Ephs trump Cardinals, tie Polar Bears

October 19, 2016 by Mandela Namaste, Staff Writer

Men’s soccer (7–2–3, 4–2–1 in the NESCAC) forced two NESCAC opponents into overtime this week, ultimately defeating Wesleyan on Saturday 2–1 and tying Bowdoin 1–1 on Sunday.

“It was a solid weekend overall,” Head Coach Erin Sullivan said. “We earned four important points from two hard-fought NESCAC matches and won our first overtime game of the season against Little Three rival Wesleyan. These results not only position us higher in the league, but they also put us in striking distance for our loftier goals.”

The energy and effort levels during Sunday’s game against Bowdoin were high from the outset, and both teams fought for possession throughout the first half. One of the Polar Bears’ close opportunities came in the 26th minute, when Moctar Niang headed the ball right into Christian Alcorn ’17, who trapped the ball between his body and the post, inches from the goal line.  This save garnered a huge roar from the crowd and gave the Ephs momentum, but the men did not create actionable openings for the remainder of the half. The squads entered half time deadlocked at zero.

Both teams ratcheted up the intensity in the second half. However, in the 54th minute, a free kick from Bowdoin’s Matty McCall landed on the foot of Ethan Ellsworth, who tapped it past Alcorn to break the deadlock and give Bowdoin a 1–0 lead.

Not to be deterred, Williams pressed on, and was rewarded in the 74th minute, when Mohammed Rashid ’17 took a corner and booted it right to Mark Sisco-Tolomeo ’18, who headed it past Bowdoin goalie Noah Safian to tie the match at one apiece. As neither team scored again, the match moved into overtime.

A 98th minute rocket from Greg Andreou ’19 that went high and left represented the best chance that either team had to score in the overtime period, and both teams came away with a single point for the tie.

On Saturday, the men played Wesleyan and Malcolm Moutenot ’17 slotted home a ball in extra time to give the Ephs a 2–1 victory, their first victory in almost three weeks.

Wesleyan started strong in the first half and also demonstrated a strong defensive presence early in the eighth minute, blocking a pinpoint pass from Moutenot to Rashid near the net and blocking shots from Moutenot and Malcolm Singleton ’18 to preserve the scoreless tie. While the score didn’t suggest it, both sides showcased solid offensive creativity and had many chances.

The offensive surges from both squads continued immediately in the second half. Finally, in the 60th minute, Williams broke the tie. Rashid took a free kick, the ball bounced twice, then defender Brandon Dory ’17 put it past the Wesleyan keeper. However, Williams’ lead would not last. A Williams foul in the 65th minute led to a penalty kick for Wesleyan, and Charlie Gruner slotted the ball into the bottom right corner past a diving Alcorn to tie the match leading into the last 20 minutes.

However, after this five-minute stretch of offensive success, the defenses regained control and held steady until overtime. Twice — once with under two minutes to ago and again with about 30 seconds left — Hirsch found himself in a position to give Williams the lead, but each time, he headed it just left, and the clock expired with the score tied at one, and that the match headed into overtime.

Overtime didn’t even last a full 10 minutes. Williams had gotten many chances in regulation, but Wesleyan’s defense had stood strong. However, this momentum would finally shift the Ephs’ direction for good. In the 96th minute, Moutenot finished off the match with a thunderous boot in front of the net.

This game marked the Ephs’ last home game of the season.

“We’ve enjoyed tremendous leadership from our stellar senior class and they’ve set a positive tone all season,” Coach Sullivan said. “There were many fitting tributes this past weekend recognizing their many individual and collective achievements. Our coaching staff commends them on their commitment, discipline, and selflessness in strengthening our team culture and we look forward to continuing our work together as we prepare to attack the exciting opportunities down the stretch.”

Williams will travel to play Wesleyan today at 3:00 p.m.

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