WATERVILLE, ME—A slew of second-half goals propelled Colby's men's lacrosse team to its biggest-ever victory over Williams on Saturday afternoon, as the Mules (8-5, 4-5 NESCAC) won by a 17-9 count over the Ephs (8-5, 4-5 NESCAC). The two teams are now tied for seventh in the conference standings, and both have qualified for playoff spots on the strength of head-to-head victories over ninth-place Trinity.
For the No. 19 Ephs, the loss stretched their NESCAC losing streak to five games, with a nonconference win against Vassar earlier this week representing Williams' only victory in nearly a month—a surprising development for a team that began the year by winning its first seven games. "They're a good team," said Williams coach George McCormack on Colby. "I think morale [for us] is fine. We got out-executed."
Though the Ephs never led in the contest, they managed to keep pace with the Mules throughout most of the first two quarters, weathering long bouts of Colby possession and countering quickly and effectively. Bryson Gilbert-Bono got the Ephs on the board with a long shot midway through the first quarter to tie the score at one, setting off a goal-trading sequence between the two teams. Austin Sayre snuck out from behind his goal to find John Grimaldi across the crease for an easy finish, but moments later the Mules found themselves denied by a fine save from Eph keeper Dan Whittam and vulnerable on the counter, where Steven Kiesel finished to tie the score at two. Not to be outdone, Colby found the net once more with just seconds left to play in the quarter, as Sayre scooped a save by Whittam out of midair and fired it home to make the score 3-2 after one.
It was in the second quarter that the Mules began to pull away. A quick goal from Andy Grabowski temporarily drew the Ephs even once more, but Colby responded with a stretch of three goals in 70 seconds, each easier than the last, with Grimaldi finishing the run by stepping out from behind the net and stuffing a shot past Whittam. "They out-executed us as the game progressed and did a very nice job on faceoffs," said McCormack on the Mules' second quarter spurt.
Though Kiesel pulled a goal back by the Ephs by coolly burying an uncontested shot during a 6-on-4, the Mules answered right back, as top attacker Derek Youngman lobbed a perfect pass to the side of the net for Grimaldi, who completed a first-half hat trick.
Trailing by three at the break, the Ephs found their deficit doubled by the end of the third quarter. They conceded early and late, first allowing Sayre to pick up a goal on the Mules' first possession of the second half, then allowing another goal in the final ten seconds of a quarter, this time on a deke from Youngman, who managed to turn and fire over the heads of two defenders to stretch the score to 11-5. Michael Fahey scored the only goal of the quarter for the Ephs.
Riley Hoffman got the Ephs back on the board early in the fourth quarter to trim the deficit to 11-6, but his goal was quickly negated by a tally from Colby's Sam Wasserman. A goal from Kiesel was similarly canceled out by Austin Frank. Now it was 13-7, and the Mules, rallying for a final home hurrah on their Senior Day, put four more past Miles McCarthy, who entered in the fourth in relief of Whittam, to stretch the score out to 17-7 before Fahey and Grabowski scored a pair in the game's final minute.
The Ephs are now 10-6 all-time against Colby; entering the day, they had never lost to the Mules by more than two goals.
Williams will now conclude its regular season with a midweek match against second-place Middlebury, one of three potential first-round opponents for the Ephs. "It's a big rivalry for us, " said McCormack of the matchup, "a good chance to get back on track and get a NESCAC win."