Men’s Soccer Shocks, Beats Amherst on Home Turf

Drew+Goulart+%E2%80%9920+prepares+to+pass+the+ball+to+a+teammate+during+the+match%0Aagainst+Amherst+on+Saturday.
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Men’s Soccer Shocks, Beats Amherst on Home Turf

Drew Goulart ’20 prepares to pass the ball to a teammate during the match
against Amherst on Saturday.

Drew Goulart ’20 prepares to pass the ball to a teammate during the match against Amherst on Saturday.

MICHAEL BORENSTEIN/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS

Drew Goulart ’20 prepares to pass the ball to a teammate during the match against Amherst on Saturday.

MICHAEL BORENSTEIN/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS

MICHAEL BORENSTEIN/THE MIDDLEBURY CAMPUS

Drew Goulart ’20 prepares to pass the ball to a teammate during the match against Amherst on Saturday.

By ERIK ARVIDSSON

The Middlebury men’s soccer team headed into their September 15 game against Amherst, ranked 10th in the nation, with a winless record. The Panthers and the Mammoths battled it out for a tough 90 minutes with Middlebury coming out of the match with 14 shots compared to the Amherst’s 13. The match was physical from the start, and each team committed over 15 fouls; the referee dished out a whopping six yellow cards, four to Midd and two to Amherst. The tussle finally paid off when junior defender Henry Wilhelm brought the Panthers to glory with an unassisted goal in the 72nd minute. The Panthers locked down the defensive side of the field for the next 18 minutes, leading goalkeeper Matt Hyer ’21 his second shutout on the season after making four saves during the match.

With three games in a six day span coming up this week, a win was vital for the team atmosphere under its new coaching staff.

“This game meant everything for the direction of this program,” Raffi Barsamian ’21 emphasized. “It gave us a snapshot of what we can be — which is the best team in the country.”

Barsamian noted that the Panthers were able to handle the Mammoths by outperforming them at their own style of play, while still maintaining their own flair.

“Typically Amherst is the team that comes in and is going to bully you and play in the air — a really scrappy team,” Barsamian said. “We did that to them. We outfought them, [and] outworked them, while still conforming to our style.”

Alex Elias, first year head coach ‘08, said he could not have been more proud of the Panthers after the win. Barsamian noted that when the match was over, Coach Elias approached them in the huddle and applauded them for their dedication and effort to the team.

“[He said], ‘do you feel that energy? Do you feel this? This is what every game should feel like. You guys battled, and you won the fight,” Barsamian recalls.

As previously mentioned, Panthers have started a busy week. On Tuesday, September 18 the men headed to New York to face Mt. St. Mary at 7 p.m.. This weekend, September 22-23, the Panthers will play a NESCAC doubleheader with a home game against Bowdoin on Saturday, followed by an away game against Hamilton on Sunday.

As usual, the NESCAC battles will not be easy. When asked about how the Panthers can keep up the same energy that propelled them to the win against Amherst, Fazl Shaikh ’20 noted that it comes down to focus.

“We have the capabilities to do that game in and game out, [but] we need to focus on battling for 90 minutes,” Shaikh said. “‘It’s easy to say but harder to do. The games we lost, we had 50-60 good minutes. We need 90 good minutes every game.”

Greg Conrad ’17, first year assistant coach, is prepared to help the men find this focus.

“This upcoming week will be a good test for the group as mental preparation will be the biggest key to our success,” Conrad said. “We put together a great 90 minutes on Saturday and will need to continue to find that type of attention to detail throughout the year. Training this week will be very deliberate, and we hope to capture the intensity of the weekend and make it the standard.”

The players aren’t the ones who should be delivering intensity for those 90 minutes every game. To all fans, you are encouraged to come out and support the Panthers this weekend. The team’s energy is electric and contagious; let’s show them we have their backs.

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Men’s Soccer Shocks, Beats Amherst on Home Turf