Williams and Wesleyan play to scoreless tie

by Elliot Chester
September 22, 2012

 

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA--A series of unlucky bounces and close calls defined Saturday’s men’s soccer game between Williams and Wesleyan as the two teams battled to a tense 0-0 draw at Cole Field. The result stopped a four-game winning streak for the Ephs (4-0-1, 3-0-1 NESCAC), while the Cardinals earned their second consecutive tie, which leaves them with a 3-1-2 record (2-1-1 NESCAC).

Neither team managed to completely control the first half, though the Ephs gradually came to carry the run of play as the period wore on and held advantages in both shots (7-3) and corner kicks (2-1). Williams also generated a number of chances thanks to a series of cutting crosses provided by defender Chris Conder, the most dangerous of which came in the 11th minute, when an onrushing User Kushaina narrowly missed what almost certainly would have been a scoring touch.

Each squad managed one serious scoring chance in the half. In the 17th minute, a beautiful through-ball from defender Michael Madding found Kushaina for a mini-breakaway. Kushaina’s shot was low and hard, but Cardinal keeper Adam Purdy sprawled to make a tough kick save. The rebound came straight to Ephs forward Mohammed Rashid, whose one-timer beat a prone Purdy but clanged off the post and out of danger. The Cardinals’ best opportunity to break the stalemate came about 20 minutes later, when Rory O’Neill received a pass from Matt Hertgen and used the outside of his right foot to send a curling shot on goal that Eph goalie Than Finan did well to turn aside. Chris Kafina’s header on the ensuing corner was on frame with pace, but Finan was perfectly positioned to make his second save of the half.

Wesleyan came out attacking to start the second half and held a 7-5 advantage in shots in the half, but neither side managed any serious scoring chances in what proved to be a foul-filled half. Williams received a scare with eight and a half minutes remaining in the second half when co-captain Matt Ratajczak went down with what appeared to be severe hamstring cramps and was replaced at center back by Luke Pierce. Ratajczak is considered doubtful for tomorrow’s contest against Connecticut College.

“Luke Pierce filled in admirably in the back,” said Coach Mike Russo after the game. Russo also complimented his entire backline, which has now allowed just three goals in the season’s first five games, for coming up with another stingy performance.

The first overtime saw little change from the second half in terms of quality scoring opportunities until the waning seconds, when the Cardinals came within inches of notching the winner. A long cross from the right side by Brandon Sousa found its way to Daniel Issroff, whose shot caromed off the crossbar and appeared to bounce off the goal line. A follow-up shot by Walter Rodriguez was steered away by Finan, but an offisdes call made Finan’s excellent effort moot.

In the second overtime, Noah Grumman slid a pass through to Kushaina, who managed to poke the ball past Purdy, but the run was called offisides. It was to be the last serious scoring chance for either team, and time expired moments later, leaving the Ephs with a most bittersweet result.

“The boys left everything out on the field, and I couldn’t ask for any more in terms of effort,” said Russo. “Still, I’m disappointed we didn’t win it.”

Overall, the Ephs outshot the Cardinals 15-12 and held a 4-2 advantage in shots on goal, though Williams also recorded three times as many fouls as Wesleyan (24-8).

Both teams have a quick turnaround following today’s action. Williams will remain at home to face Connecticut College on Sunday, while Wesleyan returns to Middletown, CT. to square off against Western New England in a non-conference matchup on Tuesday.

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