Williamstown, MA- In the last regular season game of their careers, the Williams senior class stood strong, as Mohammad Rashid and JC Bahr de Stefano each recorded goals, while Christian Alcorn kept his sixth clean sheet of the season as Williams defeated rival Middlebury 3-0 on a brisk Tuesday afternoon.
Williams finishes at 9-3-3 (6-3-1 NESCAC), while Middlebury's record also settles to 9-3-3 (4-3-3 NESCAC).
Eph head coach Erin Sullivan was excited for his seniors, and relied on their experience to overcome obstacles both today and throughout the season, saying, "Today's win was a gritty defensive effort and our most complete team performance of the season. Our seniors set the tone and elevated our intensity from the first whistle to the last."
It was an extremely cold day relative to previous matches, and as such, both teams took more time than normal to build up offensive momentum. However, once the attackers shook off the rust for Williams, they started to immediately make their mark. This was punctuated in the 24th minute, when Malcolm Moutenot planted himself to the immediate left of Middlebury goalie Greg Sydor and took a shot. Sydor deflected this, but it bounced right back to Moutenot, who used his top-notch soccer IQ to pass out of the corner to forward partner Mark Sisco-Tolomeo, who powered the ball into the empty net for his fifth goal of the season and the Ephs' first goal of the match. Middlebury had two on-goal shots towards the end of the half, but for the most part, neither team built up much of an offensive rhythm in the first 45. That would soon change for Williams.
It was immediately clear that Williams had adjusted to the sub 50s temperatures in the second half, as seemingly both the defense and the offense realized the stakes of this last regular season match and stepped their play up. The Ephs created a great chance in the 55th minute, when star forward Mohammad Rashid flew up the middle of the pitch, rocketing a shot that the goalie bobbled for a minute, but Sydor steadied himself and took control of the ball.
The Panthers also almost broke through in the 75th minute, when senior forward Greg Conrad hit a well-placed free kick, but Alcorn reacted instantly and soared across the length of the net to keep the lead and his final regular season clean sheet intact. This garnered excited shouts from the Eph bench, creating momentum for the 11 players on the field. Perhaps not coincidentally, Williams would soon put the game away.
In the 82nd minute, Rashid gathered the ball near midfield and flicked a near-perfect pass past all Middlebury defenders, landing directly on the right foot of Bahr de Stefano, who dribbled once and chipped the ball up and over Sydor for his second goal of the season. Less than a minute later, the Ephs would seal the deal, when Malcolm Singleton got the ball within the box and passed inside to his right for a waiting Rashid, who would put the Ephs' third goal on the board, making their last match of the regular season their highest scoring match.
With the NESCAC tournament looming this weekend, Sullivan does not want his squad to lose focus right now, saying, "We have to turn the page as we have all year and refocus on the next task in front of us. We're excited to attack the postseason and we have tremendous belief in the depth and desire of our squad."
On the match, both Alcorn and Sydor recorded four saves. Both teams have qualified for the NESCAC tournament, but seeding and schedule for those matches will be determined tomorrow evening.