Clinton, NY- What a time to score your first career goal. With home field advantage in the NESCAC conference tournament on the line, Williams freshman Chris Fleischer notched the Golden Goal in a 2-1 overtime victory over Hamilton.
Williams' record moves to 8-2-3 (5-2-1 NESCAC), while Hamilton's record stands at 6-6-1 (4-4-1 NESCAC).
As mentioned previously, the significance of this match for both squads could not be overstated, and the intensity was high from the very start. Within the first minute of the match, Williams moved deep into Hamilton's half of the pitch, creating an excellent chance when Greg Andreou passed backwards out of a trap to Sean Dory, who rocketed a shot high above the net.
Hamilton would soon respond with their own attempt in the 10th minute from Aidan Wood, who gathered the ball in transition and fired it wide right. However, Williams landed the first big blow of the match several minutes later in the 12th minute, when Sean Dory headed a throw-in from JC Bahr de Stefano off the outstretched fingers of Continentals goalie Harris Pollack and into the top left corner of the net for the first goal of the match. This deficit seemingly woke Hamilton's offense up for good, as they recorded four shots in the next 15 minutes, three of them on goal, constantly challenging Eph netminder Christian Alcorn and his back line defenders. This attacking efficiency would soon pay off for the Continentals, and in the 27th minute, Quinn O'Malley's shot was deflected, but there to collect the rebound was Mike Lubelczyk, who tipped the ball past Alcorn for his fourth goal of the season, retying the match at one. The rest of the half saw improved defensive play, with no shots on goal recorded for the remaining 18 minutes, and the teams headed into halftime tied at one.
The strong defensive effort also permeated the start of the second half, as there was only one shot on goal recorded through the first 20 minutes. However, Williams had an excellent opportunity in the 54th minute, as the two-man game of Malcolm Singleton and Mark Sisco-Tolomeo quickly progressed down the field. When they arrived right in front of the net, Singleton passed, but this assist was intercepted by a heroic slide kick by Continental defender Luke Eckels, who cleared the ball over the net and out of the danger zone.
Singleton would get another chance in the 66th minute right in front of the net, but it was saved by new Hamilton goalie Linds Cadwell, drawing a huge roar from the crowd. The rest of the half saw continued offensive attempts and runs down the field for both sides, but Eph and Continental defenders and goalies stepped up time and again to repel attacks in this must-win match, which soon entered a familiar zone for both squads: overtime.
Overtime was almost over before it started. In the 93rd minute, Lubelczyk got the ball very near the Williams goal, and was almost unmarked as he advanced with a chance to send the Ephs packing. Unfortunately, he hit it wide right, emitting gasps from all over Love Field as Williams was given new life, and the Ephs would certainly take advantage.
In the 99th minute, midfielder Eric Hirsch dispossessed a Continental, passed the ball up to Mohammad Rashid, and the two Ephs, along with Fleischer, traveled towards Cadwell. Right outside the 18, Rashid passed to Fleischer, who took several dribbles and slotted the ball into the net for his first career college goal, a game-winner at that.
After the match, Eph head coacn Erin Sullivan raved about that final play, saying, "Certainly not our best performance, but an important road result and three key points. Very proud of our poise on the final counterattack to win the match. Eric Hirsch made a massive defensive play at midfield, Rashid's precision final pass was clinical, and Chris Fleischer showed great composure in tucking away his first collegiate goal."
While Mohammad Rashid is a superstar for Williams, Hirsch and Fleischer are among those getting their first looks at extended playing time this year for the Ephs, and coach Sullivan was not surprised by the results of that final sequence, saying, "Chris and Eric have been in great form all season. With a deep senior-laden team it's difficult for young players to be patient, but our emphasis is always on the team concept and the depth and readiness of our squad. Both players put forth maximum effort every day and today was no different."
On the match, Alcorn recorded four saves, while Cadwell and Pollack each recorded two saves.
Williams travels across the state on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. match against Tufts, while Hamilton goes north to face Colby on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.