The Middlebury men’s soccer team opened its season with two 1-0 wins over Norwich and Connecticut College, giving the team its first 2-0 start since the 2010 season.
On Wednesday, Sept. 9, the Panthers traveled to Northfield, VT to face off with Norwich in their season opener. Just 3:58 seconds into the game, Tyler Bonini ’16 received a pass from Adam Glaser ’17 in front, and dealt with it nicely to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead. After playing in just six games last year, Bonini earned his start in the midfield with this second career goal.
Bonini’s goal would prove to be enough for Middlebury, as neither team would be able to score for the rest of the match. Glaser almost scored one for himself in the 16th minute, but Norwich goalkeeper Stefan Skoff made an excellent save to keep the slicing shot out, and Bonini sent the rebound over the bar to end Middlebury’s attack.
The Panthers held the ball for most of the first half, gaining a 16-3 shot advantage, but that changed in the second half as Norwich fought to tie the game. With just over 29 minutes to go, Norwich’s Colin Lozito missed wide from the top of the 18 in what might have been the team’s best chance at equalizing the score. Middlebury secured the 1-0 win, without conceding a shot, earning Greg Sydor ’17 his ninth clean sheet in just 18 games played between the posts for Middlebury.
In Middlebury’s home opener against Connecticut College last Saturday, Sept. 12, the Panthers — missing their group of seven first-years — struck early once again. In the third minute, Tom Bean ’17 pushed a header past Camel goalkeeper, Austin DaCuhna, into the top-right corner for a 1-0 lead. Tim Ogle ’17 set up the goal with one of his patented long throws, lofting the ball in from the right to find Bean’s head.
“[This] is the one area in soccer where real structure and repetition of practice can sometimes yield success,” Head Coach Dave Saward said. “We have good physical size and we have a player in Tim Ogle who has a long throw, which is a very dangerous weapon.”
Just seven minutes later, Middlebury almost doubled the lead with another header, this time by Philip Skayne ’17, but DaCuhna redirected it just above the crossbar. At the 12 minute mark, the Camels set up for a free kick from 25 yards after a Panther foul, and Colin Patch curled a shot, which was denied by Sydor. The rebound bounced to Conn. College’s Pat Devlin, whose shot was also denied by Sydor to end the Camel’s opportunity.
There weren’t many scoring chances for either side until Conn. College ramped up the pressure in the final minutes in a last ditch, desperate effort to get a goal. Devlin struck again only to be sent away by Sydor as he guided Devlin’s 15-yard shot from over the bar, clinching Middlebury’s second 1-0 win.
Praising the Panthers’ defensive efforts, Saward commented that “Rodlauer, Robinson, Weiner and Horton worked very hard all afternoon.”
The Panthers will take their 2-0 record into this Saturday, Sept. 19’s away match against Amherst, a game that could have major implications at the top of the NESCAC standings.