WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- An impressive ensemble performance carried the Williams men's soccer team to a 3-0 win over Connecticut College at Cole Field on Sunday. The result lifted Williams to 5-0-1 (4-0-1 NESCAC), while the Camels fell to 1-2-2 (0-2-2 NESCAC).
After the game, Ephs coach Mike Russo credited the Camels for their aggressive early play:
"They came out and played hard and put us under pressure. But as the first half went on we got our rhythm a little bit, and the first goal made things tough for them."
The goal to which Russo alluded came just moments before the horn signaling the end of the first half sounded, and was of a rather unusual variety. The play began when Michael Madding's excellent dummy along the right sideline sprung forward User Kushaina deep into Connecticut territory. As he drew near the touchline, Kushaina sent a low cross into the box for Mohammed Rashid, only to see it deflected on goal by Camel fullback Michael Flippin. The unexpected redirection caught goalie Casey Marini moving the wrong way, and the Ephs, who until that point had yet to record a shot on goal, finally had the breakthrough that had eluded them in their previous match against Wesleyan.
"We knew it would be tough for them if we could get another [to start the second half]," said Russo.
Williams put the game away in the 69th minute. A sustained bout of pressure deep in the Camels' end yielded a corner kick, which was taken by Rashid. Rashid's high, looping cross found its way to the back post, where Noah Grumman sent a header into near corner to put the game out of reach. It was the first collegiate goal for the freshman, who had re-entered the game as a substitute seconds before the corner.
"I think they [the defense] have played extremely well," noted Russo. "Danny Lima has stepped up in a big way for us to provide leadership, but everyone's been very strong in the air. They're starting to understand how a back line is supposed to play, and they've become a strong force in the middle of the field."
What made the shutout even more impressive was that the Ephs were without senior captain Matt Ratajczak, who sat out with an injury sustained against Wesleyan. Russo expects that he will be ready to play when the Ephs take the field again; in the meantime, sophomore Luke Pierce has filled in ably.
After a weekend full of NESCAC action, each team will face a non-conference opponent next. The Ephs will remain at home to face Utica College next Saturday at 1:30 PM, while the Camels will return to New London to face UMass Dartmouth for their third game in five days.
Utica College is coached by former Eph goalie Eric Watson '97.