Undefeated streak propels Ephs to 6th in Div. III

Prior to a standout game versus RPI, Patrick Ebobisse ’13 had an assist in the men’s first goal against Colby on Saturday. SUSMITA PAUL/CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER.

No. 6 men’s soccer (11-0-2, 7-0-2 in the NESCAC) stunned its opponents once again with victories against RPI on Sunday and Colby on Saturday. Continuing their 13-game unbeaten streak, the men secured a 1-0 victory over RPI after thrashing Colby 4-0.

Playing on their home turf against RPI, the men took control of the game early on and used offensive possessions to their advantage. Only three minutes into the first half, Luke Pierce ’15 scored the only goal of the game. Seeing an opportunity after Zach Grady ’15 brought the ball into play through a corner kick, Pierce swiftly took the ball and rolled it into the net, lifting the Ephs up to a 1-0 lead at 3:01.

Co-captain Peter Christman ’13 was impressed with Pierce’s play. “He took a nice first touch off of a corner kick from Grady and beautifully finished with his left foot into the far panel,” he said.

The men nearly doubled their lead a minute later when Grady moved the ball to rookie Jonathan Westling ’16 near the goal. However, Westling fell just short of the ball and was unable to put it in the net.

Nevertheless, the Ephs maintained a strong defense to ensure that their opponents did not level the score. Goalkeeper Peter Morrell ’14 posted an impressive performance at net, notching three saves in the first half. Despite the Engineers possessing the ball for much of the first half, the Ephs managed to hold them down, keeping the score at 1-0 at the end of the first period.

The second half saw the men dominate on offense. Forcing the Engineers on the defensive, the Ephs took possession of the ball early on in the period and attempted to improve their score. But the RPI defense kept pace, preventing the men from making any changes to the scoreboard. RPI also made several drives at goal, but none made it through to Morrell due to the impressive efforts of the backline. Ultimately, the half concluded with no additional goals, leaving the Ephs with a 1-0 victory.

The win over RPI came after the men trounced Colby in Maine on Saturday. After a slow start, the Ephs picked up the momentum around the 12-minute mark. At 29:20, Patrick Ebobisse ’13 secured the ball and passed it to a waiting Grady. Grady then ripped the ball past the Colby netminder, putting Williams in the lead at 1-0. Colby fiercely retaliated by launching its own offensive, but goalkeeper Than Finan ’13 was prepared for the effort and kept the Mules at bay for the rest of the half, closing the first 45 minutes with a 1-0 lead for the Ephs.

“Down 1-0, Colby was forced to shift a defender into midfield and play a more offensive game since they had nothing to lose at that point,” Christman said. “We were able to possess fairly well in the attacking third and play balls through their three-man back line. Goals were inevitable. That said, Than Finan was outstanding in net as he has been all season. He came up big with a number of stone-cold saves to preserve the shutout.”

The second half tested Colby’s defenses, and a maneuver by Christman proved to be too much for the Mules to handle. Off an assist from Matt Muralles ’15, Christman put the ball through the net at 55:15, doubling the Ephs’ lead to 2-0. A few minutes later, Williams repeated its success when Grady assisted Westling in the rookie’s first goal of the season, lifting Williams to a 3-0 lead at 58:40. Finally, the men scored the final goal of the game at 85:05 when rookie Troy Ritter ’16 scored his first goal of the season off an assist from Chris Seitz ’15. The Ephs guarded their 4-0 lead for the remainder of play to notch another victory.

The men host their regular season finale against Middlebury at 2 p.m. today. “First and foremost, we cannot underestimate Middlebury,” Christman said. “If we’re going to beat Middlebury, we need to keep possession, come out sharp from the opening whistle and finish chances.”

Following this week of play and the solidification of the NESCAC standings, the men will face off against one of their NESCAC foes at noon on Saturday. The remainder of the tournament will take place on Nov. 3-4 at the highest remaining seed’s home field. The men are currently tied with Amherst for first in the conference heading into their final game of the regular season.