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Reid Scores First Career Goal to Push Men’s Soccer Past Wesleyan

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Men’s soccer got a much-needed win on Sunday, Oct. 8, when it defeated Wesleyan 1–0 to snap its three-game losing streak in Nescac play.

Men’s soccer got a much-needed win on Sunday, Oct. 8, when it defeated Wesleyan 1–0 to snap its three-game losing streak in Nescac play.

Emma Stapleton

Emma Stapleton

Men’s soccer got a much-needed win on Sunday, Oct. 8, when it defeated Wesleyan 1–0 to snap its three-game losing streak in Nescac play.

By RILEY PLANT

Men’s soccer (7–4–0, 3–4–0) went one for two in their double-header weekend last week, Oct. 7 and 8, as they bounded-back from being shut-out by 12th-ranked Tufts (8–1–1, 5–1–1) on Saturday when they squeaked by Wesleyan (5–4–1, 1–4–1) by a narrow 1–0 margin on Sunday.

Much like their double header the previous weekend, a tough Saturday loss was somewhat avenged by a dominant Sunday performance.

In Saturday’s trip to Medford, the Panthers faced a certain challenge: The defending national champion Jumbos have only lost one match on their home turf headed into what was their annual homecoming game.

A 10th-minute goal got things moving for Tufts when a cross found the foot of a wide open Brett Rojas, who was able to calmly place the ball in the bottom left corner of the net.

Tufts grabbed another goal in the 40th-minute off a corner kick which was headed down to the feet of rookie Biagio Paoletta, who sent a rocket into the net for his first collegiate goal.

The Jumbos evidently were not satisfied going into the half with a 2–0 lead, as with just 30 seconds before the halftime whistle blew, Jarod Glover played a ball off his chest to teammate Dexter Eichhorst, who was able to one-touch the ball past Middlebury goalie Jeremy Yeager ’18. Another low shot from the top of the box just as the second half got underway cemented Tufts’ 4–0 victory.

Middlebury’s best opportunity came in the 21st minute as an on-target shot from Drew Goulart ’20 was deflected upwards and off the crossbar by the Tufts keeper, Bruce Johnson.

“Tufts was excellent,” coach David Saward said. “They were as good a Division III team that I have seen in a number of years. They thoroughly deserved the result.

“The big challenge for us was to ‘let go’ of the Tufts game and immediately refocus on the Wesleyan match. With a young team, we are only starting two seniors, the biggest challenge is to build confidence and consistency.”

To Saward’s delight, the team was able to let go of the Tufts game by the time kickoff rolled around on Sunday to play a well-grounded match at Wesleyan on Sunday. They edged the Cardinals 1–0 with a dominating 17–7 advantage in shots and 9–1 in shots on goal.

Middlebury nearly grabbed an early lead when a shot off the foot of Fazl Shaikh ’20 bounced off the crossbar from 23 yards out in the 10th minute. Wesleyan’s best chance came in the 36th, when James Schubauer took a rip from 10 yards away that would fly just barely too high.

After a scoreless opening half, Middlebury continued peppering shots and their efforts were finally rewarded in the 70th minute.

Brandon Reid ’21 notched the only goal of the day when he collected a through ball, outmaneuvered the Wesleyan goalie, and punched in the eventual game winner from about eight yards out. The rookie’s first career goal put the Panthers on top for good as Yeager notched his fifth clean sheet of the season in goal.

“Ultimately the team must defend better,” Saward said after Sunday’s victory over Wesleyan. “We have won every match in which we have kept a clean sheet and, against Wesleyan, they were excellent. Peter Davis ’19 had clearly his best match of the year and Kye Moffat ’19 is beginning to settle in as our rock in the middle of the back.

“Raffi Barsamian ’21 and Jeremy Barovick ’19 got through the necessary work in midfield to help stabilize our defending,” Saward said, continuing to commend the strong performances of his players. “We now have 4 matches to go and it is up to us to find the consistency, collective confidence and belief that ultimately helps teams win matches.”

Saward’s team will have a chance to execute that plan as they return to their home pitch on Saturday, Oct. 14, when they welcome a struggling Trinity team (2–8–1, 0–6–1) to FieldTurf Field.

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