Double-Overtime Match Ends in Tie for Men’s Soccer

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Double-Overtime Match Ends in Tie for Men’s Soccer

By Colin McIntyre

The men’s soccer team continued their NESCAC schedule with a pair of double-overtime games this week, falling to Williams on Wednesday, Oct. 1 and tying Tufts on Saturday, Oct. 4.

On Wednesday, Middlebury travelled to Williamstown to play Williams. The Ephs started the season nationally ranked, but have since fallen to the middle of the pack in the NESCAC. Middlebury took the lead early only to lose it down the stretch, with a Williams game winner coming in the second overtime.

Middlebury took advantage of an early Williams slip up to jump on top early. A wayward clearance in the Ephs penalty box bounced around and hit a Williams arm to give Middlebury an early penalty kick. Noah Goss-Woliner ’15 converted the spot kick in the seventh minute by forcing a strong kick past the Williams keeper, who guessed correctly on the shot but nonetheless came up empty.

In the following minutes, Williams had two scoring chances, one of which was negated by a handball, and a dangerous cross that drifted out for a goal kick. However, the Ephs would break through in the 34th minute when they fired a hard header off a corner kick. Panther keeper Greg Sydor ’17 was up to the task, and pushed the ball away with a diving save. He however couldn’t regain his feet before Williams forced home the rebound.

The game continued through the second half in a dead heat, with both teams recording shots on goal, including a Goss-Woliner shot denied with 10 minutes left. Sydor recorded seven saves on the day, tying a season high.

In the overtime periods, Middlebury did not record a shot, and early in the second overtime, Williams’ Zach Grady sent the Panthers home with their second consecutive loss.

Despite the result, Coach Dave Saward noted the improvement over last week’s loss to Colby.

“We played quite well at Williams, and they’re a good team,” Saward said. “[Williams Coach Mike Russo] has got some very good players, and we competed fine, and we couldn’t find a way to win that game.”

On Saturday, Oct. 4, Middlebury played host to Tufts. The Jumbos were lead by coach Josh Shapiro ’97 who played for the Panthers for four years.

The rain came down throughout the entire game Saturday, as Middlebury and Tufts battled to a scoreless draw over 110 minutes. Middlebury’s starting lineup had a few changes from the beginning of the season, and the players managed to dominate possession early in the first half.

Saward commented on the changes he made after the Colby loss, perhaps leading to the consistent quality coming out of the midfield.

“We’ve changed a couple of players in the middle of the field, Luis Echeverria [’17] played very well on Wednesday and gave us a little more connection… Luis and Noah [Goss-Woliner] played extremely well, and we put Kirk Horton [’17] in at left back and he did really well. We feel like were in good shape, and if our two up front can connect: they’re dangerous.”

Unfortunately for Middlebury, the team was unable to generate any goals, putting up only six shots to Tufts’ 14. Despite the low numbers, Middlebury threatened consistently throughout the game and controlled the ball effectively, but were unable to convert any of their set pieces, one of the big producers of goals in recent games.

Greg Conrad ’17 had one of the better opportunities for the Panthers, when he put a soft ball past the charging Jumbos keeper in the 50th minute. The ball trickled wide right.

As Middlebury found their chances early, Tufts almost broke through in the second half with several one-on-one chances between Jumbos forwards and Sydor.  Some chances sailed high or wide, and Sydor recorded six saves on the game.

Sydor praised his back line that helped him record his sixth shutout of the season.

“I think collectively, our defense has matured a lot since Colby. Before then we were feeling invincible which was good but at times made us take things for granted.  Colby served as a great wake up call.  From there we made a few tactical adjustments which I think have been working well so far.”

Late in the game, Middlebury almost converted on a set piece, with a Tim Ogle ’17 throw in that skipped across the face of goal.

In the overtime periods, Tufts held the upper hand, especially early. Halfway through the first overtime, Tufts fired a point blank shot on frame that Sydor managed to keep out with his foot. As the overtime periods drew to a close, Tufts pushed their last opportunity wide with almost two minutes left.

After a goal kick, Middlebury won a free kick at the halfway line with one minute left.  Goss-Woliner – who found it convenient to carefully tie his shoe – sent the ball into the Tufts box as time expired to end the game in a tie.

‘We were very frustrated with the result against Williams,” Echiverria commented on the week’s play. “We thought we had played a very good game, perhaps one of our best in the entire season, and we were not able to get the win regardless. However, against Tufts we were happy with only picking up a point. They are a very good team and we wanted to stop the recent losing streak.”

Middlebury has a chance to build on this weekend’s tie with a doubleheader next weekend, Oct. 11 and 12. The team will travel to Trinity and Hamilton on Saturday and Sunday respectively.  The two teams sit 10th and ninth, respectively, in the conference table.

“We’ve got it all to do,” Saward said. “It’s up to us. I think we’ve got the players, I think we’ve got the capability of doing it, but we’ve got to put a full game together… If we can put a little run together we’ll be fine.”

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