Last Saturday, men’s soccer (8-3, 5-3 in the NESCAC) hosted Tufts in an important NESCAC match. Both teams came into the game with 4-3 records in conference play, giving the match important implications for postseason seeding. The men ultimately prevailed over Tufts 2-1. The Ephs were looking to rebound from a 1-0 loss on the road at Bowdoin on Oct. 13, following a 2-0 win at Wesleyan on Oct. 12.
Williams created its first chance against Tufts just seven minutes into the game, as Mohammed Rashid ’16 passed the ball from midfield to Nathan Miller ’15. Miller laid the ball off for the onrushing Matt Muralles ’15 at the top of the penalty box. However, Muralles’ shot only stung the gloves of Tufts’ goalkeeper. The Ephs continued to mount pressure, but they could not completely break down the Jumbos’ defense.
After weathering the early storm from the Ephs, the Jumbos began to create chances of their own. In the 24th minute, the Jumbos appeared to be through on goal, but center back Luke Pierce ’15 smartly boxed out Jumbo forward Connor Brown, drawing a foul. Williams created its own chance six minutes later, but the shot from forward User Kushaina ’14 from close range failed to beat the Jumbo keeper.
The first goal of the game went to Tufts just before the stroke of halftime in the 43rd minute. The Ephs’ defense blocked the first two shots, but the ball fell to Jumbo Jason Kayne at the top of the box. He fired a shot to the upper right hand corner that co-captain Peter Morrell ’14 could only get his fingertips to, as the Ephs found themselves trailing 1-0 for the second straight game.
In this game, though, things were a little different, as the motivated Ephs started the second half sharply. It only took seven minutes for the Ephs to equalize. The counterattack originated from a Jumbo corner kick, as Muralles received a clearance from the Eph defense around midfield. Muralles then chipped a pass to forward Matt Kastner ’14 who headed the ball back to Muralles. Muralles played a through ball to Rashid down the right flank. Rashid sent a cross right in front of the goal that was met by Kastner. The Jumbo goalkeeper blocked the initial shot, but the rebound fell to Kastner, who slotted it into the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Jumbos were undeterred and slowly began to work their way back into the game. In the 62nd minute, they should have tied the game, as Brown spun away from the Ephs’ defense and was through on goal. However, the on-rushing Morrell made the save of the game, keeping the score tied.
Around the 75th minute, Head Coach Mike Russo reinserted the starters and the Ephs began to take control of the game. In the 81st minute, the men finally found another breakthrough. Miller beautifully curved a lofted through ball behind the Jumbo defense from the left side of the midfield. Kastner took the pass down with his chest and was one-on-one with the Jumbo keeper. Kastner took another touch around the goalie, who proceeded to take down Kastner and miss the ball in the process. The referee jogged down to the Jumbo penalty box, pointed to the penalty spot and pulled out a red card for the Tufts keeper. Muralles stepped up to the spot and sent the new Jumbo keeper the wrong way, giving the Ephs the lasting 2-1 advantage.
“We showed a lot of character because Tufts is a good team, one of the more skilled teams we’ve played,” said Russo. “At halftime we did kind of prompt the boys to put a little more effort in. Then we came out and scored a beautiful first goal. In the second half, we controlled more of the game, and late in the game, Miller played a great ball in behind the defense and the keeper took on Muralles, who converted. We were ecstatic that we got that result.”
On Oct. 13, the men lost to Bowdoin 1-0. The lone goal of the game came in the middle of the first half after a shot ricocheted off the post straight toward the head of a Bowdoin player, who netted the goal for a 1-0 Bowdoin win.
The day before on Oct. 12, the men earned a victory at Wesleyan. Kushaina tallied the first goal at the 40-minute mark, assisted by Malcolm Moutenot ’17. Moutenot assisted on the second goal of the game as well, as Rashid beat the keeper on a breakaway to put the Ephs up 2-0.
Williams will travel to RPI on Wednesday for a game at 7:30 p.m. and then return home to face Bates on Saturday at 1 p.m.