Courtesy of Williams College
A late strike from Sam White provided the final margin of victory as the Bowdoin men’s soccer team upset Williams in Saturday’s NESCAC quarterfinals at Cole Field by a 2-1 count. The win was the Polar Bears’ (9-6-1) first postseason victory over the Ephs (8-6-2) in six postseason matchups dating back to 1988, and earned them their second straight trip to the NESCAC semifinals.
After controlling play for much of the second half, White gave the Polar Bears their second, and decisive, lead of the day with a brilliant curling shot into the left corner from 25 yards out. The goal was White’s team-leading fifth of the season, and there was little that Williams goalie Christian Alcorn—or any goalie, for that matter—could have done to stop it.
Bowdoin earned its initial advantage early in the first half with a more opportunistic finish, as Nabil Odulate pounced on a wayward first touch from an Eph defender following a corner and ripped a shot into the side netting for his first goal of the year. Odulate’s goal, in addition to breaking the ice on the scoreboard, also gave the Polar Bears their first shot on goal of the game, a symptom of the tense but nervous stalemate to which both sides played in the opening 45 minutes.
The Ephs responded well following the goal, taking just over four minutes to generate an equalizer. Michael Madding began the play by sending a leading ball to the right wing for Malcolm Moutenot. There, the sophomore midfielder accelerated around a defender and drove straight to the goal line before sending a precise pass back across the goal mouth for Matt Muralles, who one-timed a shot straight over keeper Gus Van Siclen for his first goal in exactly seven weeks to draw Williams even.
From that point on, most of the game’s chances belonged to Bowdoin, thanks in no small part to the work done by speedy midfielder Hunter Miller and forward Connor Keefe deep in Williams territory. In all, the Polar Bears forced Alcorn to make four saves, including two exceptional back-to-back stops with six minutes left to play that kept the Ephs in the game.
For their part, though, the Ephs generated few chances despite controlling much of the conservative first half. Their best shot at an equalizer in the game’s waning moments came in the 83rd minute, when Van Siclen, who made two saves, failed to clearly handle Chris Seitz’s cross from near the right corner flag. But the Bowdoin netminder, aided by a fortuitous bounce off one of his teammates, gobbled up the loose ball before Muralles or Zach Grady could find it.
The Polar Bears will now face either Middlebury or Colby in the semifinals next Saturday, pending the outcome of the in-progress Amherst-Colby match. The Jeffs defeated Bowdoin in the conference semis last year by a 2-1 count.