The Middlebury men’s team stopped a two game slide this weekend with convincing victories over Trinity on Saturday, Oct. 12 and Hamilton on Sunday, Oct. 13 at home during Fall Family Weekend. The crowd full of friends and family witnessed what could be a turning point in the Panthers season.
On Saturday, the Panthers (5-3-1, 4-3-1) outmuscled the Trinity Bantams (7-2-2, 3-2-2) in a 3-1 victory. Coach Dave Saward credited the Panthers’ physicality for the victory.
“Our physical presence was a challenge for Trinity,” Saward said. “The strength of the Trinity team is that they have a very dynamic front six that attack from all angles, thus it was important that we worked hard to deny service from their mid-field up to their strikers.”
The Panthers’ back line played well despite some nagging injuries to Deklan Robinson ’16 and Graham Knisley ’14 in the center. The Bantams only mustered five shots all game, and just three on net. Including Sunday’s game, the Panthers have been outshot only once this season, in the season opening overtime defeat at Amherst.
Middlebury’s first goal started at the back when Robinson fed the ball down the right side to Tom Bean ’17 who quickly led a streaking Adam Glaser ’17 with a nice pass.
“Glaser had a step on the Trinity defender and from such an advantage he rarely relinquishes the lead,” Saward said. “This proved to be the case as he rushed clear of the Bantam back line and calmly chipped the ball over the desperate dive of the goalkeeper.”
Only six minutes later, Robinson claimed some glory of his own. After Trinity failed to clear a corner kick effectively, Harper Williams ’15 played the ball toward the back post where Robinson finished with an emphatic header.
Trinity then got one back at the 38:34 mark, when a long clearance found a sprinting Trinity winger behind the Middlebury back line. Trinity player Fernando Torello slid the ball past keeper Ethan Collins ’14 to equalize within one at halftime.
Not to be outdone, Glaser’s hard work earned him a second goal on the day. Glaser chased down the Trinity defender and caused some confusion between him and the Bantam keeper. Glaser stole the ball, turned and shot in one motion for the goal.
Glaser now leads the team with five goals on the season and 11 points.
“Even though Glaser is a freshman, he is a mature and skilled player on the ball who always seems to be in the right place and can create space between defenders to quickly shoot the ball,” teammate Tyler Bonini ’16 said.
On Sunday, the Panthers looked to sweep the weekend against the visiting Hamilton Continentals (2-5-3, 1-3-3). Middlebury took an early lead in the 12th minute when Sam Peisch ’14.5 cleaned up a rebound off of Noah Goss-Wolliner’s ’15 blocked shot for his first goal of the season.
For the remainder of the first half the Panthers controlled possession, but it did not come easily. Around 15 minutes in, Knisley hit the turf twice while defending Hamilton’s attacks. Moments later, Philip Skayne ’17 leapt for a header and went end over end when a Hamilton player took out his legs. With three minutes remaining in the half, Bonini played a set piece into the box that Bean was nearly able to finish but for some contact, leaving Bean with his hands in the air and staring at the official.
Middlebury had a handful of close scoring chances in the second half. In the 67th minute a long set piece resulted in the ball being redirected and glancing off the outside of the post. The Panthers produced a flurry of attacks in the final 15 minutes of the half. In the 79th minute Williams’ corner was snagged by the leaping Hamilton keeper. Middlebury recovered the ball quickly and mounted a counter attack led by Bonini. Streaking down the right side, Bonini cut back nicely and tried to finish with the left foot but was denied by a diving save.
The Panthers were still not done. Off of a long throw Bean had a decent look at the net, but was unable to get a shot off and the ball was cleared from danger.
Hamilton continued to throw its weight around in the second half, but to no avail. In the 61st minute Collins made an easy catch off of a free kick and took what was clearly a deliberate shoulder from Hamilton’s Buck Reynolds.
Hamilton’s best scoring chance came with 22 minutes remaining in the game. John McGuinnis crossed a beautiful ball Daniel Kraynak, who desperately laid out for the ball. Kraynak beat Collins but went wide of the net.
Middlebury tried to put the game away in the 78th minute. A Hamilton defender took down Robinson outside the 18 resulting in a free kick. Off the set piece, Williams found the back of the net with a header, but was called for a foul, negating the goal.
With just two minutes remaining a shoving match halted play when Hamilton’s keeper slid to take out Glaser as his shot went high over the net. Some Hamilton defenders took offense to Glaser’s aggressive run, enough so that one shoved Glaser to the ground as he tried to get up. Officials put a stop to the confusion, and Middlebury iced the game less than a minute later when Glaser crossed it low to Skayne for the goal.
Saward took some positives from last week’s loss at Tufts and believed that if the team brought the same level of commitment to the weekend they would have success.
“From my perspective, the team did all of that and more,” Saward said. “They were rewarded for their hard work and positive attitude with two very good wins and 6 points. Now we need to sustain our effort for every minute of every game left and we shall see where that takes us. Nothing is guaranteed.”
Middlebury rose to second in the NESCAC over the weekend, though still a distant second to table-setting Amherst. They will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 19 at Bates.