Despite its best efforts, the men’s soccer team succumbed to a Williams offense that scored two goals in the second half in a 2-1 loss last weekend. Though the Cardinals notched the only score of the first half, the Ephs came back and found the net in the 55th and 62nd minutes of the game.
“We dominated possession and good chances in the first half,” Matt Lynch ’15 wrote in an email to The Argus. “[Williams’] back four were not very fast, and we did our best to exploit this weakness.”
The Cardinals exploited their opponents’ weak spots immediately when midfielder Charlie Gruner ’17 set up forward Adam Cowie-Haskell ’18 with a pass that placed Cowie-Haskell past the last Williams defender in the first minutes of the match.
“We came out strong in the beginning of the first half, pressuring well on defense and keeping the ball mostly in their half,” Gruner wrote in an email to The Argus. “We connected a few good passes that opened up some space between their midfield and backs. Adam made a good run behind their center back and then finished the breakaway calmly.”
Cowie-Haskell now leads the team in goals, having notched his third of the season. The Cardinals took their lead into the second period, but the Ephs quickly responded with force.
“Both [Williams] goals were good whipped balls into the box and we just lost our runners,” Gruner wrote.
Though Williams had three more total shots than Wesleyan’s eight, both teams posted three shots on goal. The Cardinals also earned six corner kicks to the Ephs’ one.
“We had some good chances,” Gruner wrote. “Not as many as the past few games but definitely enough to win a game.”
Though Saturday’s loss brought the Cards down to 6-3-2 overall and 4-2-0 in the NESCAC, they are still a top league competitor. Wesleyan is now fourth in the ’Cac standings behind a 5-2-0 Williams team; Tufts is second with a 5-0-2 league record. Amherst, up next on the Cardinals’ schedule, is first in the conference with a 6-0-2 record.
“Williams is a good team that works hard, which is always a hard combination to deal with,” Gruner wrote. “But I think I speak for the whole team when I say I like our chances if we get to see them again this year.”
Given the current conference standings, Wes has a good shot at facing the Ephs in the NESCAC tournament in November.
“We now need to work on competing until the final whistle blows, not just until the first half ends,” Lynch wrote. “If we see Williams again in the NESCAC Tourney, there will be no relaxed or comfortable nature in our play style. For every game we have yet to play, we will compete for 90-plus minutes.”
Wesleyan will be hosting the Lord Jeffs during Homecoming Weekend this Saturday at noon. Wesleyan has had a long, competitive streak against its Little Three rival. Overall, the Cardinals have a winning 38-35-19 record against Amherst, but their last win came in 2007. They hope to change that this year.
“We’ll be pushing ourselves harder than we ever have at practice this week,” Lynch wrote. “We’re going to be fired up for Amherst on Saturday.”