Brunswick, Maine- Sixth-seeded Williams lost to third-seeded Bowdoin in the NESCAC Quarterfinals this afternoon. The Polar Bears had defeated the Ephs 1-0 on Sept. 28, but the score was tied at 1 after double overtime today. The Polar Bears won the shootout 4-3, however, after Bowdoin goaltender Stevie Van Siclen made two crucial saves.
Both teams came out explosively at the beginning of a fast and physical playoff match. They pressured on offense and earned several set pieces. Bowdoin received a free kick about 35 yards from the net, but Williams goalkeeper Bobby Schneiderman '18 made an excellent play and punched it away in a crowded box. Van Siclen also had an impressive punch at the opposite end of the field after a shot from Malcolm Singleton '19 was deflected toward him.
In the 15th minute, Bowdoin midfielder Moctar Niang nearly scored with a header off of a free kick from Matty McColl, but his attempt went just wide. Chris Fleischer '20 had two scoring chances soon after. He sent a volley left of the goal then settled a well-placed pass from Bobby Fabricant '20 with his head on the next play, but his second shot also sailed left.
Both sides had opportunities from corner kicks late in the first half. Bowdoin midfielder Jake Steinquist headed a service wide right, and Williams co-captain Tobias Muellers '18 also sent a header wide of the net after receiving a cross from Nick Ranieri '21.
Williams attacked with renewed intensity in the final five minutes of the period. Eli Petrik '21 used his speed and remarkable footwork to penetrate the Polar Bear back line. Teo Pollini '20 also launched two headers toward goal off of corner kicks. The first hit the crossbar, and Van Siclen saved the second, so the game remained scoreless at halftime, however. The Ephs led 4-3 in shots and corners at the break.
Bowdoin started strongly in the second half. They earned several free kicks and corners and repeatedly threatened on offense. In the 54th minute, they converted as Levi Morant knocked a header into the back of the net after receiving a perfectly-placed corner kick from Ethan Ellsworth.
The deficit seemed to motivate the Ephs as they began to possess better. Muellers sent several smart passes forward, and Eric Hirsch '19 ran well along the right flank. Schneiderman made another great save under pressure to prevent Wilson MacMillan from doubling the Polar Bear lead.
This added to the Ephs' momentum, and they repeatedly challenged the Bowdoin defense with about 20 minutes remaining in regulation. Mark Sisco-Tolomeo earned a free kick approximately 10 yards behind the 18, and Ranieri sent a bending ball toward goal. Van Siclen punched it above the net, however. Petrik tried a shot after the corner, but it went high.
In the 78th minute, Sisco-Tolomeo headed a cross from Ranieri into the right corner of the net to tie the game. It was Sisco-Tolomeo's team-leading fourth goal of the season.
Both teams had chances to secure the victory toward the end of the second half. Niang sent a through ball to David Byrd, but his shot was deflected and saved. Petrik won the ball from Sam Ward deep in Bowdoin territory and tried a low shot that went wide left. Fleischer attempted a powerful shot from distance that also sailed wide. McMillan sent the ball across the goal after receiving a free kick at the back post, but neither side could convert, so the game went to sudden-death overtime.
The Polar Bears controlled the first overtime. On an early offensive play, Morant switched fields to a wide-open MacMillan, but he had a heavy first touch and sent his shot wide. He lobbed the ball toward the net again after receiving another strategic pass, but Schneiderman stepped out to make the save. Bowdoin midfielder Max McPherron also fired a shot from the 18 that went high. MacMillan then sent a through ball to CJ Masterson, who nearly got past the Eph defense. Scatt MacDonald '19 hustled back, however, and kicked the ball out of bounds. Liam Bardong '20 did post a shot for Williams near the end of the 10-minute period, and despite Bowdoin's dominance, neither team could score, so the game continued into double overtime.
The Ephs rebounded in the second overtime as Fleischer and Kyle Brady '20 attempted shots that were cleared away by Ward. Williams also earned a corner kick in the 106th minute, and Singleton won the ball on the right side. He launched a powerful shot toward the net, but Van Sinclen came up with another critical save to send the match to a penalty-kick shootout.
Ward, MacDonald, McColl, and Sisco-Tolomeo made the first four penalty shots. Schneiderman guessed correctly and dove to the lower-right corner of the net to save MacMillan's attempt, however. Ranieri then put the Ephs up 3-2, but Niang scored with a powerful ball to the upper-left side of the goal, and Van Siclen blocked Fabricant's shot to tie the tally at 3. Jason Oliver then scored for Bowdoin, and Van Siclen made another save on David Madding '18 to secure a 4-3 shootout victory for the Polar Bears.
Head Coach Erin Sullivan '96 was proud of his team's determination and resilience. "Today was a great college soccer game, and it's always disappointing to see matches like these end in a shootout," he said. "We're proud of our team's effort to fight back and level the match and then have the chances to win it. I think our preparation and mindset going into today's game was excellent so it only makes an outcome like this sting that much more."