WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The Williams College men's soccer team (11-0-2) made an early goal by sophomore back Luke Pierce stand up as the Ephs defeated visiting RPI (9-4-4) 1-0 this afternoon on Cole Field.
With the win the Ephs extend their 2012 unbeaten skein to 13 and snapped an 8-game unbeaten run by RPI.
At 3:01 Luke Pierce beat RPI keeper Rob Dewald when he brought down a Zach Grady corner with his left foot, going left across the box. The touch gave Pierce a small window of opportunity and he rolled a shot back to the right side of the net with his left foot, notching the only goal of the contest.
Just over one minute later the Ephs almost doubled their lead when Zach Grady forced a turnover near midfield and raced in on goal to the right of RPI goalie Rob Dewald. Grady spotted first year forward Jon Westling on the right side of the box and fed him the ball. Westling , however, was unable to catch up to the ball in time to put a shot on the goal frame.R
RPI was not without chances to score as five minutes after the Pierce goal the Engineers' Ryan Gracy turned on a ball in the box and fired on goal, only to see his shot go into the chest of Eph netminder Peter Morrell.
RPI's Zack Fane looked to have a chance to level the score at 12:47 when he was momentarily free at the top of the box, but a lunge by the Ephs' Luke Pierce blocked Fane's shot sending the ball behind Fane creating a counter attack for the Ephs.
RPI threatened again at 14:36 when Matt Koziol's direct kick from 36 yards out to the left of Morrell went over the wall and was on net, but Morell was able to reach up and snare the ball.
The best scoring chance for the Ephs in the second half came at 53:15 on a diving header by Mike Madding off a deep cross from the left side by Chris Conder to far right post. Conder delivered the ball into the box and over the RPI backline, and Madding's header was on goal, but Dewald stopped it at the post.
An RPI corner at 65:45 by Joey Eilert on Morrell's right created some multiple touches for both teams and the play ended with RPI's Michael Birk launching a shot over the top of the goal from 17 yards out.
RPI's Tim Young picked off an Eph pass deep in the Williams defensive third with just under 20 minutes remaining, but his shot on goal went well over the cross bar.
In the 73rd minute RPI's Tim Young looked to be in position to take a quality shot on goal from inside the box off a bouncing ball, but the Ephs' Josh Miller-Lewis arrived just in time to block the shot out of the box and back into the midfield.
Pierce became the 14th Eph field player out of 23 on the roster to score this season. "Luke Pierce was the man of the match today," stated Eph head coach Mike Russo. "He's very courageous and tough in the air. He has filled in well for Matt Ratajczak in the back. I could not be happier with his performance. I thought he was the one player who stood out for us today."
On the day Eph keeper Peter Morrell made 3 saves, all in the first half, while RPI's Rob Dewald made two in each half. Morrell is now 6-0-0 on the year and has two shutouts. Dewald is now 8-3-3 on the year.
"Overall it was not a good performance for us, but if you asked me at the beginning of the year if I thought we would be 11-0-2 at this point I would have told you you were crazy," Russo commented.
"I just told the guys going to Maine and trying to come back after six hours on the bus was tough with the lactic acid build up, but we wanted to play them and this was the only date we could make work," noted Russo. "We appeared tired today and hopefully we got it out of our system."
Next up for the Ephs is the regular season finale on Wednesday afternoon when they host NESCAC foe Middlebury. RPI will next see action on Wednesday when they travel to play Keene State.