Pascual-Leone Lifts Men's Soccer to Overtime Win Over Middlebury

Nico.jpgContact: Ben Badua


(Courtesy of Megan Robertson '15)

AMHERST, Mass. - Sophomore Nico Pascual-Leone netted the game winner 3:34 into overtime to lift the eighth-ranked Amherst men’s soccer team to a 2-1 comeback win over NESCAC rival Middlebury.

Moving to 2-0-0 (1-0-0 NESCAC) on the season, the Jeffs picked up their fifth-consecutive victory over the Panthers dating back to 2010.

Generating a solid chance less than 10 minutes into the game, Amherst’s Robert Gooden fired a shot just high. Continuing to go on the offensive, Pascual-Leone got his head on a ball in front of goal, but Middlebury netminder Ethan Collins ’14 got his hands on the try to snuff out the threat.

Hoping to turn the tide in the latter stages of the first half, Middlebury pushed forward, testing the Amherst defense with a Graham Knisley ’14 header. Tracking down the rebound, Harper Williams ’15 tried to foot it toward net, but the Jeff backline blocked down the attempt to momentarily keep the Panther attack at bay.

Winning a set piece from a dangerous position, Middlebury finally broke through just before the half. Serving the ball to the edge of the 18-yard box, the Panthers drew a foul and earned a penalty-kick. Taking advantage, Williams slotted the try past goalie Thomas Bull ’15 to put the visitors on the board.

Looking to change the momentum at the start of the second, Brendan Caslin ’14 ripped an early try just wide. With under 35 minutes to play, Pascual-Leone and senior Ben Norton ’14 each narrowly missed on an opportunity to knot things up with a pair of headers that just veered off target.

Continuing to apply pressure, Amherst got its equalizer on a Greg Singer ’16 goal at 63:58. Playing a long ball forward, Bull found Pascual-Leone, who headed the ball into Singer’s path. Striking the volley, the sophomore ripped a low shot into the left corner to suddenly pull the Jeffs level.

With neither team able to gain any traction over the final 26-plus minutes of regulation the game headed into overtime. Starting to dictate the play in what had been a physical match, Amherst won a pair of corner kicks in the opening minutes of the extra session.

Playing the ball into the attacking third with a long throw, Max Fikke ’14 linked up with Norton, who flicked it on to the far post. Coming up the right wing, Pascual-Leone corralled the ball inside the six-yard box, hammering home the go-ahead goal past the arms of a diving Collins to seal the win.

Amherst finished with a decisive 19-7 shot advantage and a 12-2 edge in corner kicks. Bull had two saves in 93:34 minutes of action to improve to 2-0-0, while Collins finished with three stops.

The Jeffs return to the pitch on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at Curry College.