Men’s Soccer Squeezes Past Midd
This past Saturday on Jackson Field, Wesleyan men’s soccer put together one of its best displays of total control football this year as it rolled past Middlebury 1-0. Though the score line is not the most impressive to date, the Cardinals exhibited strong possession, threatening chances, and another shutout by the defense to improve their record to 3-1-1 in conference and 5-1-2 overall. Meanwhile, Middlebury’s loss drops its conference record to 1-4 and its overall record to 3-4, a disappointing result for a talented team that is expected to contend for a playoff spot.
From the opening kick, Wesleyan controlled the pace of the game and gelled instantly. The Cardinals took four shots on target in the first half, and found the goal midway though the frame. In the 37th minute, winger Noah Schlesinger ’13 controlled the ball and made a run down the left flank before curling a bending cross through the top of the goal box. Onrushing winger Matt Hertgen ’15 rose to meet the ball, and headed it just out of reach of the Middlebury keeper to put Wesleyan in the driver’s seat on one of its prettiest goals of the year.
After Wesleyan scored, Middlebury never strung together a real run of possessions. While the shot totals make the game look as though it was relatively even (11-7 Wes), the on-target shot totals tell a different story (7-3 Wes). The even distribution of those shots across both halves shows that Wes continually applied pressure while looking for ways to inch in front, an approach that eventually met success.
Wesleyan Tri-Captain Adam Purdy ’13 only needed to make three saves to provide the Cardinals with a win. While a large part of this can be attributed to strong defensive play by the stellar work of back-line stalwarts Brandon Sousa ’16, Ben Bratt ’15, Spencer Tanaka ’15, and Tri-Captain Cabell Maddux ’13, even they did not need to thwart many attempts because Wes held possession for most of the game.
Saturday’s victory should provide the Cardinals with the mental boost necessary to win two potentially tricky games on the road. Though Bates and Colby are generally considered sub-average in the NESCAC, they have both notched impressive draws this season. Colby recorded a better result than Wesleyan against league number four Tufts when they held the Jumbos scoreless for a tie at Medford. Bates did the Mules one better by finishing with the same result against league number three Trinity at home in Lewiston. Based on these results, both teams could provide stiff competition for Wesleyan. The Cardinals travel to Bates on Saturday, Oct. 6, and Colby on Oct. 7.