After an insanely successful start to the season, the men’s varsity team set off on a road trip this past weekend (Saturday September 23rd and Sunday Saturday September 24th) to face Wesleyan University and WIlliams College. Hoping to extend their winning streak, the Bobcats set off to Wesleyan on Saturday.
Trying to meet some of their season goals, Coach Stewart Flaherty noted that “a long road trip serves as an excellent opportunity to spend quality time together”. This weekend was successful for the sophomores, because despite the loss, both Antonio Heredia ‘20 and Peder Bakken ‘20 had personal bests, scoring the first and second goals of their careers respectively. Wesleyan got up on the board first with a well-placed cross and a nice finish in the 16th minute of the game. Determined to even out the game, the Bobcats put in some hard work, and tied it up in a pretty celebratory fashion in the 36th minute. Heredia scored Bates’ first goal with a drive down center and a beautiful strike from 20 yards out. However, the game was not without mistakes, and in a frenzied attempt to get the ball out of a dangerous zone, Bates scored an own-goal in the 43rd minute, putting the Cardinals up 2-1. Frustrated, but focused, the ‘Cats matched up the score with a strategic goal shot by Bakken and assisted by Morgan Dewdney ‘19. A free kick provided the opportunity for Dewdney to place a great ball for Bakken, who, with a volley, found the net. This marked Bakken’s first goal of the season, and second of his career.
Unfortunately, this was not enough to keep the Cardinals at bay, with a goal landing in the 83rd minute, bringing Wesleyan up 3-1, and another goal at nearly the 90th minute, sealing the Bobcats’ fate. Although the team walked away with a loss, there were several great plays, and they found elements of which they can improve going forward.
“So far it has been nice to see the number of quality attacks we have put together, and if we had a sharper edge, we could have had more than the eight goals scored during the previous three games. It’s also pleasing to have six different players having all found the net so early in the season” said Coach Flaherty.
Building on that loss, the Bobcats went into Sunday’s game versus Williams fired up and ready to win. They knew it was going to be a tough game, as Williams is known for being a strong team, finishing third in the conference last year.
Bates got off to a striking start with star Nate Merchant ‘18 scoring just after the start in the fourth minute. A corner kick served up by Ben Lyons ‘19 was snatched by Captain PJ DiBenedetto ‘18 and after a misstep by a Williams defender, Merchant found the net with a one touch by the back post. The Eph’s fought hard to tie up the score, but the Bobcats put on a beautiful defensive game.
Nevertheless, Williams played well off a corner kick and got up on the board in the 16th minute. The rest of the game was an exhaustive defensive struggle. A highlight was definitely Robbie Montanaro ‘19’s goalkeeping as he recorded seven saves.
Bates almost walked away with a win in overtime: after only 34 seconds of play, Eric Opoku ‘20 had a strong shot on goal that was barely saved by the Williams keeper. The Bates defense showed tremendous resilience, and fended off the Ephs to walk away with a tie game.
“This is a great group of guys and we worked really hard this weekend” said keeper Owen Lindenfeldar ‘20 upon return. “Not the results we were looking for necessarily, but we have a great foundation to continue building on. I’m excited for what’s to come and I think the fans should be as well.”
The Bobcats face off against Trinity this Saturday September 30th at 2:00 p.m., back on home turf at Russell Field.