October 3, 2013
With a strike into the far corner of the goal in the fifty-second minute, Trevor Bobola ’15 gave the Continentals a 1-0 lead over Wesleyan in the men’s soccer game last Saturday. After struggling in the first half and allowing Wesleyan to control the pace of the game, the Continentals reentered play ready to strike.
As Sampson Reider ’14 explained, “The first half we were just getting hammered. We reorganized at halftime and pressed a little higher. First 15 minutes of the second half, we had the ball the whole time and finally [Bobola] put one away.”
Hamilton set up the goal with pressure from the left side before Griffin Abbott ’15 sent a cross through traffic and towards Bobola. Hamilton’s sixth shot of the game gave them the lead for good as the defense put together another shutout.
In the first half, Wesleyan controlled the pace, shooting five times, but failing to score. Hamilton’s defense attempted to contain the Cardinals, but ended up getting a few lucky breaks to avoid allowing a goal. After reorganizing in the locker room, Hamilton came out on top in the second half, dominating the field for all 45 minutes and scoring the only goal. On defense, the Continentals held Wesleyan to only three second-half shots, keeping the ball well away from their defensive third. Goalie Freddy Porges ’14 finished with three saves, and Buck Reynolds ’15 and Ethan Kelly ’14 continued their solid play in the back.
While the Continentals have had their struggles on offense, the defense has always been there, allowing only five goals over six games on the season. “We’ve been playing pretty well all year. Before we played Conn College, we didn’t really feel challenged. Having Buck Reynolds and Ethan back there, they’ve been solid all year. On the sides we’ve been in and out with injuries, but people have stepped up and everything seems to work,” Reider said.
The offense, on the other hand, has steadily improved over the course of the season. After failing to score against Trinity, Bates and SUNY IT, they put away two goals against Conn College and one this weekend. “The big change has been confidence,” Bobola explained. “The first few games we didn’t score, but locked down on defense and we finally got a few. We’ve been shooting around more in practice which helped us.”
With the win, Hamilton improved to 2-2-2 in the season, 1-1-2 in the NESCAC. This places them seventh in a tightly packed conference, only five points behind second place Trinity. The Continentals have hit their stride at the right time as they still have a number of games left to make up ground before NESCAC playoffs.
They face a tough test this weekend, as Amherst (7-0-1, 5-0-1 NESCAC) will travel to Hamilton for a 2:30 p.m. game on Saturday, Oct. 5. With a number of smaller injuries, the Continentals hope to have all their players back and ready to play on Saturday. “We have a whole week to prepare, which is rare. If we can get everybody healthy, we should be ready,” Bobola said.
With several different styles of play in the NESCAC, the Continentals’ strategy changes slightly every week. While they attacked Wesleyan successfully with long balls, they will try more short passes against Amherst on Saturday. “We had to play more long balls in the last game,” said Reider. “Usually we try to possess the ball and string passes together, but against Wesleyan, they have a good shape and clog things up the middle and make it hard to play.” Therefore, the Conts looked to relieve pressure and play balls in behind them. “This week, we’ll try to get back to possessing the ball better,” added Reider. “Amherst tries to control the game and just run at you. They have really big, fast forwards. They’re really athletic. It’ll be interesting to see what Coach comes up with to prepare us for that.”