NESCAC) defeated SUNY New Paltz (4-1-1) yesterday with a goal in the final minute of play to pick up its first win of the season following a draw with NESCAC and Little Three rival Wesleyan (0-0-1, 0-0-2) on Saturday.
The Ephs dominated play for most of the game yesterday, with 29 shots compared to the Hawks’ 6. While the team created opportunity after opportunity, it hardly made New Paltz keeper Peter Carmel work at all â€“ the team could only manage seven shots on net, and not one stretched Carmel at all until the final minute. The Ephs seemed as though they were headed into their second set of over-times in the past four days as the seconds ticked away. In the final minute, the Ephs had a throw in deep in the Hawks’ end, and the back line crept forward. As Ben Mackinnon ’10 received the throw in, he dribbled into space and served the ball into the box, hitting center back and captain Conor Smith ’10 directly on the head. Smith powered the ball past Carmel as he flew through the air, securing the 1-0 victory for the Ephs with only 26 seconds left. “We played pretty well,” Smith said of the match. “We had a lot of chances and we probably should have scored earlier but we finally scored at the end.
“It felt really awesome [to score the game winning goal],” he continued. “There wasn’t much time left. I just made a run at the end of the game and Ben had a really great ball and I was fortunate enough to put it in.”
Unfortunately, the team did not have the same success on Saturday. The Ephs were able to fire off 21 shots compared to the Cardinals’ 14 but could only get one in the back of the net. Gaston Kelly ’11 scored the team’s sole goal in the 49th minute of the match when Mackinnon fed him a nearly perfect cross and Kelly dove to the ball, heading it into the back corner. The Ephs continued to control the ball for most of the game with skilled one-touch passing. However, with 25 minutes left in regulation Pierre Meloty-Kapella ’10 received his second yellow card for a late slide tackle, leaving Williams a man down for the rest of the game. The Ephs continued to play well despite their numbers, going back and forth with the Cardinals through most of the second half. Eventually the Cardinals capitalized on their one man advantage, scoring off a corner kick late in the 74th minute that tied the game 1-1.
The Ephs maintained the tie throughout both overtime periods, defending a strong Cardinals offense yet failing to convert some close goal attempts of their own.
“I thought the team played pretty well overall,” Smith said. “We settled into the game in the second half, had a nice goal, and looked strong. Unfortunately we were reduced to 10 men, which definitely hurt us, but I thought the team responded extremely well and battled through the rest of the second half and overtime periods.”
The team enters the 2009 season with a slight chip on its shoulder after not qualifying for NCAA postseason play for the first time since 1997 last season. With a strong returning core of veterans, the Ephs are determined to rekindle the tradition of national dominance. “Our goals as a team are first and foremost to win the NESCAC and make a run in the NCAA tournament,” Smith said.Â “The team has had a great mentality so far so we will look to continue to build on that throughout the season.”
Smith will lead the defense along with Joe Vella ’11, while Alex Johnson ’10 will spearhead the midfield and Kelly will lead the attack. “One of our main goals as a team [this season] is to imprint a team style of play and then impose the style on your opponents,” Head Coach Mike Russo added.
The team welcomes NESCAC challenger Conn. College (1-0-0, 1-0-0) this Saturday at 12 p.m. on Cole Field.