Men’s soccer (11-1-1, 6-1-1 in the NESCAC) had a triumphant outing last Saturday against the Tufts Jumbos (2-9-2, 0-7-1 NESCAC) with a dramatic comeback victory. The Ephs, now No. 14 nationally by theÂ NSCAA, battled the torrential rain and an early one-goal deficit to bring their unbeaten streak to four consecutive games. All six seniors acted as captains for the game as the contest marked the last regular season home game for the Ephs.
Because captain Conor Smith ’10 was out due to injury, freshman Patrick Eboisse ’13 started his first game of the season. Eboisse and the rest of the Eph defense played extremely well despite missing Smith’s leadership, strength and composure.
The sheeting rain made ball handling incredibly difficult for both teams, but the Jumbos were able to use it to their advantage. During the19th minute of the first half, Tufts’ Kevin Maxham ’13 notched his first collegiate goal off a rain-induced bobble by Eph keeper Than Finan ’13. After the goal, Finan remained largely untested for the rest of the half as the defense stepped up. However, the offense could not convert, and despite dominating the Jumbos in almost all categories, the Ephs entered the break on the losing side of a 1-0 score.
The second half began with much of the same: The Ephs dominated play in terms of shots (14-0), corners (6-0) and possession, but failed to capitalize in the wet conditions. Finally in the 65th minute, the Ephs knotted the score. The prolific pair of Gaston Kelly ’11 and Pierre Meloty-Kapella ’10, who have scored a combined 12 goals and added 13 assists this season, connected in the 65th minute when Kelly hustled to a loose ball deep in the Jumbos defensive third and bent a perfect ball back to Meloty-Kapella, who volleyed it home for the score.
The offense struck again a mere 47 seconds later, when Colin Ainsworth ’11 delivered a crisp pass to Charlie Romero ’11, who beat Jumbos keeper Pat Tonally for his team-leading ninth goal of the season. Tonally managed 10 saves on the day and played a large role in stemming the tide of the Ephs’ attack but was beaten once more by Nick Pugliese ’10 six minutes later. Romero split the defense with a quick heel pass to Pugliese off a ball from Eboisse, and Pugliese drilled a shot past Tonally on the near post to cap off the scoring at 3-1.
“Although we dominated the play all game, they scored early on a fluke goal,” said Smith. “Finally in the second half we found the back of the net. The first goal is usually the toughest so once we scored the game opened up for us, and we were able to get two more goals soon after.”
The Ephs will face the Middlebury Panthers (7-4-2, 3-3-2) on the road for their final regular season game on Friday at 2 p.m. The team will then enter the NESCAC playoffs with a home match on Sunday.
Williams’ impending match against Middlebury is of utmost importance â€“ a victory, in tandem with a Wesleyan loss, would put the Ephs in first place of the NESCAC entering post-season play.
“The team is really excited for the game this weekend,” said Smith. “ [Middlebury] has gotten our number the past few years. Also, if we get a good result against them, we could potentially host the NESCAC tournament here at Williams, so we have a lot of motivation to work hard this week to prepare for this weekend.”