Men’s Soccer Beats Bowdoin, Remains Unbeaten in NESCAC

By Colin McIntyre

The men’s soccer team (4-0-1, 2-0-1) continued their string of shutout victories with a comfortable midweek away victory over Southern Vermont and a home win over Bowdoin on Saturday, Sept. 20. 

On Wednesday, Sept. 17, the Panthers traveled to Bennington, where they were the heavy favorites against the Southern Vermont College Mountaineers of the New England Collegiate Conference, and won 4-0. Middlebury pulled the trigger early and often against Southern Vermont, racking up 20 first-half shots.  The Mountaineer defense turned away several early opportunities, but the Panthers could not be held goalless into halftime. In the 39th minute, Greg Conrad ’17 opened the scoring after he settled a pass up the middle from Andres Rodlauer ’16.  Conrad slotted the ball into the left side of the net for his first goal of the season. 

Middlebury would not score again in the first half, but instead doubled their lead on the other side of halftime.  Conrad was the middleman on a give-and-go with Adam Glaser ’17 in the 52nd minute. He collected the pass and fed it back to a streaking Glaser who finished across the face of goal to put the Panthers up 2-0.  

Nine minutes later, Conrad would score his second goal of the day off an assist from Kirk Horton ’17.  The Panthers’ defense, solid in the opening games of the season, went unchallenged for the vast majority of the game.  The Mountaineers took three shots, with only one on frame, which was turned away by goaltender Greg Sydor ’17.  The Panthers held an insurmountable shot advantage, taking 38, with 17 on target. Sydor was replaced for the first time this season in the 76th minute in favor of Jeremy Yeager ’18. Yeager went unchallenged in goal. 

In the waning minutes of the game, Dan Skayne ’15 had his first goal of the season off of a through ball from Enzo Weiner ’18 to wrap up the scoring. Middlebury left Southern Vermont with a 3-0-1 record after the 4-0 win. 

Middlebury faced much stiffer competition in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Bowdoin.  The Polar Bears maintained possession well early on, and had a great opportunity only 20 seconds in that sailed high.  The Panther defense had their work cut out for them early as the ball was in the defensive half for a majority of the opening 20 minutes.  The play through the Panther midfield was tenuous to begin the game, with Middlebury often  surrendering possession to the Polar Bears, and relying on over-the-top balls to Glaser and Conrad to generate offense. 

Nevertheless, the Panthers did pressure the Polar Bears back line and won a pair of consecutive corners in the 23rd minute. After the first was knocked out by Bowdoin, Noah Goss-Woliner ’15 sent a curling ball in from the right side towards the head of Tom Bean ’17. The tall center defender beat his mark and redirected the ball across the face of the goal to secure his first goal of the season. 

On the last Middlebury set piece goal, Deklan Robinson ’16, another tall threat headed the ball home.  Bean commented on the team’s strategy, “We have a very dangerous team in the air with all of our size, so we try to send our big guys into the box to make things happen on set plays, but that passes a lot of defensive responsibilities to other players. Fortunately everyone has been playing their parts effectively which allows Deklan and I to take those risks comfortably.”

Eight minutes later, Conrad sent a ball through the Bowdoin defense. Polar Bears’ goalkeeper Noah Safian misjudged the timing, and Glaser was able to beat him to the ball and chip it over him from the edge of the penalty area.  The ball had just enough pace to beat a Bowdoin defender’s clearance effort. 

Glaser was quick to praise his fellow striker, saying, “Our success as a front line is because of the chemistry Greg and I are building. Greg’s having a wonderful season so far and his ability to hold the ball up and 

be a playmaker for us has been pivotal in the majority of goals we’ve been scoring.”  

Glaser’s goal, assisted by Conrad, was the fourth such occurence of the season. Glaser now leads the NESCAC in goals outright with five, and Conrad similarly paces the league in assists. 

“We’ve just started playing together and things are going very well,” Glaser said. “The fact we’re both just sophomores should be very scary for the rest of the NESCAC — this is just the beginning of what we’re capable of.”

In fact, Middlebury fielded very few seniors during their game on Saturday. Goss-Woliner was the lone senior to start for the Panthers, and Brandon Robinson ’15 came on briefly in the second half. 

In the second half, Bowdoin tried to get on the board, but the Panther defense held strong, allowing only one shot on goal for the whole game, despite the Polar Bears’ nine total shots. 

The Panthers held possession for extended periods throughout the second half, and controlled the midfield more effectively.  The match became increasingly heated as Bowdoin failed to find the goal through the suffocating Panther defense.  Sydor recorded the win and his fourth-straight clean sheet with one save in goal. 

With this win, Middlebury holds third place in the NESCAC, three points behind leader Amherst.

On Tuesday, Sept. 23 the Panthers returned to action for a midweek matchup with regional foe Colby-Sawyer. Middlebury scored early and often in the match, with Kirk Horton ’17 sandwiching a pair of goals around a tally from Goss Woliner to give the Panthers the victory by a final score of 3-0.

Sydor saved the sole Colby-Sawyer shot on goal for his fifth consecutive shutout.

The Panthers resume NESCAC play on Saturday in Waterville against Colby. The Mules sit at the bottom of the table with a 0-3-0 league record. 

“I think we will start to solidify our style of play and really figure out how to dominate games for the whole 90 minutes,” Bean said. “We just look at each game as a time to improve and play the best soccer our group of guys can play.”