Starting off its season strong, men’s soccer (4-0-0, 3-0-0 in the NESCAC) swiftly dispatched Trinity 3-1 on Saturday. Having already trounced Hamilton 2-1 on Sept. 11, Bates 2-0 on Sept. 8 and Westfield State 2-1 on Sept. 5, the men continued their dominant streak by scoring on Trinity early on Saturday and never falling behind.
The men quickly jumped ahead of host Trinity when co-captain Matt Ratajczak ’13 scored the first goal of the game just 1:29 after the whistle off an assist from Mohammed Rashid ’16. However, just a few minutes later, the Bantams tied up the score at 1-1 at 4:03. The Bantams strived to widen their lead with two attempts over the next five minutes, but were unable to surpass the superior goalkeeping by Than Finan ’13, who refused to let Trinity break through his defenses again. The men also made attempts on the goal but were stopped short by the Trinity goalkeeper. A second attempt by midfielder Matt Muralles ’15 went wide, but on his third attempt, Muralles converted with an assist from co-captain Peter Christman ’13. His score increased the men’s lead to 2-1 at 19:42. With over 20 minutes remaining in the first half, the Ephs maintained their momentum, steadfastly preventing the Bantams from scoring. Having already displayed their superior offensive prowess, the men showed strong defense skills and carried their 2-1 lead into halftime.
Controlling the ball at the beginning of the second half, Trinity made several attempts at the goal, all of which were saved by Finan. The Bantams took advantage of their corner kicks, aiming to even up the score. However, the Ephs did not relent. Although Trinity dominated the half offensively, the men made their possessions count, with Rashid taking control of the ball and single-handedly driving it into the opponents’ net at 82:03. The men continued to hold on to the ball for the closing stages of the game, attempting to score twice and not allowing Trinity to gain any advantage. Despite strong efforts by the Bantams, the Ephs closed the game out in a 3-1 victory.
Christman was pleased with the men’s performance Saturday and thinks it bodes well for the weeks ahead. “The Trinity game was a turning point of our season because they are the team that knocked us out last year,” Christman said.
“So everyone knew that the game against Trinity would be a huge one and was very focused.”
This victory comes at the tail of a string of wins over the last two weeks. On Sept. 11, Williams played a difficult game against Hamilton, who took control of the ball very early and forced the game into double overtime. Countering Hamilton’s early goal at 2:18, Williams evened the score when Muralles, with help from User Kushaina ’14, fired a shot that brought the score up to 1-1 at 14:36. The next 75 minutes saw a volley for control between the Ephs and Continentals, forcing the game into overtime. While dominated by several Williams possessions, the first overtime ultimately resulted in no change in score. In the second overtime, however, the Ephs’ determination paid off: Kushaina brought about the end of the game with a goal at 105:35, securing a 2-1 triumph for Williams.
Days before that, the men had a similar victory over Bates. On Sept. 8, the men braved the inclement weather in their first home game of the season. Starting off evenly matched, the two teams alternated control of the ball. Finally, Matt Kastner ’14 managed to score at 42:47, giving Williams a 1-0 lead that the team maintained well into the second half. The second half saw a strong Eph offensive, with the men controlling the ball for the majority of the game. Michael Madding ’15 gave the men the advantage, driving the ball in the net at 60:40 with an assist by Rashid. The Ephs maintained this lead for the rest of the game, demolishing the Bobcats 2-0.
The men’s win streak played off the momentum from their first game on Sept. 5, in which they overpowered Westfield State 2-1.
Christman thinks the men have a good shot to keep their streak alive next weekend. “It’s just a matter of maintaining the intensity,” he added. “We can go pretty far with this team. Even though we have a young team, we have a lot of experience. Everyone’s really excited about the next game and we’re just having fun playing soccer.”
The men will host Wesleyan on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and Conn. College at noon on Sunday.