Men’s soccer (3-1-0, 2-0-0 in the NESCAC) received its first loss of the season against Babson in a 1-0 match Sunday at Cole Field. The Ephs, ranked No. 3 nationally in the NSCAA Div. III Coaches poll, had just defeated Trinity in a 3-1 victory on Saturday. The men also defeated Westfield State 4-0 on Sept. 9.
“While [Sunday] was a very difficult loss, it did not take away from the fact that we played some very good soccer over the weekend,” co-captain Luke Pierce ’15 said.
On Sunday, the Ephs put pressure early on the Beavers’ defense, keeping the ball in the Beavers’ end of the field. Williams launched the first seven shots of the game, with Matt Muralles ’15 firing multiple strong balls to challenge Babson’s back line.
The tide turned when the Beavers earned a string of three corner kicks beginning in the 29th minute, putting pressure on the Ephs to defend the Beavers’ set pieces. In the 36th minute, Babson broke through and scored after Justin Laurenzo stole the ball in the box and sailed the ball past Eph goalie Christian Alcorn ’17.
“We played well for the first 15 minutes versus Babson but then seemed to become sluggish as the game wore on,” Head Coach Mike Russo said.
Although the Ephs applied pressure through the end of the first half, the Beavers stepped up at the start of the second half to keep the ball near the Ephs’ goal. But soon afterwards, Williams regained control and continued to try to find a way to add an equalizer. Zach Grady ’15 forced the Beavers’ keeper to make a save in the 65th minute, and Michael Madding ’15 launched a pair of shots just a few minutes later that were disposed of by the Beavers’ defense.
In the 83rd minute, the Ephs had an opportunity to score on an indirect free kick just inside the penalty box. However, the Beavers blocked Grady’s shot to keep their lead and clean sheet alive. David Madding ’18 added one last shot with under two minutes to play, but the kick sailed wide, and the Beavers held on to earn a 1-0 victory over the Ephs.
“I feel we controlled the majority of the game. We moved the ball pretty well throughout the field but had some difficulty in our final passes,” Pierce said. “You have to give Babson credit, as they were very tight defensively.”
On Saturday, Williams faced Trinity in its final home conference game of the month. The Ephs hoped to redeem themselves after last season’s loss in double overtime against the Bantams, which handed the Ephs their first loss of the 2013-14 season.
The men struck first, with Muralles launching a hard shot into the back of the net in the 18th minute. The ball came off an assist from Michael Madding and gave the Ephs an early 1-0 lead.
“We performed very well versus Trinity with some of the best combination play that we have had in a long time,” Russo said.
In response, Trinity intensified its offense, launching a pair of shots that were narrowly blocked by the Williams defense. The Ephs had a chance with just seconds left in the half to extend their lead, but a great save by Bantams goalie Jason Katz prevented forward Mark Sisco-Tolomeo ’18 from scoring.
The Bantams took advantage of a corner kick in the 50th minute, with Riley Cassidy scoring on a header to tie the game at 1-1. The men stepped up their play with the game on the line, creating several scoring opportunities throughout the second half. With just over 15 minutes left to play, Tom Young ‘18 found an open Muralles, who touched the ball into the goal. Only three minutes later, Muralles added an assist to his box score, finding J.C. Bahr-de-Stefano ’17 with a beautifully weighted pass. Bahr-de-Stefano finished neatly to bring the score to 3-1 and seal the victory for the Ephs. The goal was Bahr-de-Stefano’s first of his collegiate career.
“Saturday was a very big win against a team in Trinity that has given us problems over the past several years,” Pierce said. “[Matt] Muralles was phenomenal that game, controlling the midfield and taking part in each of the three goals.”
On Sept. 9, the men dominated Westfield State, earning a 4-0 victory on the shoulders of braces from Sisco-Tolomeo and Grady. Williams dominated the game from start to finish, including three goals in a four-minute span in the second half. Overall, the Ephs outshot the Owls 25 to one and notched ten corners.
Next Saturday, Williams travels to Amherst to face its archrival at 2:30 p.m. at Hitchcock Field. On Tuesday, the men host RPI at 4:15 p.m at Cole Field.
“Amherst is always one of the most highly anticipated matches of the year,” Pierce said. “We will have a very strong, focused week of practice and will look to impose our style of play on the field come Saturday.”