Men’s soccer sweeps weekend

msoc
Alex Johnson ’10 passes the ball on Sept. 19. Johnson held down the Ephs’ midfield this weekend.

Men’s soccer (5-0-1, 2-0-1 in the NESCAC) had a triumphant weekend away from Cole Field, winning both in and out of conference matches against NESCAC rival Colby (1-3-1, 0-4-0) and the Babson Beavers (6-3-0). The Ephs more than doubled the number of shots on goal (44) that they allowed their opponents combined (21).

On Saturday, the Ephs began their offensive onslaught in the 13th minute, when captain Conor Smith ’10 finished a corner from Gaston Kelly ’11, heading the ball past Mules’ keeper Doug Sibor. Peter Houston ’10 then netted a second goal off a pass from Daniel Morrisroe ’12, breaking through the Mules’ defense to extend lead to 2-0 at the half.

The second half began with a flurry of offensive activity for the Ephs, as they put away three goals in four minutes to establish a five-goal lead over the Mules. Nick Pugliese ’12, Pierre Meloty-Kapella ’10 and Smith (off another corner by Kelly) scored the three quick goals. The goal scoring was capped off in the 72nd minute of regulation when Dave Reison ’12 connected with a Colin Ainsworth ’12 corner to bring the teams’ total to six. The 6-0 score was a testament to the Ephs’ impressive finishing for the day, as Williams hit the back of the net on nearly a third of its 19 shots.

Head Coach Mike Russo commended his team’s effort. “We had [a very good performance] as we finished off chances vs Colby with Conor Smith being very impressive, scoring two goals off corner kick service from Gaston Kelly. It was a total team performance in that match.”

The following day, the Ephs traveled to Babson Park to take on the Beavers in a non-conference game. Will Whiston ’10 found the net for his second goal of the season in the 15th minute when he flicked a Kelly corner into the upper right corner of the net past Beavers keeper Cole Davison. A minute later, after a Beavers’ foul outside the box, the Ephs notched what would be the game-winning goal when Meloty-Kapella bent a shot around the Beavers’ wall.

“In the first half, we were very good, creating several excellent chances while finishing two,” Smith said. “[However, in] the second half we … let Babson get back into the game [but] we did show some character in holding them off.”

Unlike previous wins, the Ephs went scoreless in the second half but fiercely held onto their lead by fending off an aggressive offensive push by the Beavers. Babson was able to infiltrate Williams’ back line for the first time of the weekend, and Billy Nickerson fed teammate Ayo Iwuagwu a crisp thru ball that he slid past keeper Andrew Lyons-Berg ’11 in the 53rd minute to shrink the Ephs lead. The Beavers offensive threat had not passed, as a series of solid efforts saw shots fly over the crossbar and skim the posts to nearly tie the game for the Beavers. However, the Ephs’ defense controlled the Beaver bombardment and emerged from the match triumphant, preserving their unbeaten record and winning 2-1.

The Ephs were particularly impressive on corners this weekend, tallying four of their eight goals off the set piece. “Overall …. the weekend was a strong showing from our team and we are now focusing on Amherst this Saturday,” said Smith.

The Ephs hope that their stellar offense and strong defense will continue this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against the Jeffs in Amherst, Mass.