Panthers Ride On Reid’s Right Foot

By RILEY PLANT

In the first round of Nescac playoffs, the fifth-seeded men’s soccer team (11–5) took down fourth-seeded Connecticut College (9–3–4) in a 1–0 overtime victory on Saturday, Oct. 28. The win served as the Panthers’ ninth shutout this season, eight of which Middlebury won by a 1–0 score.

“Eight 1–0 victories must be some sort of record,” said an excited Dave Saward following his team’s win. The opening half showed anything but a decisive advantage for either team. The Camels managed to hold a 4–3 advantage in shots, but the Panthers arguably walked away with the best opportunity of the half when Drew Goulart ’20 was awarded a free kick from the goal line just outside the penalty box. The kick dropped just in front of the net, where a Camel defender was able to clear it.

Just three minutes into the second half, the Panthers were awarded another set piece from the top-left corner of the penalty area, but Jed Sass ’18’s shot carried just high of the net.

In addition to a few good chances missed by Middlebury, Connecticut College scared the Panthers when Liam Noonan fired a shot from the top of the penalty area in the 77th minute. His initial shot was blocked, but he snagged the rebound and had another attempt to put the Camels on top. This time, he blasted one through most of the defense only to have the chance smothered by the diving Panther goalkeeper, Jeremy Yeager ’18. The save kept the game scoreless and would force the eventual overtime.

“[Kyle] Moffat ’19 and Aidan Robinson ’20 were steady and consistent at the back,” said Saward on his defense’s lock-down play.

Less than five minutes into the golden-goal overtime, the Panthers were able to string together the game-winning play. Goulart sent a pass to Reid, putting him on a partial breakaway, where he was able to evade a defender and chip a close range shot over the Camel goalkeeper, A.J. Marcucci. The shot landed in the upper third of the net and sent the Panthers into a frenzy as Reid notched his third game-winning goal of the season.

“There were not a lot of clear chances but when our chance came Reid did well to find the back of the net,” said Saward.

Yeager recorded his ninth shutout of the season between the pipes with four saves.

With the win, Middlebury will advance to the Nescac Semifinals where they face third-seeded Bowdoin in Medford, Massachusetts, on Saturday, Nov. 4.

“With regard to Bowdoin we have to be patient when we attack as they defend very well,” said Saward, looking ahead to Saturday’s showdown. “We cannot provide them with counter attack opportunities.

“We have to win the game by dominating the middle of the field. They have a very solid goalkeeper so we need to extend him.”

The top-seeded Tufts Jumbos will play seventh-seeded Hamilton, and the winners from each of those two games will face each other on Sunday, Nov. 5 for the Nescac Championship.

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