Ephs overcome White Mules 1-0 on senior day despite red card

October 22, 2011

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - Despite playing down a man for the final 37 minutes of the match, Williams men's soccer was able to ride a 15th minute penalty kick from Philip Vestergaard'12 to a victory over Colby on Williams' senior day. Colby was particularly threatening in the game's final minutes, but was unable to break through the Eph back line.

"I thought [Vestergaard] was very good, and he's been very good in the back all year for us," Eph Head Coach Mike Russo said. 

It was the second consecutive shutout for Eph goalkeeper Than Finan '13, who had two saves on the game. Colby goalkeeper Ben Joslin also played very well, making three stops of his own.

Williams now stands at 7-3-2 on the season, with a 5-2-2 record in the NESCAC. Colby fell to 6-6-1 overall and 2-6-1 in the NESCAC.

Peter Christman '13 earned the penalty kick when he was tripped on the right edge of the box in the 15th minute. Vestergaard stepped up and buried the ball in the right corner for his second goal in two games off of a penalty kick.

The Ephs' best opportunity from the run of play in the game came in the 32nd minute.Angus Kennedy '12 picked up the ball on a Colby clearance and beat two Mule defenders, sliding into the box on the left side. Kennedy took a shot that Joslin parried the away to the right, where Dan Lima '14 picked up rebound at the top of the six. Joslin was again able to get in front of Lima's strike from the rebound, and the White Mules escaped unscathed.

Colby had substantial possession at the end of the half, pulling Finan off his line on several occasions on crosses and free kicks while earning several corner kicks. However, the White Mules were unable to truly threaten, and the game went to half time with the Ephs up 1-0.

The game changed early in the second half after the Ephs were forced play a man down. In the 51st minute, Zach Grady '15 picked up a yellow card after a scuffle in the corner of the field; less than two minutes later, Grady picked up his second yellow after a slide tackle in midfield, earning a red card and putting Ephs down a man with more than 37 minutes to play.

Over the next 30 minutes, neither team was able to create a shot on net. Colby regularly had possession down the flanks, but was unable to build a significant attack; Williams was able to threaten on counters, but their attacks were equally ineffective.

The final seven minutes of the second half proved to be the most eventful of the game. First, a foul by Doug Weinrib '13 at the top left of the 18 in the 84th minute gave Colby their most dangerous set of opportunities of the match. Andrew Meisel's ensuing free kick deflected off a player in the box; the deflection directed the ball just above Finan's head, and Finan was able to tip the ball off the crossbar. The rebound was volleyed by a White Mule at the top right of the six, but Michael Madding '15 was on the line to clear the ball and conserve the Ephs' lead.

Colby again threatened in the 86th minute, this time off a corner kick.  Finan punched the original corner away, but the ball was served from the top right of the 18 back into the box, where Jonthan Sommer was waiting just above the six-yard box. Sommer fired on net, but Finan was there to stop the ball on the line. In the 87th minute, a handball led to a Colby free kick, which then went for a corner, but the White Mules were unable to take advantage.  Although the visitors continued to pressure for the remainder of the match, they were unable to test Finan again, and Williams walked away with the win.

"The first 10 or 15 minutes I thought we played well," Russo said. "Then we scored the goal, and I think we said 'this is going to be easy' again and kind of let our guard down. They didn't penetrate a lot but they certainly had a lot more possession, made us chase a bit. I thought in the second half especially, yes, we were down a man, but we were just back on our heels and we weren't claiming balls. We need to get much sharper. [I'm] delighted with the win, because it's important in the league especially… but we need to play better." 

"Christman in the second half was also very good for us, pushing forward and closing fast and hard," Russo added. "I think our midfield in general was a little bit off, an we gave [the Mules' midfield] too much time on the ball … we just need to be a little more solid on defense in that part of the field."

The match marked the final regular season home game in the careers of seniors Vestergaard, Kennedy, Daniel Morrisroe '12, Takuto Sato '12, Matthew Staiger '12, and co-captain Nick Pugliese '12.

Williams next faces RPI tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. on the road. Colby takes on Bates on Oct. 26 at 3 p.m. for its final game of the season.

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