taken.
“The boys showed great resiliency, led by Sam Empson to overcome the Camels in scoring three goals in the second half,” Head Coach Mike Russo said. “It was a tremendous team effort and hopefully will springboard us from here on in.”
Both Russo and the captains agree that the Ephs’ playing was less than acceptable in the first half, but was negated by a tremendous turn-around in the second.
“We started the game poorly and dug ourselves into a deep hole against a good opponent,” said co-captain Daniel Curbelo Zeidman ’09. “Thankfully, we didn’t give up and were able to get the result we needed. We just need to find a way to play like we did in the second half for an entire game. Once we do that, we’ll be set.”
Williams played Keene State yesterday but the results came in too late for print. Men’s soccer will next face Trinity on Saturday and Babson on Sunday. Both games will be held on Cole Field.