Williams ties rival Amherst 1-1 in home opener

Malcolm Singleton '18
Malcolm Singleton '18

WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS.- On a hot and sunny day at Cole Field, Williams men's soccer (3-1-1, 2-1-1 in the NESCAC) tied the Amherst College Mammoths (1-1-1, 1-1-1 in the NESCAC) 1-1 in a fast and often physical rivalry match. In the 16th minute, Malcolm Singleton '19 scored for the Ephs. The visitors equalized at 50:53 when Cutler Coleman headed a corner kick from Gabe Gitler just above Williams goalkeeper Bobby Schneiderman '18.

Both teams had lots of energy from the outset, and the starters received encouragement from the sidelines. The Eph back line made several important plays as co-captain Tobias Muellers '18 headed a dangerous service downfield, and Scatt MacDonald '19 won the ball and sent a clear deep into Mammoth territory. Chris Fleischer '21 also tried a distance shot from about 10 yards behind the 18, but his bending attempt went just high.

After a series of low clears between the opposing defenses, Amherst created several offensive opportunities. Jimmy McMillain repeatedly displayed his speed and sharp dribbling skills on the right flank. The Mammoths earned a corner kick, but the Ephs quickly sent the ball out of the box. They also had two through ball chances, but Schneiderman kicked the first away, and Milan Jones '18 raced to interrupt the second.

In the 15th minute, the Ephs received a free kick on the left wing, just in front of the midfield line. MacDonald launched the ball into the box, where Amherst goalkeeper Lee Owen got a hand on it before it was driven out-of-bounds. Andrew Mathew '20, whose long throw-in is a valuable offensive weapon for the Ephs, came forward to take the throw. He hurled the ball into the box, where it bounced around the six-yard line until Singleton drove it into the back of the net with a powerful finish to put the Ephs up 1-0.

Each side had some solid, strategic passing sequences as the half continued. Both goaltenders also blocked set piece opportunities. At 23:30, Amherst received a free kick near midfield and switched the ball before sending it into the box, but Schneiderman stepped up and secured it. A minute later, when Williams was awarded a free kick from a similar position, Owen also handled it with ease.  

Amherst threatened throughout the remainder of the first half. They earned two corner kicks, and Bryce Johnson's strong handspring throw-ins helped the Mammoths penetrate the box. After a hand ball, they had a free kick from just outside of the 18, but Kyle Brady '20 headed the ball away and hustled down the left flank. Williams almost capitalized on the counter when Brady switched the ball to Demian Gass '20, who kicked it forward to the six, but Owen grabbed it.

The Mammoths had another free kick chance at 4:57, but the distance shot went just wide. During the final seconds of the first half, Mathew went forward for another long throw-in, and Nick Ranieri '21 attempted a desperate distance shot that went high as the whistle blew. Williams outshot Amherst 5-3 in the first half, and the Ephs committed 10 fouls while the Mammoths registered eight.

There was lots of back-and-forth when play resumed as both seems played with evident urgency but not much control. In the 53rd minute, the Mammoths earned a corner kick, and Coleman scored with a well-placed header to tie the game. They received several more free kicks in the following minutes. One ricocheted off of the wall, another bounced off of the right post, and the third slid through a crowded box and was eventually managed by Schneideran. 

After about 15 minutes, the game settled down, and the Ephs began to generate offensive chances. Singleton, Fleischer, and Bobby Fabricant '20 had a good passing sequence, but Singleton's shot was saved by Kofi Hope-Gund, who replaced Owen at the break. Mathew made a great run and poked the ball forward to Mark Sisco-Tolomeo '18, who dribbled throughout the box but could only manage a weak shot, which Hope-Gund handled easily. Eli Petrik '21 nearly scored from a difficult angle after a three-on-two play, but his shot went past the post. Additionally, Jones continued to neutralize talented Amherst midfielders along the right flank.

The game became increasingly physical in the last 30 minutes of the second half. Although the referees tried to avoid disrupting the rhythm of play, both teams received lots of free kicks. In the 70th minute, Aziz Khan nearly scored with a header, but Schneiderman leapt sideways and stretched out to make an impressive save. Williams nearly took the lead several minutes later with a low, powerful free kick shot that avoided a six-man wall but went just wide. 

Toward the end of regulation, both teams made frantic scoring attempts. Khan had another good shot that hit the post, and a Liam Bardong '19 header went just right of the net. In the final 15 minutes, Amherst committed four fouls, and Williams had three. Despite the free kicks, neither team could score, and the game extended into extra time.

In the first of two 10-minute sudden death overtimes, both sides tried to send long clears downfield, hoping their offenses would capitalize. Although Amherst recorded five shots, they could not convert. Williams did not post a shot, but Singleton showed off expert dribbling technique, and Petrik and Sisco-Tolomeo had a nice give-and-go play during the period.

The Ephs had more chances during double overtime as they earned a free kick and corner kick and possessed better. With just over a minute remaining in the contest, Amherst also received a corner and sent all of their players forward. The ball slid through the box to Dane Lind, but his shot went wide. Eric Hirsch '19 then tried a last-second shot that sailed high, so the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Amherst led 17 to 14 in shots, and 11 to two in corner kicks. The Mammoths had 19 fouls while the Ephs had 23, and both teams were given three yellow cards.

Head Coach Erin Sullivan reflected on the game.  "Frankly, I'm disappointed," he said. "To have the lead on our home field and not close out is frustrating. Once the game went 1-1, we didn't assert ourselves, so I'm hoping for a more forceful performance tomorrow."

Tomorrow, the men will host Bates at 1:00 p.m. 

Williams falls to Tufts 1-0
October 21, 2017 Williams falls to Tufts 1-0