WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — Sophomore Bayard Geeslin's 72nd minute goal proved the difference as the Hamilton College men's soccer team (5-6-3, NESCAC 3-4-3) managed to just hang on, 2-1, against Williams College (9-5-0, NESCAC 6-4-0) after being down a goal early in the game at Cole Field Wednesday afternoon.
Geeslin's goal came after a throw-in from the right side by fellow sophomore Zach Becker, whose ball landed at the feet of junior Daniel Kraynak. Kraynak's ensuing cross to the opposite side of the field resulted in a battle between Geeslin and senior Eph defender Dan Lima, which Geeslin won. Geeslin drove into the box on the left side and put the ball right between the legs of senior Eph keeper Peter Morrell's and into the back of the net.
Geeslin's goal completed the comeback that started in the first half after the Ephs opened the scoring, after looking very threatening from the very beginning of the game, creating a plethora of chances.
The Ephs finally were able to capitalize on one of their chances in the 14th minute, when Eph senior Matt Kastner found himself with the ball in an advanced position in the Continentals' defense. He played a great pass to sophomore Mohammed Rashid in the center of the pitch, which Rashid unselfishly one-touched to junior Matt Muralles who was lurking on the right side of the Continental's penalty area. Muralles made no mistake with his finish, hitting the ball first-time across goal and into the back of the net to open up the scoring.
The Ephs' strong start, however, did not demoralize the Continentals, as it took them just nine minutes to respond with a goal of their own.
Junior Conor Bradley received a pass right in the center of the field and immediately turned to send an inch-perfect through ball down the right side to senior Leo Nizzi, who outran the Williams defense to collect the ball on the right side of the box. Nizzi slid a ball toward the center of the penalty area to Kraynak, who redirected the ball to junior John McGuinnis, who placed his shot perfectly over the right shoulder of the diving Morrell to equalize.
The rest of the first half past with a lot of back-and-forth play but with very few good looks on goal; however, both teams came out firing on all cylinders in the second half.
The Continentals looked to have the first good chance of the second half just inside eight minutes. The Continentals won a corner on the right wing, which was taken by Nizzi. Nizzi floated the ball into the center of the area where Geeslin was able to connect his head with the ball. Geeslin's header was blocked by an Eph defender, but the ball fell kindly to senior Ethan Kelly, who could only knock his ball wide-right of the target as he stared down an empty net.
The Ephs created a great chance of their own in the 66th minute after some good defensive work. Sophomore Troy Ritter received a pass at midfield from Lima. Ritter took his time to collect and then dumped the ball off to Rashid, who then knocked a beautiful through ball to senior User Kushaina on the left wing. Kushaina raced up the left side of the field toward the touchline, where he swung his cross into the box. His cross managed to avoid everyone but was collected by freshman Malcolm Moutenot on the right side of the penalty area. Moutenot calmly laid the ball off to sophomore Geoff Danilack, who rocketed his shot directly on goal, forcing a nice save out of senior keeper Freddy Porges.
The deciding goal came just six minutes later, pressuring the Ephs to find a response.
A mere three minutes after the goal was scored, it seemed as if the Ephs might equalize as they were awarded a penalty when Rashid was brought down hard from behind inside the Continentals' penalty area. Junior Andres Burbank-Crump stepped up to take the penalty, but he overzealously smashed the ball over the crossbar.
In spite of the missed opportunity, the Ephs continued to press with everything they had. Their best chance to equalize came in the 83rd minute, as the Ephs continued to pressure the right side of the Continentals' defense. Once again, it was Rashid who found himself in an advanced position on the left wing. He attempted a cross into the box, but it was cut out by a Continental defender. Danilack managed to collect the deflection, however, and put fellow sophomore Jonathan Westling on goal on the left side of the box. Westling's low shot managed to slip under the flailing arms of Porges, but the shot was saved by the slide of sophomore Andrew Martin. The ball was yet to be cleared though, as Rashid found himself on the end of the clearance, but his proceeding shot was saved well by Porges.
The Ephs could only watch as the rest of the time was consumed by the intelligent possession of the Continentals.
After the game, Eph head coach Mike Russo voiced his disappointment: "It wasn't meant to be I guess. They might have had more at stake because if they win, then they're in the tournament, but once again we should have put them away in the first fifteen minutes with all the chances we had. We just couldn't finish."
The Ephs outshot the Continentals by a margin of 19 to 10, with 10 shots on goal to the Continentals' 4. The Ephs also had 9 corners to the Continentals' 3 and only 7 fouls to the 10 of the Continentals. Two yellow cards were given out on the day, one each to Westling and Eph junior Zach Grady.
With the win, Hamilton managed to edge into the NESCAC tournament, so they will play at Amherst this Saturday. Regardless of today's loss, the Ephs had already booked their ticket in the tournament and will host Middlebury this Saturday at 12:30 PM.