Dramatic Overtime Win for Men’s Soccer in Homecoming Matchup

By Colin McIntyre

The Middlebury men’s soccer team (7-2-3, 4-2-3) drew and won over fall break, and won on Saturday, Oct. 18 at home to move up in the NESCAC standings and record their first wins since Colby halted their five game shutout win streak in September.

On Saturday, Oct. 11, the team traveled to Hartford and battled Trinity to a 1-1 double overtime draw. The Panthers fell behind early when Trinity put home the opening goal 20 minutes in. Middlebury was able to keep the game close in the opening half and equaled the Bantams’ seven first half shots.  

Middlebury’s equalizer came in the 63rd minute when Adam Glaser ’17 found Greg Conrad ’17, who put home his third goal of the season. Middlebury looked for an opportunity to take all three points, but were unable to find a winner, despite holding a 10-3 advantage on corner kicks.  As the game went into overtime, the Panthers put four shots on target in the first ten minutes, but had all of the chances turned away. Greg Sydor ’17 recorded five saves on the day as the Panthers played their second straight draw.

The following day, Middlebury played their second fall break game at last-place Hamilton. The Panthers were able to convert their early opportunities and scored two of the three on-target shots in the first half. Just 97 seconds after kick off, Glaser stole the ball outside the Hamilton penalty area, passed to Conrad, who returned the favor to set up Glaser’s sixth goal of the season.

Hamilton had an opportunity early in the first half when Sydor punched a ball out on a corner kick and a Hamilton player bicycle kicked a ball that was cleared by the Panther back line. 

Middlebury took a two-goal lead after Dan Skayne ’15 set up Conrad. Conrad took a pass in from Skayne in the 29th minute, settled the ball outside the penalty area and sent a shot into the top right corner.

Middlebury preserved its lead throughout the second half; Sydor turned away the two on target Hamilton shots to earn the shutout. Hamilton led Middlebury 13-11 on shots, but could not match the Panthers’ accuracy.  Kirk Horton ’17 nearly added a third goal before halftime on a corner kick, but the score remained 2-0 as Middlebury won for the first time since Sept. 23.

After the draw and loss, Conrad described the team’s mentality.

“Although we didn’t get the results we wanted going into the weekend, we played some of our best soccer this season,” Conrad said. “It seems like everything is coming together and now we just need to focus on closing out games.”

This Saturday, Oct. 18, the Panthers hosted Bates in a homecoming matchup for the Hedley Reynolds Cup, an annual trophy awarded in memory of Thomas Hedley Reynolds, an administrator at Middlebury prior to becoming the President of Bates College.

Middlebury dominated early in the rainy ordeal, buoyed by a size advantage that saw the Panthers win most balls in the air and push forward into the Bates half, including a flurry of shots all turned away in the 13th minute.  In the 18th minute, Philip Skayne ’17 crossed the ball from the right towards Glaser. Glaser settled the ball, put a move on a Bates defender at the top of the penalty box, and pushed a curling shot around the keeper into the right side of the net. The goal was Glaser’s seventh on the season, and the assist was the first for Skayne.

Bates kept the game close, despite struggling for chances early in the second half. In the 70th minute, Middlebury mishandled a clearance on the right baseline, and the ball bounced around several players until Bates forced home the equalizer. As regulation drew to a close, Bates had several opportunities to go ahead, including a one-on-one save from Sydor in the 77th minute — his only save of the day — and a shot that missed just wide right with under three minutes to go. 

The game went to overtime, as four of Middlebury’s last five matchups have, and the Panthers wasted no time showing that they were the better team. Two minutes in, Phil Skayne sent in Middlebury’s eighth corner kick of the day from the left side, where the rebound shot of Deklan Robinson ’16 bounced off of Horton before Conrad pushed in the game winner. 

Horton commented on the recent string of wins. “Getting back to winning ways was great after a couple of losses and ties, but we haven’t been doing anything differently defensively from a tactical perspective, it has been more about regaining our bite that we had in the first six games, and the aggressiveness to keep forwards away from our goal.” Horton said.

Despite scoring three goals in three matches, Conrad pointed to an improved team attack mentality, saying, “I don’t think anything has really changed for me personally, I just happened to be the last guy to touch the ball in our buildups. We seem to be getting a lot more opportunities going forward as a team and have a wide variety of guys that can score goals.”

Middlebury finishes its NESCAC season on Saturday, when they host Wesleyan, who currently is tied with Williams and Middlebury for third place in the NESCAC. Middlebury’s regular season will conclude Wednesday, when they play Plymouth State.

“One thing that’s great about this team is we all believe that on any given day, we can play with and beat any team in our league,” Horton said.