Men’s soccer (3-2-0, 2-1-0 in the NESCAC) faced its toughest challenge of the season so far on Saturday, as they travelled to Hitchcock Field to face Amherst (4-0-1, 3-0-1). The Ephs, who dropped from No. 3 to No. 25 in the NSCAA Div. III Coaches’ Poll last week, fell 4-1 to the No. 13 Lord Jeffs.
“We had our chances, but unfortunately we didn’t take them and they were able to get that all-important goal to make it 3-1,” co-captain Andrés Burbank-Crump ’15 said.
Williams was the first to get a shot off, testing the Amherst defense in the fourth minute with a great scoring chance by Malcolm Moutenot ’17 that sailed over the net. The Ephs continued to create opportunities to score, culminating with a pair of off-target shots by Matt Muralles ’15.
In the 16th minute, Amherst pressed the Williams defense with a single attacker charging up the field. Although the Ephs had several defenders back, Lord Jeffs’ Christopher Martin gained momentum and found an opening. Martin gently slid a shot past Williams’s goalie Christian Alcorn ’17 and just like that Amherst took a 1-0 lead.
The Lord Jeffs kept the pressure on the Ephs, putting together a string of shots that kept them on their toes. Williams nearly equalized the game after Alcorn netted his first save in the 26th minute, launching a ball deep toward the Amherst goal. Brandon Dory ’17 launched a shot on goal, but the Amherst keeper was there for the save.
It was just three minutes later that Amherst netted its second goal of the match. The play started almost exactly like the previous score, with the Lord Jeffs splitting the Ephs’ defense before finding Nico Pascual-Leone ’16 in space. Pascual-Leone then booted a low ball to the left of the goal, just avoiding the diving Alcorn to put Amherst up 2-0.
“It was obviously a very difficult game for us. They were clinical in front of goal and punished us for our mistakes,” Burbank-Crump said.
Just as the Lord Jeffs gained momentum, the Ephs earned a free kick just outside of the penalty box. Burbank-Crump took the shot, sending a low ball towards the Lord Jeff defense. The ball took a lucky bounce off the shin of a defender before trickling off the post and into the net for a score with seven minutes left in the half. Neither team added to their goal tally before halftime, which meant the Ephs trailed 2-1 heading into the second half.
“Going into the second half, we knew whoever scored the next goal would carry the momentum for the rest of the game,” Burbank-Crump said.
Both teams came out energized in the second half, trading possessions and putting chances on goal together. Williams nearly netted an equalizer in the 67th minute when Moutenot found Muralles open in front of the goal, but Muralles sailed his shot just high. Just seconds later, Amherst moved the ball down the field and launched a pass to Pascual-Leone, who launched a hard shot into the back of the net to give Amherst a 3-1 lead.
The Ephs tried to recover after the broken play, but just three minutes later, the Lord Jeffs sent another long ball into the Ephs’ penalty box. The Lord Jeffs won the header, and put the ball in the goal for the fourth time, putting the game essentially out of reach for the Ephs.
“Their fourth [goal], coming within minutes of the third, really took the wind out of our sails,” Burbank-Crump said.
With the score 4-1, Williams put in first-year Bobby Schneiderman ’18 at goal, who earned his first career save just a few minutes later. Zach Grady ’15 had a late shot on goal with five minutes left, but it was not enough to narrow the gap before the final whistle blew.
The men faced No. 14 RPI at home on Tuesday, but results came in too late to report. On Saturday, Williams will travel to New London, Conn. to face conference foe Connecticut College (3-2-0, 1-2-0).