BABSON PARK, MA -- A fast and furious first half saw the Williams College men's soccer team (3-1-0) jump out to a 4-0 lead over Babson College (5-2-0) that would prove to be insurmountable as the game finished 4-2 in favor of Williams at Hartwell-Roger Field on Sunday.
The damage was done early when an Eph was brought down inside the Beaver penalty area in the second minute. Junior Matt Muralles made no mistake putting the ball past senior Beaver goalkeeper Jackson Klein from the penalty spot for his second goal of the season.
It was a mere four minutes later when the Ephs struck again. Sophomore Jonathan Westling showed some good skill down the right flank and whipped the ball across the face of the goal, where freshman Patrick Gordon was waiting to finish from pointblank range into the bottom-right side of the net. Gordon's second goal of the season put the Ephs up 2-0 inside six minutes.
After the second goal, the flow of the game evened out a great deal. Babson had their first good chance of the game in the 21st minute as they countered a Williams corner and forced a smart save out of senior Eph keeper Peter Morrell.
Some concern came for the Ephs six minutes later when Matt Muralles appeared to pick up an injury. He was immediately subbed off the field and did not return to the game. After the game Coach Russo cleared up the situation: "Mattie is fine. We had the lead, and I saw no reason to risk him."
Nevertheless, good play from the Ephs continued into the 31st minute when senior User Kushaina increased Williams' lead to three over the Beavers. The Beavers had just recovered the ball at the top of their own penalty area when an errant pass was picked off by Kushaina. He took two touches to free himself some space before he fired home a beautiful shot into the bottom-left corner of the goal. It was Kushaina's first goal of the season.
Eight minutes later it looked as if Babson would pull a goal back through senior Dillon Ventura. Ventura advanced up the right flank into the Williams penalty area, cut inside onto his left foot, and struck a screamer toward Morrell's goal that somehow just skimmed over the crossbar.
The Ephs took advantage of the Beavers' missed opportunity as they applied pressure once again to the Beaver defensive line two minutes later in the 41st minute. This time it was junior Chris Conderwho advanced up the left wing and crossed the ball onto the back post where senior Matt Kastner's head was waiting to bury the ball into the right side-netting of the goal. Kastner's first goal of the season put the Ephs out in front 4-0 near the end of the first half
The Beavers, however, did pull a goal back before the break through senior Kevin Israel. Ventura slid a ball into Israel who put the ball past Morrell with just over forty seconds left in the first half.
Inspired by their goal at the end of the first half, the Beavers came out very aggressively. Less than two minutes into the second half, Ventura committed a very hard foul as he tried to win the ball, resulting in the first yellow card of the game. Six minutes later, Beaver junior Patrick Ellis, joined Ventura in the book for another hard foul on an Eph while trying to win the ball.
The Beavers' increased pressure began to create chances starting in the 62nd minute, when a long throw-in floated into the box and found the foot of Ventura, but the shot was saved well by Morrell.
The Beavers pressure continued only minutes later when the Ephs found themselves in a compromised position after they conceded a free kick only 23 yards away from their own goal. The ensuing free kick, however, was blocked nicely by the wall. The rebound was collected by Israel on the right side of the penalty area. His proceeding shot crashed into Morrell's right goalpost before being cleared by the Ephs.
It looked as if the game would end without any additions to the scoreline, but the Beavers found another consolation goal in the final minute of the game. Some more strong play between Ventura and Israel resulted in a cross from the right wing into the box where junior David Abers was able to head the ball past freshly subbed-on junior goalie Andrew Bravo.
After the game Coach Russo noted the improved finishing of the Ephs today: "I think today we were more composed than we have been in the first several games, and that comes from getting games under our belt and building confidence."
The number of shots and shots on goal were even for the game at 18 apiece with 8 on goal each. Williams had three corners to Babson's four. Morrell made six saves while Klein made four, and Ventura and Ellis were joined in the book by fellow teammate Bryan Rust late in the second half.
Babson next plays at noon on Saturday away against the Coast Guard Academy. Williams plays arch rival Amherst College also at noon on Saturday.
When talking about next week's Amherst game, Coach Russo said, "We will be ready. We obviously gained a lot of confidence today with a strong performance, and we have [Amherst] at home, which is a huge help. They're a tough team, but we'll be ready."