Men’s soccer continues undefeated streak

Men’s soccer (9-0-2, 6-0-2 in the NESCAC) sustained its impressive undefeated streak last weekend with a 2-0 victory over Babson at home on Sunday. The win came after two victories over the course of a week: The men dispatched Tufts 1-0 on Saturday and secured a 3-2 win over Bowdoin on Oct. 7. On Oct. 6, the men played rival Amherst to a 0-0 tie.

The opening moments of the Babson game saw a heated exchange for control, as both teams took turns possessing the ball. Zach Grady ’15 set the pace for the Ephs with a powerful offensive effort. The sophomore, who was making his first start of the season, drove for the goal three times within the first 15 minutes. The Ephs maintained control over the ball for the majority of the opening minutes and gained an advantage in corner kicks. Despite their best attempts, solid goalkeeping by the Beavers impeded the Ephs’ efforts. The men witnessed a close call when a Babson player charged the ball past goaltender Pete Morrell ’14 and appeared to have scored the first goal of the game. However, an offside call nullified the score and held the tally at 0-0, which held through the end of the first half.

The second period of the game began much like the first, with both sides volleying for the lead and neither able to steal an advantage. This back-and-forth struggle persisted for much of the second period. With 15 minutes left in regulation, the tide turned in the Ephs’ favor. A corner kick by Andres Burbank-Crump ’15 set up the scoring situation perfectly, as the Babson goalkeeper punched the ball away from the goal and towards a prepared Grady. Grady slid the ball to Matt Muralles ’15, who sent it soaring past the Babson goalkeeper and into the net to put the men up 1-0 at 75:08. Williams’ momentum continued when, at 78:04, a ball intended for Mohammed Rashid ’16 was intercepted by a Babson player, who inadvertently put the ball into his own net; the own goal pushed the Ephs’ lead to 2-0. Despite the opponent’s attempts to catch up in the final minutes of the game, the standoff concluded with a 2-0 Williams victory.

The non-conference game against Babson came after a particularly tough showdown against Tufts at home on Saturday. Playing for the opportunity to host a conference playoff game, the Ephs felt the pressure during the first half of the game. The men allowed the Jumbos to control much of the first half and nearly gave their opponents the lead. However, superb goalkeeping by Than Finan ’13 helped Williams maintain a balance in score until the men managed to take the lead. The Ephs’ moment came in the second half, when co-captain Peter Christman ’13, assisted by Grady, blasted the ball into the net at 64:59. The goal, which was Christman’s first of the season, gave the Ephs a 1-0 lead that the Jumbos could not recover from.

“We’re very delighted with two wins against two excellent teams,” Head Coach Mike Russo said. “Tufts is very much improved from years past. In the first half, I thought they outplayed us, but we came back in the second half and outplayed them where Peter [Christman] scored with a brilliant strike.”

On Oct. 7, the men traveled to Maine, where they were met with a challenge from Bowdoin. A slow Williams start resulted in Bowdoin scoring the first goal of the game, ending a five-game shutout streak for the men. Nevertheless, the Ephs picked up their game and equalized the score at 29:29 with a goal by User Kushaina ’14. Kushaina’s goal, his third of the season, put the game at a 1-1 tie by halftime. Shortly after halftime, a header by Matt Kastner ’14 found its way into the back of the net, allowing the Ephs to take a 2-1 advantage over the Polar Bears at 49:21. Not permitting Williams to maintain the lead, Bowdoin secured an overtime confrontation by evening up the score once again with 15 minutes left in regulation. Once in overtime, the teams volleyed for the game until Chris Seitz ’15 scored his first goal of the season at 106:53, lifting Williams to a 3-2 win.

The victory followed a much-anticipated match against rival Amherst on Oct. 6, which resulted in a 0-0 score after 110-minute battle for control.

The men will next play at Colby on Saturday at 11 a.m. On Sunday, Williams will host RPI at 1:30 p.m.