Men’s Soccer Blanks Castleton but Loses Ground in NESCAC


Ethan Galliete ’13 challenges a Wesleyan player. Galliete has played every match. (Courtesy/Jeff Patterson)

By Owen Teach

Coming off a disappointing weekend that featured two NESCAC losses at home, the men’s soccer team had two opportunities to get back in the win column with games at Wesleyan on Saturday, Sept. 29 and at Castleton State on Tuesdsay, Oct. 2.

Against their NESCAC rivals, the Panthers failed to score for the third consecutive game, failing 1-0 to the Cardinals. While the Panthers managed to generate more opportunities on the offensive side of the ball — a pitfall in their pair of home defeats a weekend ago — they failed yet again to finish in front of goal.

The conference defeat dropped the Panthers to 3-4 overall, with a 1-4 record in the NESCAC. Following the loss in Middletown, Conn., which marked the halfway point in regular season action, senior midfielder Jason Brooke ’13 commented on the growing importance of each game.

“It is impossible to deny that there isn’t a sense of anxiousness given the recent results and the necessity to get some goals and wins,” said Brooke. “That being said there are many things to be positive about. The team has been looking sharper and sharper over the past few games. We physically battled against the neanderthals at Amherst and went toe to toe with Wesleyan, one of the most technical teams in the league.”

The lone goal of the game came in the 35th minute when Wesleyan’s Matt Hertgen notched a header goal off a well-executed cross from the side.

Though the scoreboard did not reflect it, the game also included an increased offensive output from the Panthers, who fired seven shots at the Cardinals keeper, more than they managed in the past two games combined.

“Even though the result was disappointing, as an attacking threat we looked more dangerous in the second half against Wesleyan than we have all season,” said Brooke. “The play was dynamic and guys were really working hard to get into the right positions, things just did not really fall our way.”

Coach Dave Saward shared Brooke’s analysis.

“I felt we definitely did better in generating chances,” said Saward. “We changed the system and put three players up front. We took more risks, and it ended up a tight game against a good team.”

Saward and his team also enjoyed a much smoother run of play following the scrappy Amherst contest.

“There were only five fouls committed in the whole game,” said Saward. “Compared to the Amherst game, it almost looked like a different sport. It was a fun game to watch, and they certainly gave their best effort. In this game, there is such a fine line between having the luck you need and not.”

Dan Skayne ’15 and Harper Williams ’15 had solid performances in the midfield, while Ethan Galliete ’13 played well up front. Goalkeeper Zach Abdu-Glass ’13 also posted six saves in the contest, his highest total thus far in 2012.

“Zach has been incredible at the back,” said Brooke. “He, along with help from the backline, has really kept us in games that could have gotten out of hand early on.”

Tuesday, Oct. 2, the Panthers finally broke their goalless streak, netting a stunning 3-0 victory over Castleton State with three unassisted goals in the game’s final 11 minutes. With 78 minutes already in the books, Middlebury was once again at risk of being shut out. Instead, the Panthers ended the streak in the most auspicious of ways, taking their first lead in more than two weeks off a Castleton own-goal in the 79th minute. Sam Peisch ’13.5 followed ten minutes later, scoring his first goal of the season in the 87th minute, and was quickly followed by Ben Tabah ’13 who extended the Middlebury lead to three in the 90th. The Panthers fired 30 shots in the contest, led by Peisch with seven and Williams with six. Middlebury improved to 4-4 on the season, with three of their wins coming in nonconference play.

The Panthers return to NESCAC play this weekend with games against Hamilton and Connecticut College on Oct. 6 and 7, respectively. With a 1-4 start to conference play, Saward said that what his team needs is a bit of luck in light of its continuing injury problems.

“The big issue for us has been injuries,” said Saward. “I don’t like to use it as an excuse, but it has to be given the six guys that are out. No squad is immune to that sort of decimation. Nobody likes to say it, but we need a bit of luck.”

Saward keeps the situation in perspective.

“I feel better today than Davis Love III [Captain of the USA Ryder Cup team] does,” said Saward.