On Saturday and Sunday, a trip to the frigid north played out exactly as the Cardinals hoped as they wasted no opportunity and conceded no goals in their defeat of NESCAC foes Bates College and Colby College. Although the games were expected to go in Wesleyan’s favor, the wins provide a strong position with which to approach the rest of the year. Following the weekend action, the Cards currently stand at second place in the NESCAC with a conference record of 5-1-1, just behind Williams (5-0-2) and barely ahead of Amherst (4-0-1), with Amherst, Conn. College, and Trinity still left to play.
On Saturday in Lewiston, Maine, under threat of forecasted thunderstorms, the Cardinals flew out of the gate to an easy 2-0 lead over Bates and then played defensively over the course of the second half to ensure the win. The strikes came fast and furiously off the inspired play of two senior starters. The Cardinals opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Ian Waldron ’13 sent a beautifully timed cross into the box that found the head of Chris Kuehn ’13, who directed the ball just past the goalkeeper. The Cardinals immediately hopped back on the offensive, and after a short 12 minutes in which they continued to dominate the ball, they broke the Bobcat defense again. This time it was wing defender Spencer Tanaka ’15 who set up a scoring breakaway by winger Noah Schlesinger ’13, who deftly possessed in stride, and slotted the ball into the back of the net. Wesleyan played masterfully throughout the first half, and despite some lackadaisical play in the second, managed to secure its sixth shutout win of the year.
Colby faired only slightly better against the Cardinal machine, yet the result was the same. Wesleyan held yet another Maine opponent scoreless and emerged victorious by a score of 1-0. Colby managed to play more competitively than Bates had, allowing only seven Cardinal shots while sending five of their own towards goal. The differentiating factor came in the 31st minute as Chris Kafina ’16 one-timed a cross into the left corner of the net. The assist on the play went to Schlesinger, who made his mark on a Wes win for the second time in as many days. Adam Purdy ’13 posted his 31st career clean sheet as he once again stood strong in net in the win over Colby. While perhaps somewhat a product of one of the best defenses in the NESCAC, Purdy has proved himself year-in and year-out to be a stalwart rock in the back. He will have to continue his league-best form in order for the Cardinals to contend with the traditionally stacked NESCAC ranks come playoff time.
These latest victories raise the Cardinals’ win streak to four, and their clean sheet streak to five. Over the course of the year they have only let up three goals, which were spread over only two matches (a 2-1 loss to Tufts and a 1-1 draw at Framingham State). This stalwart defense returns to competition on Wednesday when it takes on Eastern Connecticut State University, which has proved itself to be a New England region powerhouse thus far. Through a blend of luck and prodigious skill, ECSU has jumped up to a 10-0-1 record and a #4 ranking in the region behind Amherst, Brandeis, and Williams.