Men’s soccer suffers slump

In the last two weeks, men’s soccer (7-3-2, 4-2-1 in the NESCAC) has been on a slight downward spiral. After a shutout win against visiting Wesleyan on Oct. 11, Williams sandwiched a loss to Tufts on Saturday between ties against Colby and Springfield last Sunday and Thursday, respectively.

Last Sunday, men’s soccer traveled to Maine with high hopes of beating Colby and turning around a two-game winless streak. Unfortunately, neither the Ephs nor Mules offense could capitalize to score a goal and the game ended in a 0-0 draw.

Eph goalkeeper Andrew Graham ’10 posted six saves in his fourth shutout of the season. Unfortunately the Williams offense, who outshot Colby 11-8, could not find the back of the Mules’ net.
Just a day earlier men’s soccer endured something that had not happened since 1994: a loss to Tufts. The Jumbos’ win snapped a 13-game winless streak against the Ephs, but marked only the second loss for Williams within the NESCAC.

Tufts quickly gained an advantage as Dan Shoening, who was helped with a rare assist by Jumbo goalkeeper David McKeon, scored in the 10th minute. Within the last five minutes of the first half, Tufts added to its lead with a goal by forward Ron Colman that was made possible by a defensive miscue on the side of the Ephs. Despite outshooting Tufts 9-5 and controlling possession for the first half of the game, Williams’ simply could not get past the Tufts defense.

The Ephs entered the second half looking much the same way they did in the first, continuing to squander opportunities despite again outshooting the Jumbos 10-4. In the game’s 87th minute the Jumbos solidified the win as Tufts scored its third goal. Trailing 3-0 in the last two minutes of the game spurred the Williams’ offense and Colin Ainsworth ’11, assisted by Peter Houston ’10, broke through and helped the team avoid a shutout by scoring to leave the final score at 3-1.

“We just came out flat against Tufts,” co-captain Sam Empson ’09 said. “We let a goal in pretty soon and the defense continued that way for the rest of the game.”

Last Thursday Williams experienced its first tie of the season against Springfield in a game that ended 2-2 in double-overtime. Springfield held the lead for the first half of the match but the Ephs wasted no time in the second half and tied the scored on a point-blank shot by Peter Gordon ’09. The Ephs then pulled ahead with a goal from co-captain Conor Smith ’10, when he rocketed the ball into the upper right hand corner from within the six-yard box, after the cross bar deflected a header by Pierre Meloty-Kapella ’10. With just 2:27 remaining in the game Springfield forward Tip Nolan blasted the ball from 25 yards out and forced the game into overtime where neither team could score.

Williams’ only win in its last four games came at home against NESCAC rival Wesleyan on Oct. 11. The Ephs shut out the Cardinals 4-0 and Graham had four saves in to earn his third shutout of the season. The Ephs’ offense jumped out quickly with three goals in the first half: a direct kick into the corner of the net by Empson, a combined effort by Gordon and Smith, who teamed up for two goals in the game, and a shot by Ainsworth.

After starting the season on a high note with five wins and just one loss in the first six games, the squad finds itself trying to end its recent downward trend. They have recorded only two wins in their last six matches, yet are currently second in conference standings behind Middlebury.

The Ephs will attempt to get back on track when they face Amherst away on Saturday. “Hopefully, the Amherst game will go well,” Empson said. “It’s a big game and if we win these next two, we’ll be hosting the NESCAC.”