Brunswick, ME—Morning fog was just beiginning to clear from the air when Williams (3-1, 2-1 NESCAC) took the field against Bowdoin (4-1, 2-1 NESCAC) this afternoon. Both teams were fresh off of wins from the previous day—the Ephs having defeated Colby 1-0 and the Polar Bears having beaten Wesleyan with the same score—and the second match of this double header weekend seemed destined to be a close fight.
Despite the teams' similar recent histories, Williams had the upper hand going in, as the team topped the conference leaderboard with 6 points. This lead was likely to be challenged by the Polar Bears, however, if the past can be indicator; last year's regular season match between these two teams ended with a 1-1 tie.
The Bowdoin team did, in fact, live up to this expectation of a challenge, topping Williams for the first time in three years and moving up to a tie for first in NESCAC with the Ephs.
For the first 10 minutes of the game, neither team could be said to have a clear upper hand. After several trips up and down the field, the first play for a goal was made by Williams senior Mark Sisco-Tolomeo with 35 :00 on the clock. The shot went over the goal, however, and Bowdoin rapidly took possession and sent the ball back across the field.
Within a minute, junior CJ Masterson was making his way towards the Williams goal, trailed closely by Eph defenders but skillfully evading them. When, for a moment, Eph defense seemed to have gained control, Masterson knocked the ball away from the opponents and swiftly took control of it again. The impressive play was soon brought to an end, however, when Masterson moved to the center of the penalty box and the Williams defenders promptly cleared the ball.
Both teams were gaining and losing offensive advantage throughout the remainder of the half, with several other strong goal attempts, but when the clock got down to around 10:00, the Bowdoin team seemed to turn up the gas. The Polar Bears had a few scoring opportunities in quick succession beginning in the 36th minute of play, but each shot narrowly missed making it to goal. Bowdoin sophomore Will Herman had a particularly exciting charge for the goal, but Williams senior Tobias Muellers protected the Eph net with an impressive clear.
The Polar Bears only had one more goal attempt—a wide header by Herman—before this offensive run was broken. Junior Scatt Macdonald of the Ephs had a corner kick with about 5 minutes of play left in the half, and from that point it was Williams' turn to put pressure on the goal. With 1:18 on the clock, the Ephs had a good opportunity to score with a throw-in deep in the Bowdoin defensive zone. Unfortunately for the Williams players, the ball was headed out by Bowdoin junior Jake Stenquist and successfully cleared by other Bowdoin defenders.
The half ended with no score on the board.
The Polar Bears came back strong in the second half, putting Williams immediately on the defensive. Just under two minutes in, Bowdoin senior Wilson Macmillian got his team's first shot on goal. Williams goalkeeper, senior Bobby Schneiderman, made the save down on one knee. Not too much later, the ball finally made it into the net 15 minutes after the start of the half. Herman broke away from the Williams players and made a pass to senior teammate Ethan Ellsworth. Though Eph defenders regained possession of the ball momentarily, it was soon back under Polar Bear control. Junior Matty Mcoll took a cross shot, which narrowly missed the goal and instead was deflected off the cross bar. Fortunately for Bowdoin, the ball deflected in the direction of first-year player Drake Byrd. Byrd sent the ball past Schneiderman and into the net, scoring the first point of the game, and his first goal in a collegiate match.
Though the Ephs put up a good fight, working for the offensive and putting up strong defense until the clock ran out, they were never able to make it onto the scoreboard. Schneiderman helped prevent Bowdoin from increasing their lead with consistent blocks and an impressive diving save in the goal. Bowdoin owned an 11-4 lead in shots and had a 5-3 edge in corner kicks overall.
Coach Erin Sullivan says of the loss, "We had too many unforced mistakes today. Credit Bowdoin for making it difficult for us to gain any rhythm but we can possess and create chances much better than we did today."
The Ephs will next be taking the field on Saturday at 2:00, facing rival Amherst for their first home game. Sullivan says both he and his players are "excited for the week ahead and the continued growth of this team."