A pair of late first-half goals and solid defending during the last 45 minutes propelled men’s soccer (1–0, 1–0 in the NESCAC) to a 2-1 away win over NESCAC rival Trinity on Saturday.
Both teams struggled to maintain possession in the first few minutes. Forward Mark Sisco-Tolomeo ’18 drew an early foul, but Trinity managed the free kick. Energized following two free kicks of their own, the Bantams completed some successful passing sequences, and forward Cody Savonen launched a quick shot that sailed high.
The men responded well as midfielder Malcolm Singleton ’18 sent a ball in to Sisco-Tolomeo, who earned a corner kick after his shot was deflected by a Trinity player. Sisco-Tolomeo had another scoring chance just seconds later, but his shot went above the net.
Although the Bantams briefly threatened on the left wing, defender Scatt Macdonald ’19 remained stalwart and slid in to make the tackle. After about 15 minutes of play, the Ephs continued to improve. They put more pressure on the Bantam defense with several long throw-ins. Forward Eric Hirsch ’19 nearly scored with a diving header off of a corner kick from midfielder Chris Fleischer ’20.
Around the midpoint of the first half, the game settled down. Both teams had smarter positioning and made stronger passes but struggled to finish. Hirsch had an opportunity in the box, forward Demian Gass ’20 fired a shot high and forward/midfielder Eli Petrik ’21 sent one wide to the right after receiving a well-placed through ball. Similarly, Trinity midfielder Nigel Gustave could not keep a long-range shot on target.
Finally, at 33:34, following a beautiful free kick from behind midfield and a scramble in the Trinity box, defender Sean Dory ’19 smashed a rebound into the upper-right corner of the goal to put the men up 1-0.
The Ephs controlled the remainder of the first half and soon doubled their lead. Forward Bobby Fabricant ’20 made a remarkable run then sent a cross toward Petrik, who scored with a perfect volley at 40:01.
The men remained composed and won most 50-50 balls at the beginning of the second half. Sisco-Tolomeo and Hirsch both had early shots, but after about 10 minutes and several substitutions, Trinity began to play with renewed vigor. The Bantams earned a corner kick when Eph goaltender Bobby Schneiderman ’18 punched a shot over the crossbar.
With around 30 minutes remaining, the game became increasingly physical, and both teams had several free kicks and scoring chances. Notably, Schneiderman jumped out to interrupt a cross in a crowded box, and Trinity goalie Mateo Zabala made an excellent save to avoid an own goal after his teammate mishandled a free kick from forward/midfielder Kyle Brady ’20.
Boosted by a tailwind toward the end of the match, Trinity repeatedly pressured the Williams defense and drew several fouls. Eph co-captain Tobias Muellers ’18 made some important clearances but, at 86:04, Bantam defender Henry Belt scored with a low, powerful shot off of a cross from midfielder Max Cottrell, who displayed impressive footwork.
Every Trinity player, including Zabala, pressed downfield during the final few minutes, but the men held on to secure the 2-1 win. Overall, the Ephs outshot the Bantams 19 to nine, and each team committed 14 fouls. Zabala made seven saves for the Bantams, while Schneidermann made two for the Ephs. Sisco-Tolomeo and Savonen tied for a game-high four shots.
“Our squad dealt with some adversity on Saturday and managed to grind out a hard-fought road win,” Head Coach Erin Sullivan ’96 said. “It was a typically combative NESCAC game, and we created some excellent chances. But it’s early, and we have a lot of work to do as our team learns how to control tempo and close out games more effectively.”
Today, the men travel to Troy, N.Y., to face off against RPI at 7:30 p.m.