KEENE, NH -- After trading goals with the Connecticut College Camels for the entire first half of today's contest, the Williams College Ephs ultimately came out victorious thanks to an impressive fourth quarter run by Andy Grabowski.
The Ephs (4-1, 2-1 NESCAC) entered the game with three consecutive wins under their belt, determined to gain a fourth. The Camels (3-2, 1-1 NESCAC) entered with the same overall record of 3-1, but had only played one prior league game.
The teams were well matched. Although it was technically the first home game for Williams, the contest took place at Keene State College, as the fields in Williamstown are undergoing renovation.
The first several minutes of play were competitive, with each squad's defense forcing many turnovers. Both keepers saw action, though Bobby Bleistein experienced a high number of shots from the Ephs. Still, the score remained 0-0 for most of the first quarter.
With 5:12 remaining, Briggs Barton scored an unassisted goal to lift his team to 1-0. As can be expected from the Williams attack, they answered back in less than two minutes with a goal from Michael Fahey. The first quarter, tied at 1-1, was a sign of the close and competitive contest that was to follow.
The beginning of the second quarter held a lot of promise for the Camels. They won another faceoff, and quickly gained a man-up advantage from a Williams penalty. As a result, they netted their second goal with 13:47 remaining.
The Ephs spent the following minutes attempting to retaliate once again. After a few turnovers, Tanner MacIvor continued his recent scoring streak with another goal. There was 9:41 remaining until the half.
Neither team was able to dominate the game, as indicated by the close score. Williams suffered another penalty that created a man-up situation for the Camels, but this time the Williams defense refused to back down. The tied score put pressure on each team, as they tried persistently to gain the lead.
With less than a minute left, the Camels succeeded. Their third goal would prove pivotal for their success in the third quarter.
Though Williams dominated the first few minutes of the second half, they were not able to find the back of the net.
On their first shot of the half, the Camels scored their fourth goal, raising the deficit to two goals for the first time in the contest.
This seemed to awaken something in the Ephs. They immediately took a series of shots, and with 10:34 remaining, Eric Kelley scored a vital unassisted goal.
The remainder of the third quarter involved heavy offensive play from both sides. Both Whittam and Bleistein tended their goals with intensity.
Connecticut College increased their lead, scoring two goals in about six minutes.
However, Bryson Gilbert-Bono helped to close the gap for his team, scoring with 1:57 remaining off an assist from Andy Grabowski before time expired in the third quarter.
Grabowski proved key in the fourth quarter, scoring two goals in the first two minutes. Both of these crucial goals were assisted by first-year Duncan Cummings. With 13:02 remaining, the score was yet again tied up, this time at 6-6.
In the following minutes each team would trade possession, and again the goalkeepers proved vital. The tenacious Williams offense then took control, keeping the Camels on their toes. Bleistein racked up a number of saves in those final minutes.
It was Grabowski who came to the Ephs' rescue again, receiving a pass from Michael Fahey and scoring a much-needed seventh goal to pull ahead. This was Grabowski's third goal of the quarter.
Though the outcome seemed favorable, Williams knew that it would come down to a strong defense with over five minutes remaining. They were able to maintain possession, despite a last-minute timeout call by the Camels. No amount of strategizing could penetrate the Williams defensemen.
The sound of the final buzzer caused the Ephs great relief, as they narrowly collected their fourth consecutive victory.
"It was a great come-from-behind victory," Coach George McCormack commented. "Our defense was really strong and Andy Grabowski really stepped up on offense."
The Ephs outshot their opponents 49-21, and collected 30 ground balls to the Camels' 21. Bleistein tallied 21 saves to Whittam's 8.
Grabowski was the high scorer of the contest with a hat trick, while Tyler Hagerty scored two for the Camels.
The Ephs will return to action at Bates College next Saturday, March 22 at 1 pm.