Looking to build on its trip to the NCAA Div. III Final Four last season, men’s soccer (1-0, 1-0 in the NESCAC) started the season off strong with a 1-0 win at Colby on Saturday, courtesy of a goal from rookie Patrick Gordon ’17 in the 65th minute.
The first 35 minutes were up-and-down as both teams created a few chances but struggled to maintain control of the game. The Ephs faced a hairy moment early on when Chris Conder ’15 made a goal-saving block, stopping a shot just inside the Ephs’ box. It was not until the end of the first half that the men’s midfield began to assert itself, lead by Matt Muralles ’15. Muralles, playing in the center of the midfield, led Williams with six shots in the game. Despite 13 shots for the men in the first half, the teams went to the locker room tied with no score at the half.
After the half, the Ephs netted the winning goal before surviving a scare from the Mules just minutes after. Twenty minutes in Gordon, in his NESCAC debut, picked up a loose ball at the top of the 18-yard box and ripped a low firecracker of a shot into the corner of the goal past the Colby keeper, giving the men a 1-0 lead in the 65th minute.
Colby, however, would not be deterred and almost equalized a minute after the men opened the scoring. The Mules were awarded a direct free kick just outside the box, and the rebound created chaos in the box. The ball eventually fell to a Colby player who had a clear shot at goal. Nathan Miller ’15 made a last-ditch block that saved the potential tying goal, allowing the Ephs to preserve their narrow 1-0 lead.
Colby proceeded to heap on the pressure and continued to pepper the Williams net, but Morrell stayed resolute, making seven stops en route to a shutout, proving that he has the skill and talent to replace All-American goalkeeper Than Finan ’13, who graduated last year.
“Colby is well organized and difficult to break down, but our guys were persistent, played with intensity, and got a great goal from first-year Patrick Gordon,” Head Coach Mike Russo said. “Peter Morrell made a couple of clutch saves at the end of the match and Dan Lima [’14], Luke Pierce [’15] and the rest of the backline played well, along with very good playmaking by Matt Muralles.”
The Ephs tallied seven more shots in the second half, outshooting the Mules 20 to 13. Both Williams and Colby earned one yellow card apiece and garnered nine and 10 fouls, respectively. The men also took 10 corner kicks to Colby’s three.
Men’s soccer added seven rookies to its roster this season: T.L. Guest ’17, Malcolm Moutenot ’17, Kevin Mercadante ’17, Brandon Dory ’17, JC Bahr-de Stefano ’17, Christian Alcorn ’17 and Gordon. The Ephs graduated four seniors at the end of last season including Matt Ratajczak ’13, Peter Christman ’13, Patrick Ebobisse ’13 and Finan.
After an season-opening win, the men look to their home opener for another. Williams has their first home game on Wednesday, hosting Westfield State at 4:30 p.m. at Cole Field.