Amherst Battles to 1-1 Tie at No. 4 Williams

Ian Rothkopf scored Amherst's goal in
today's 1-1 (2OT) tie at No. 4 Williams.

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – The top two teams in New England took the field on the campus of Williams College this afternoon as the Amherst College men’s soccer team traveled to take on their NESCAC and Little Three archrivals in conference action.  The Ephs out-shot the Lord Jeffs 14-10 overall, but after 110 minutes of play the two sides settled to a 1-1 draw.

In the third minute of play, Amherst sophomore Alejandro Sucre (Caracas, Venezuela) found the end of a free kick from rookie Julien Aoyama (Nasberth, PA) in the six-yard box. Sucre’s header had enough power to create a problem for the Williams defense, but an Eph defender was able to clear the ball out of danger.

Ten minutes into the game Amherst sophomore points-leader Spencer Noon (Farmington, CT) nearly drew first blood for the Lord Jeffs. After a long cross by senior tri-captain Chris Skayne (Boxborough, MA), Aoyama headed the ball back across the goal mouth for Noon to run on to. Noon’s half-volley under pressure from just five yards out flew over the Williams crossbar for a goal kick.

With just over 26 minutes to play before the break, the Ephs nearly scored the opening goal of the game as a corner kick slipped through the hands of Amherst goalie Lennard Kovacs (Wolfersdorf, Germany). The loose ball came down inches off the goal line, but Skayne was there to head the ball out of danger before a Williams player could push it home.

In the 26th minute, Amherst turned a Williams giveaway in midfield into a break for Noon coming across the 18-yard box. Noon’s left-footed shot was smothered by Eph goalie Peter Morrell to keep the game scoreless.

Three minutes later the Amherst attack broke through. Thebe Tsatsimpe (Johannesburg, S. Africa) played a beautiful ball to James Mooney (Princeton, NJ) down the right side of the box. After using his first touch to turn the corner, Mooney drove a hard pass across the goal mouth where senior tri-captain Ian Rothkopf (Harvard, MA) finished at the far post.

With just 6:36 remaining in the first half, Williams tied the game 1-1 on a great goal from Patrick Ebobisse. After bringing the ball up the right wing, the Ephs moved the ball across to Ebobisse. The Eph winger put the ball on his right foot and bent a well-placed shot into the far side netting past a diving Kovacs.

Early in the second half, Williams substitute Dan Lima picked the ball off the foot of Amherst tri-captain Mark Crane on his first touch after entering the game. Lima broke in on Kovacs with Crane nipping at his heels, but his shot sailed just over the right upper corner.

The pace of play settled down through the middle of the second half, with both teams trying to find a balance of searching to score a game-winner without opening up too much for the opposition. In the final seconds of regulation, Williams had a corner kick that resulted in a long lofted shot at the end. The ball fell on top of the Amherst net with just three seconds to play, sending the game into overtime tied 1-1.

With two minutes to play in the first overtime, another Amherst turnover nearly cost the Jeffs the game. Williams winger Charles Romero took the ball down the right wing and all the way into the box before lashing a shot just wide of the far post.

One minute later, a long free kick by Crane was headed on frame by Sucre. Only a diving save from Morrell was the difference between the ball sneaking under the crossbar and the shot being pushed off the frame for a corner.

In the second overtime, both teams had close scoring chances but came up empty-handed. Kovacs finished the day with just one save, while Morrell made a pair of stops in the result for Williams. Amherst will return to action on Wednesday at home against Husson at 7 p.m. on Gooding Field.