Ephs and Panthers Play to 1-1 Draw

Ephs and Panthers Play to 1-1 Draw

MIDDLEBURY, VERMONT – In the 2nd minute of the second period of overtime, the Ephs won a free kick from the left side of the Panthers' box. Nick Boardman swung the ball into the penalty area, where Liam Bardong greeted it with a header that sent it into the back of the net. As he ran back to his teammates to celebrate, the referee sounded the whistle and called back play for a Williams foul that occurred prior to the goal. The disallowed goal saw the Williams Ephs and Middlebury Panthers remain deadlocked and finish the game in a 1-1 tie. With the tie, the Ephs finish the regular season with a record of (7-3-5, 5-2-3 NESCAC), while the Panthers finish at (7-2-6, 3-2-5 NESCAC).

The first major development in the game came in the 10th minute, when the Panthers' Drew Goulart took the ball up the left flank, then cut in at the edge of the pitch and sent a firm ground pass to teammate Brandon Reid. Reid, who was greeted by two Williams defender took a one time shot into the bottom right corner of the goal. Just as the Panthers started to celebrate, the referee blew the whistle and signalled that the goal was not valid, as Goulart had taken the ball inches out of bounds before making his pass. 

Williams' first opportunity came in the 29th minute, when Eli Petrick touched down the ball from a throw in and sent a quick through ball into the box, where Demian Gass was waiting. Gass received the ball, turned, and fired a shot at goal. Panther keeper Ryan Grady elevated to get a touch to the ball and push it up and out of his goal.

Overall, the first half saw little action, with most of the play centered in midfield. Williams only got 3 shots (2 on target) off and Middlebury only got 2 (1 on target) off. Each team only had one threatening opportunity in the half, and neither seemed to be taking control of the game.

As the second half started, the two sides looked more aggressive, taking the ball up the pitch and creating chances right from the start. In the 55th minute, the first goal of the game was scored. After Panther Ben Powers fouled Nick Boardman as he went up for a header, the Ephs won a free kick in at the edge of their own half. Andrew Mathew took the free kick, which he crossed launched into the box from jus over themidfield stripe. The ball, assisted by the wind, sailed into the box and into the goal, giving the Ephs the advantage. Keeper Ryan Grady jumped to block the shot, but with the chaos in the box, was unable to get a firm hand to the ball to keep it out of his net.

The Panthers responded in less than 10 minutes. In the 64th minute, Jacob LaBranche took a long throw in from the left side into the box. Michael McFarlane got a head to it and bumped it to the back post, where Brendan Barry sent a strong header to the bottom left corner. Eph keeper Michael Davis dove to his right and got a hand to the ball, but it still rolled into the net, making the two teams level once again.

The rest of the half saw the teams battling for the ball in midfield and attempting to break one another's defense. Ultimately, neither was able to put another in the back of the net, and the two teams went into overtime 1-1.

The two overtime periods saw little exciting action, aside from the disallowed goal in the 102nd minute of play. The teams finished level. After 110 minutes of play, the Ephs had recorded 14 shots (10 on target), while the Panthers had recorded 7 (4 on target). Eph keeper Michael Davis made 3 saves, while Panther keeper Ryan Grady made 9.

Eph head coach Sullivan reflected on the game: "We had some positive attacking moments today. Disappointing for sure to give up the lead but our team responded well in a lot of tough situations."

Williams, having finished in the top four, will host their quarterfinal NESCAC game at Cole Field this Saturday, November 2. "We had a strong month of October and we're excited, healthy, and ready for the postseason. All the matchups are touch in our conference tournament, so it's down to us preparing well to peak in November," Sullivan commented, looking forward to the postseason.