BRUNSWICK, ME--The cardiac cows have struck again.
A late double-overtime goal from Chris Seitz gave No. 17 Williams men's soccer a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Bowdoin Polar Bears at Pickard Field on Sunday. The win extended the Ephs unbeaten streak to start the season to nine games (7-0-2, 5-0-2 NESCAC) and snapped Bowdoin's own eight-game unbeaten streak. The Polar Bears are now 7-2-1 (3-2-1 NESCAC) and sit in sixth place in the conference, which Williams currently leads.
This was the third consecutive overtime game that the Ephs have played, and the fifth overall. Given their 3-0-2 record in such contests, it would appear that drama suits this squad, even if Coach Mike Russo would just as soon avoid the extra period whenever possible.
"I remember some time ago we had something like eight overtime games in a season. I'm hoping we don't go that way this year," said Russo.
It took a bizarre ending to help the Ephs pick up the victory in this one. After an Eph counter-attack culminated in a deflected shot that seemed destined to go out of bounds for a corner kick, a Bowdoin fullback elected to clear the ball off the touchline and into traffic in the box. After momentarily disappearing into the mob, the ball bounced off of Seitz and into the goal.
Seitz received credit for his first shot on goal of the season and became the ninth Eph to find the back of the net in 2012.
The drama was necessary thanks in part to a sluggish start for the Ephs, who fell behind for the first time since a season-opening win over Westfield State when a defensive snafu enabled Andrew Jones of Bowdoin to take over possession on the left flank. Jones slid a pass to Zach Danssaert, whose one-timer found the back of the net at 12:04 of the first half. The goal snapped a Williams shutout streak that had stretched on for almost five full games and nearly 500 minutes.
The confusion may have resulted at least in part to a number of lineup changes for the Ephs, whose usual starting XI was worn out after yesterday's tough scoreless tie against No. 2 Amherst. All the new starters played well, excluding the early mishap, leaving Russo pleased with his team's depth.
Despite the early setback, the Ephs showed a resiliency and tenacity that has come to define this year's team and found an equalizer just before the half-hour mark. The goal came courtesy of Williams' speed up top, as freshman sensation Mohammed Rashid's pass off a break found User Kushaina, who slid the ball just inside the right post to even the score-line. The goal, Kushaina's third of the year, left him tied with the Rashid for the team lead on the year.
Williams got another shortly after halftime when Chris Conder found Kastner with a cross. Kastner perfectly executed a diving header for his second goal of the year, and the Ephs had a 2-1 lead in the 50th minute.
However, the Ephs could not make the lead stand up, and Bowdoin managed to knot the score in the 75th minute off a corner kick from Eric Goitia that floated through a mass of bodies and onto the head of Andrew Gray, who scored his third goal of the season.
The tally marked the first time all year that the Ephs allowed more than one goal in a game, a remarkable testament to the team's consistently staunch defensive play and the strong work of goaltending tandem Than Finan and Peter Morrell.
It also reflected the back and forth nature of the game, according to Russo.
"Bowdoin is a good team, but we're a good team too. They played well in spurts, and we played well in spurts."
The Polar Bears threatened repeatedly in both extra periods, but Morrell, a Brunswick, Maine native, was outstanding in net and made four saves after the 90th minute to keep things deadlocked. Overall, Morrell made seven saves to earn his fourth win in as many starts this season.
After a draining but highly successful weekend road trip, the Ephs will return home for some much-needed rest before facing off against Tufts on Saturday in another critical conference showdown. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., and if all goes according to Coach Russo's plan, it will be over by 3:15. Still, even he acknowledged that winning late has its advantages.
"The guys believe in themselves now, which is good. But we don't want to make it [overtime] a habit."