Men’s soccer suffers 2-1 loss to Amherst

Despite the dedicated support of men’s soccer fans who traveled to Amherst for the rivalry on Saturday, the Ephs (7-4-2, 4-3-1 in the NESCAC) could not overcome the Jeffs (8-3-1, 4-3-1), falling 2-1. Williams suffered the loss after taking control at the beginning of the game. After Williams scored the first goal Amherst rebounded with two goals of its own to steal the win. The loss marks the second year in a row that the Ephs have fallen in regular-season play to the Jeffs.

Saturday’s game was the Ephs’ second-to-last regular season match this fall and the only contest against Amherst so far. With an important NESCAC ranking riding on the game, Williams felt the pressure. With their win, the Jeffs move even closer toward a possible first-round bye in the conference tournament, while the Ephs, who have won only two of their last seven matches, continue to struggle.

“As a team, the last few games have been a tough patch in our season,” co-captain Sam Empson ’09 said. “Going 7-2 to 7-4-2 has been really hard mentally for the team, especially because of all the opponents we definitely could, or should, have beaten. The Amherst game was a real let-down for us, especially because we really should have won.”

Williams started out the game with grim determination, and just 12 minutes into the first half, a shot by Pierre Moloty-Kapella ’10 bounced off an Amherst defender and landed in the back of the net.

Empson said that going up 1-0 was crucial for team morale, which he felt was moving the ball around and making good decisions on the field.

However, the trend of own goals continued in a less-than-desirable way for the Ephs. With only 1:10 remaining in the half, the Jeffs managed to deflect the ball off an Eph defender as well. This goal not only tied the game, but it also gave the Jeffs momentum entering the break, while the Ephs left the first half deflated.

“Letting in the goal in the last minute of the half was an extreme blow for us mentally, especially because it was an undeserving goal – off a cross and a miscommunication between some of our players that led to the own goal,” Empson said. “After that, the second goal was another defensive miscue that resulted in a punt landing in our own box that went completely uncontested.”

The Jeffs used their momentum to propel themselves forward in the second half, as Jae Heo sent a ball flying past goalkeeper Andrew Graham ’10, notching the final goal of the game. The Ephs continued to fight with determination and essentially dominated the field, having a total of seven shots in the second period while the Jeffs had only five. Despite Williams’ aggressive play and several scoring opportunities, the team could not convert its talents and was forced to accept a disappointing outcome.

“With the defeat, our chances of hosting the NESCAC tournament are lost to Middlebury, our opponent this coming weekend, which will be the biggest game of our season thus far,” Empson said. “If we win, we will host the first round of the tournament on Sunday and we will hopefully regain the confidence we had at the beginning of the season.”

Williams, hoping to redeem itself in its final game of the regular season, will play Middlebury at home on 2:30 p.m. this Friday.