The Panthers just wrapped up a successful yet brutal week, both at home and on the road. Last Tuesday, Sept. 18 the men’s soccer team traveled over four hours to Newburgh, NY for an out-of-conference matchup with Mt. Saint Mary College. Middlebury had a hot start with Raffi Barsamian ’21 scoring his first career goal in style. Barsamian hit a spectacular 40-yard shot in the ninth minute after an assist from Drew Goulart ’20. Ben Potter ’20 scored back-to-back goals in the 12th and 40th minutes. Fazl Shaikh ’20 rounded out the half by finding the net in the 44th minute. The Panthers cruised through the second half and Matthew Hyer ’21 recorded yet another shutout. After the game, the boys hopped right back on the bus, returning to Midd at 2 a.m. the following morning.
Only three days later, the 2-3 Bowdoin Polar Bears rolled into Middlebury looking to inch back to .500 on the season. Bowdoin took the early lead, as Drake Byrd scored in the 11th minute. The Panthers spent the remaining 80 minutes trying to equalize, but fell short.
“Just look at the number of shots we had to theirs. [Middlebury 12 vs. Bowdoin 5],” said Kye Moffat ’19. “We had the better of the chances. They scored on a nice free kick and we just weren’t able to get it back.”
After the match, the Panthers made their way to New York again for an away game against Hamilton.
The match against Hamilton started slowly. At halftime the scoreline remained at 0-0. Four minutes into the second half, Hamilton’s Jefri Schmidt scored after an assist from Jeff Plump on a free kick. The following 34 minutes remained scoreless, and it looked as if the Panthers were heading for a devastating weekend of back-to-back 1-0 losses. However, the Panthers proved their resiliency once again as Barsamian assisted and Henry Wilhelm ’20 shot an equalizing goal in the 84th minute.
At 90 minutes, the game remained tied at 1-1 and the match went into overtime. The first OT went by scoreless. With time running out, Middlebury was able to convert one of their 22 shots into a goal. Shaikh assisted Davis Oudet ’20, who scored his first career goal for Middlebury during the most critical seconds, with only 1:37 remaining on the clock. The Panthers locked down on defense for the remaining minute and a half to get the win.
“The two goals against Hamilton came because the entire team was fighting for the man next to him,” Hyer said about the win from behind. “Henry and Davis both came off the bench and put their bodies on the line to get the ball in the back of the net. The message for the game was essentially to grind until you can’t anymore, then trust the guys who come on after you. In the end, it worked.”
The Panthers have a more relaxing week ahead of them without a midweek game. On Saturday, Sept. 29 the team will head to Colby before wrapping up the weekend against the University of Maine at Farmington. Hyer said the Panthers have been looking forward to Saturday’s matchup for some time now.
“Colby beat us last year so we’ve had their name marked on the calendar for a long time,” Hyer said. “Like every NESCAC game, getting three points is essential and if we bring the fight we had at Hamilton, I think we can beat anybody.”