Williamstown, MA- On a bright sunny day in Western Massachusetts, the Williams Ephs relied on aggressiveness and speed to fight past the Bantams of Trinity in their first game of the 2016-17 season.
On the year, Williams starts out strong at 1-0 (1-0 NESCAC) while Trinity falls to 1-1 (0-1 NESCAC).
Williams coach Erin Sullivan seemed very pleased by his team's effort today, saying, "It's always good to open the season with a win on your home field, especially with some of the struggles we had last year...a little bit more of a killer instinct and commitment to finishing the game out."
Trinity came out of the gate looking very strong offensively, using quick and clean passes to establish themselves in Williams' half of the field. However, it didn't take long for the Ephs to wake up, and senior forward Mohammed Rashid led the charge with a sterling run through the final third of the pitch in the fourth minute and a lob shot that just missed the net.
Williams continued to gain confidence throughout the first half, and in the 13th minute, the Ephs took a corner and after a few seconds of scrambling around the net, junior forward Mark Sisco-Tolomeo gathered the ball and netted the first goal of the young season for Williams. The Ephs continued to ride this momentum, punctuating their first half with a breakaway opportunity by senior forward Malcolm Moutenot that was poached away via a heroic slide tackle by a Trinity defender in the 21st minute.
Trinity's first half was unfortunately punctuated by injuries as first senior midfielder Fernando Cuevo was removed from the game and junior midfielder Dan O'Neil was helped off the field. Thankfully, both returned for the second half, but for much of the first half, Trinity was battling without two of their most important starters. These injuries certainly reflect what was a definitively rough-and-tumble match. Both Williams and Trinity received yellow cards in the first half, and perhaps the most intense moment of the half came towards the end, when Rashid and Trinity goalie Mateo Zabala seemingly collided. Both seemed a little shaken up at first, but finished out the half without a substitution.
The second half was all about Williams. The Ephs started out fast and energetic, but were unable to harness this aggressiveness into many clear chances at the beginning of the half. This changed in the 51st minute, when senior midfielder JC Bahr de Stefano played a through ball to Rashid, who deked a defender and slotted the ball past the goalie for the second Eph goal. Williams continued to create solid opportunities throughout the rest of the match and the ball was consistently in Trinity's half. However, the Bantams started to stir offensively after Rashid's goal, and the last third of the match saw consistent challenges from the Trinity attackers, with seven shots in the last 40 minutes. Up until this point, Ephs goalie Christian Alcorn had not been challenged much, but he certainly proved his mettle, stopping an excellent look by freshman forward Henry Farr in the 65th minute and a header from freshman defender Michael Burns in the 87th minute, preserving his first clean sheet of the season.
On the day Eph goalie Christian Alcorn made four saves and Trinity netminder Mateo Zabala stopped two of four Eph shots on goal.
Tomorrow, Williams hosts Eastern Connecticut State at 3 p.m., while Trinity hosts Connecticut College on Wednesday at 4:30.