Men’s soccer draws even with Amherst, 1-1

Men’s soccer (5-0-2, 2-0-2 in the NESCAC) battled into overtime for a nail-biting finish against archrival Amherst last Saturday but ended the match tied 1-1. Williams is first in the NSCAA New England rankings, while Amherst is ranked second.

“Traditionally, the Amherst-Williams soccer match is an extremely competitive game and this one was no exception,” Head Coach Mike Russo said.

Amherst’s Ian Rothkopf clinched his team’s first goal at the 29:01 mark after Thebe Tsatsimpe was able to play the ball down the right flank to James Mooney, who in turn set Rothkopf off for the goal. The first half of the first period largely belonged to the Jeffs, who battled relentlessly up the field, culminating in their notching the first goal of the game.

The Ephs did not take long to regain control of the ball following the Jeffs’ goal, and shortly after they followed up with one of their own. Peter Christman ’13 received the ball on the right wing and found Patrick Ebobisse ’13 at the top of the 18-yard box. Ebobisse evaded the Jeff defender for a 22-yard bender shot that Amherst goalkeeper Lennard Kovacs was unable to stop.

Hardly 40 minutes into the match, Williams and Amherst were tied at 1-1, but Ebobisse’s goal was the last either team would score on the day. Though both the Ephs and the Jeffs found opportunities for taking the lead in the second period, neither was able to capitalize and play through for a goal. As the last seconds of the clock ticked away, the teams headed into overtime.

“Amherst is a very strong team with a veteran defense so they are hard to break down,” Russo said. “We did not have much success in the first half with the exception of our goal. I thought in the second half we did get behind them but were not accurate in our final passes into their penalty box.”

Both overtime periods found play mostly confined to the midfield with a handful of near-successful plays. Two minutes into overtime, Charlie Romero ’11 was able to attempt a shot on Amherst’s goal, though it flew just high of the net. Shortly thereafter, the Jeffs responded with an attempt of their own, but goalkeeper Peter Morrell ’14 tipped the ball out of play for the most important save of the game.

“[Morrell’s] save was big, as that obviously would have won the match for them,” Russo said. “Both he and the Amherst goalkeeper Kovacs were good on the day. [Romero] and Dan Lima ’14 both got in on Kovacs one-on-one but were unable to put the ball past him.”

Despite the exciting offensive attempts both teams made in overtime, neither was able to capitalize, and the final buzzer confirmed the result as a draw. Though the Jeffs got on the board first, the Ephs outshot their rivals 14-10 on the day.

Looking to continue its undefeated NESCAC season, Williams will travel to Bates this weekend. Play will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday. The men’s weekend will continue with a 1:30 p.m. game at Trinity on Sunday.