Williams takes down Connecticut College 3-0
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA--An impressive ensemble performance carried the Williams men’s soccer team to a 3-0 win over Connecticut College at Cole Field on Sunday. The result lifted Williams to 5-0-1 (4-0-1 NESCAC), while the Camels fell to 1-2-2 (0-2-2 NESCAC).
The Camels largely controlled play for the game’s opening 15 minutes but failed to create any serious scoring chances, thanks in part to the work of goalkeeper Pete Morrell, whose aggressive play precluded several Connecticut crosses from finding their intended target. In the 19th minute, Morrell was finally tested by the game’s shot on goal and proved himself more than up to the task, diving to his right to stop a tough shot by the Camels’ Nick Maghenzani. And while the Camels continued to press in Williams’ end for much of the half, possession gradually evened out after Williams brought on its high-powered offensive trio of User Kushaina, Mohammed Rashid, and Patrick Ebobisse in the 17th minute.
After the game, Ephs coach Mike Russo credited the Camels for their aggressive early play.
“They came out and played hard and put us under pressure. But as the first half went on we got our rhythm a little bit, and the first goal made things tough for them.”
The goal to which Russo alluded came just moments before the horn signaling the end of the first half sounded, and was of a rather unusual variety. The play began when Michael Madding’s excellent dummy along the right sideline sprung forward User Kushaina deep into Connecticut territory. As he drew near the touchline, Kushaina sent a low cross into the box for Mohammed Rashid, only to see it deflected on goal by Camel fullback Michael Flippin. The unexpected redirection caught goalie Casey Marini moving the wrong way, and the Ephs, who until that point had yet to record a shot on goal, finally had the breakthrough that had eluded them in their previous match against Wesleyan.
The goal seemed to galvanize the Ephs, who came out flying in the second half and quickly doubled their advantage in the 47th minute. A knifing run by Rashid that took him past multiple defenders drew Marini out of the goal, a move that allowed Rashid to slide a simple but elegant ball through the box to a wide-open Kushaina,, who drilled the ball into the unguarded net and notched his second tally of the season.
“We knew it would be tough for them if we could get another [to start the second half],” said Russo.
Williams put the game away in the 69th minute. A sustained bout of pressure deep in the Camels' end yielded a corner kick, which was taken by Rashid. Rashid’s high, looping cross found its way to the back post, where Noah Grumman sent a header into near corner to put the game out of reach. It was the first collegiate goal for the freshman, who had re-entered the game as a substitute seconds before the corner.
That was more than enough for Morrell, who made two saves to pick up his first shutout of the season. It was the third team shutout for Williams, whose backline seems to grow stingier with each passing game.
“I think they [the defense] have played extremely well. Danny Lima has stepped up in a big way for us to provide leadership, but everyone’s been very strong in the air. They’re starting to understand how a back line is supposed to play, and they’ve become a strong force in the middle of the field.”
What made the shutout even more impressive was that the Ephs were without senior captain Matt Ratajczak, who sat out with a hip flexor injury sustained against Wesleyan. Russo expects that he will be ready to play when the Ephs take the field again; in the meantime, sophomore Luke Pierce has filled in ably.
After a weekend full of NESCAC action, each team will face a non-conference opponent next. The Ephs will remain at home to face Utica College, while the Camels will return to New London to face UMass Dartmouth for their third game in five days.
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