MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - The Williams College men's soccer team used an efficient attack to best Bowdoin 2-0 in the NESCAC semifinals Saturday. The victory ends a three year drought for the second-seeded Ephs in the NESCAC championship game, with their last appearance being a 1-0 OT victory over Middlebury in 2006.
Williams improves to 13-2-1, while the fourth-seeded Polar Bears (11-4-1) saw their four-match win streak snapped.
The two teams played a largely even match but Williams finished and Bowdoin didn't and that was the difference for the Ephs. The Polar Bears took the edge in shots (Williams: 10, Bowdoin: 12) but Eph goalkeeper Andrew Graham's four saves and a pair of well placed shots from Pierre Meloty-Kapella and Gaston Kelly dashed Bowdoin's hopes for a shot at the NESCAC championship.
Neither team could pierce the other's defense in the games first twenty minutes, but Williams senior forward Pierre Meloty-Kapella was there to punish Bowdoin on their first defensive miscue. After finding himself with the ball unabated to the net, Meloty Kapella exploited the gap in the Polar Bear defenders to notch a goal from 18 yards out and put Williams ahead on the game's first shot, 20:04 into the first half.
Bowdoin did not muster its first shot of the match until the 25th minute, as sophomore midfielder Nick Powell sent the ball from the top of the box on net for Graham's first save of the game. The Williams defense largely was able to keep the Polar Bears from mounting a serious offensive threat in the first half.
The defenses of both sides began to loosen in the early goings of the second half and again Williams was there to exploit it. This time in the 68th minute when junior forward Gaston Kelly headed senior midfielder Will Whiston's corner kick through traffic and into the net, giving Williams the 2-0 lead with little over 30 minutes to play.
Bowdoin had a pair of golden opportunities in the second half but was denied both times. Ten minutes into the period, with the score still 1-0, sophomore forward Eddie Jones took a shot from the top of the box, which was saved by Graham. The rebound went to Powell along the left side of the box with Graham out of position, but Powell's shot at the open net sailed high. Bowdoin had a chance to halve Williams' margin with just under seven minutes remaining, but junior midfielder Ben Denton-Schneider's shot from 20 yards out hit the left post.
In the ten years of NESCAC championship existence Williams has now appeared in seven championship games, winning five of those games with a chance to make it six in their match up with Middlebury tomorrow afternoon in Middletown. This game will also mark the fifth time the Ephs will have faced-off against Middlebury in the title game -- with Williams holding a 3-1 edge in victories.
However, Middlebury won this year's regular season contest, a 1-0 decision at Middlebury in the just eight days ago.
Middlebury has now swept every member of the Little Three over their last three games, knocking off Williams; defeating Amherst 2-1 in its NESCAC tournament opener; and adding a 2-0 win over top-seeded Wesleyan -- a team that came in riding a school-high fifteen game unbeaten streak.
The NESCAC Championship game will be played at 12:00 PM Sunday and cab seen on the Internet by going to the Wesleyan Athletics homepage -- www.wesleyan.edu/athletics -- and clicking on the link under Webcasts.