BRUNSWICK, Maine - Bowdoin junior Call Nichols converted on a penalty kick with under 23 minutes remaining to lift the Polar Bears to a 2-1 victory over Wesleyan in a NESCAC Men's Soccer Semifinal on Saturday afternoon. The Polar Bears (13-1-2) advance to the championship game against Middlebury on Sunday at noon. Wesleyan, who played in an astounding 15 one-goal games this season, ends their year with a record of 8-8.
It was the Cardinals who jumped ahead early on Saturday, as the Ian Waldron played a through-ball to Will Mithoefer on the right side of the box just 14 minutes into the game. Mithoefer tucked a neatly-placed shot inside the near-post for a 1-0 Cardinals lead at 14:04, putting the Polar Bears behind on the scoreboard for the first time since they trailed 1-0 to Babson in the first half of a game on October 11.
Bowdoin was able to rebound just moments before the half, as Michael Gale took control of the ball at the top of the box and ripped a shot that deflected off a Wesleyan defender. The ball re-directed past helpless Wesleyan netminder Adam Purdy with just 40 seconds remaining in the period.
The Polar Bears, who held a 9-2 advantage in shots in the second half, finally cashed in with the go-ahead tally in the 68th minute. A Wesleyan handball in the box resulted in a penalty kick for the Polar Bears. Junior defender Call Nichols coolly stepped up and ripped a shot the top-right corner to give Bowdoin the lead with 22:48 to go.
Dan Hicks made a pair of saves to earn the win for Bowdoin. Purdy stopped six in the loss for Wesleyan.
The Polar Bears will be searching for their first-ever NESCAC Championship on Sunday in their second-ever appearance in the conference final. Bowdoin, who has won a school-record 12-straight games, suffered a 1-0 loss to Williams in the 2003 championship. Their opponent, Middlebury, is the only team to defeat the Polar Bears this season, earning a 2-0 victory on September 25.
Photos courtesy of Brian Beard and Creative Images Photography.
Middlebury 2, Amherst 0
BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Middlebury College men's soccer team advanced to their fifth-straight NESCAC Championship game with a 2-0 win over Amherst in a conference semifinal played at Bowdoin College on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers improve to 13-3-0 and will look to capture the program's third NESCAC title when they battle the host Polar Bears on Sunday at noon. Amherst will hope for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid after falling to 11-2-3 with the setback.
The Panthers used a goal in each half to put away the Jeffs. After a scoreless opening half-hour, Middlebury's Jake Edwards fed Tyler Macnee with a free kick. Macnee gathered the ball in the box, turned and blasted a shot that ricocheted off an Amherst defender and spun into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead at 33:20. Middlebury doubled their lead in the second period when a nifty cross from Rob Cole found a streaking Otis Pitney for a header at 63:10.
That proved to be all Panther goaltender Tim Cahill would need, as the junior netminder stopped five shots in the victory. Amherst's Lennard Kovacs made a pair of saves in the loss for the Jeffs, who saw their six-game win streak stopped. Amherst's only two losses this season have come at the hands of Middlebury.
The Panthers defeated their NESCAC Championship Game foe Bowdoin on September 25, 2-0, and won the conference crown in both 2000 and 2007.