HARTFORD, CT – A pair of goals late in the first half and solid defense during the final 45 minutes propelled the Williams College Ephs (1-0, 1-0 in the NESCAC) to a 2-1 victory over the Trinity College Bantams (0-1, 0-1 in the NESCAC) this afternoon.
Both teams appeared slightly jittery during the first few minutes of the game and struggled to maintain possession. Forward Mark Sisco-Tolomeo '18 drew an early foul, but Trinity easily managed the free kick. The Bantams seemed energized following two free kicks of their own and were able to complete some good passing sequences. Trinity forward Cody Savonen '18 then launched a quick shot that sailed high.
Williams responded well as midfielder Malcolm Singleton '18 sent a ball in to Sisco-Tolomeo, who earned a corner kick after his shot was tipped by a Trinity player. Sisco-Tolomeo had another scoring chance just seconds later, but his shot went above the net.
Although Trinity briefly threatened on the left side, defender Scatt Macdonald '19 remained stalwart and made an excellent slide tackle, and after about 15 minutes of play, the Ephs continued to improve. They put more pressure on the Bantam defense thanks to several long throw-ins. Forward Eric Hirsch '19 nearly scored with a diving header off of a corner kick from midfielder Chris Fleischer '20.
Around the midpoint of the first half, the game settled down. Both teams had smarter positioning and made stronger passes but struggled to finish. Hirsch had an opportunity in the box, forward Demian Gass '20 fired a shot high, and forward/midfielder Eli Petrik '21 sent one wide to the right after receiving a well-placed through ball. Similarly, Trinity midfielder Nigel Gustave '21 could not keep a long-range shot on target.
Finally, at 33:34, following a beautiful free kick from behind midfield and a scramble in the Trinity box, defender Sean Dory '19 smashed a rebound into the upper right corner of the goal to put Williams up 1-0.
The Ephs controlled the remainder of the first half and soon doubled their lead. Forward Bobby Fabricant '20 made an impressive run then sent a cross toward Petrik, who scored with a perfect volley at 40:01.
Williams remained composed and won most 50:50 balls at the beginning of the second half. Sisco-Tolomeo and Hirsch both had early shots, but after about 10 minutes and several Bantam substitutions, Trinity began to play with renewed vigor. They earned a corner kick when Eph goaltender Bobby Schneiderman '18 punched a shot from Bantam midfielder William Baker '19 over the crossbar.
With around 30 minutes remaining, the game became increasingly physical, and both teams had several free kicks and scoring chances. Notably, Schneidermann jumped out to interrupt a cross in a crowded box, and Trinity goalie Mateo Zabala '18 made an excellent save to avoid an own-goal after his teammate mishandled a free kick from forward/midfielder Kyle Brady '20.
Boosted by a tailwind toward the end of the match, Trinity repeatedly pressured the Williams defense and drew several fouls. Eph co-captain Tobias Muellers '18 made some good clears, but at 86:04, Bantam defender Henry Belt '21 scored with a low, powerful shot off of a cross from midfielder Max Cottrell '20, who displayed impressive footwork.
Every Trinity player, including Zabala, pressed downfield during the final few minutes, but Williams held on to secure the 2-1 win. Overall, the Ephs outshot the Bantams 19 to nine, and each team committed 14 fouls.
"Our squad dealt with some adversity today and managed to grind out a hard-fought road win," head coach Erin Sullivan said. "It was a typically combative NESCAC game, and we created some excellent chances. But it's early and we have a lot of work to do as our team learns how to control tempo and close out games more effectively."
On Wednesday, the men will travel to Troy, NY to face Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at 7:30 p.m.