October 31, 2011


            Middlebury College men’s soccer coach David Saward won his 300th game, as the seventh-seeded Panthers knocked off second-seeded Wesleyan 3-2 in a NESCAC Quarterfinal game on Saturday.

            Saward’s 300th win comes in his 27th season, with the Panther bench boss now owning a career mark of 300-97-47. Middlebury improves to 8-3-4 with the win, while Wesleyan, which entered the game ranked ninth nationally, suffered its second consecutive loss after starting the season 10-0-3.

            Middlebury went ahead for good in the 31st minute thanks to junior Matt Martin (Kenmore, Wash.). Senior Robbie Redmond (Morristown, N.J.) sent the ball to Martin along the left side of the box. Martin aimed a shot for the far post; Wesleyan keeper Adam Purdy leaped to his left, but the ball brushed off his fingertips and sailed in with 30:37 gone for Martin's second goal.

            Wesleyan had taken a 1-0 lead before the game was 10 minutes old. Zach Dixon took a pass about 30 yards out and launched a rocket that found the top-left corner of the net at 9:19 for his first goal of the season.

            Middlebury tied it in the 29th minute. Purdy made a diving stop on a shot by rookie Noah Goss-Woliner (Waitsfield, Vt.) but the rebound went to sophomore Graham Knisley (Wakefield, R.I.) on the right side. Knisley fired the ball into an open net at 28:59 as Purdy scrambled to get into position for his first goal of the year.

            The visitors appeared to ice the game in the 84th minute, as senior Martin Drolet (Lachine, Que.) beat Purdy one-on-one and scored with 6:57 left for his team-high sixth goal. Wesleyan answered just 29 seconds later, with another goal from Dixon. Middlebury senior keeper Tim Cahill (S. Glastonbury, Conn.) dove to punch the ball away from a sea of white jerseys in the box, but Dixon chipped it in from the 18-yard line to make it a 3-2 game.

            Wesleyan continued to apply the pressure but did not generate any dangerous opportunities the rest of the way. Cahill needed to make only one stop as the defense in front of him limited Wesleyan to five shots. Purdy finished with three saves for Wesleyan.

            The win continued a remarkable streak for Middlebury, as the Panthers have made it to the semifinal round in every NESCAC Championship, which began in 2000.

            On Wednesday, Middlebury and Williams battled through 110 minutes of scoreless soccer in the NESCAC regular season finale for both teams.

            Middlebury controlled the pace for much of regulation, owning an 11-1 shots advantage in the first half. The Panthers had an opportunity just four minutes into the game, but senior Tyler Macnee’s (Williston, Vt.) header missed just wide after a cross from Drolet. Another chance came on a free kick by junior Jack Freeman (Ridgewood, N.J.) in the eighth minute, with a header by senior Alex Colucci (Westfield, N.J.) and a flurry in the goal area being cleared away. Knisley was denied with a diving header in the 33rd minute, as Than Finan made a diving save.

            Scoreless into the second session, Middlebury continued to pressure, but could not get on the board. A shot by Martin in the 54th minute went wide, while junior Jon Portman’s (Fair Haven, N.J.) effort in the late minutes was stopped by Finan.

            Williams had an opportunity early in the first overtime as User Kushaina carried the ball into the box. Cahill came out to deny the chance as the ball was later cleared away by sophomore Tyler Smith (Pottersville, N.J.). The Panthers answered with a few chances in the overtime periods, but could not find the back of the net as they settled for a scoreless tie.

            Middlebury held a 19-6 advantage in shots, and a 13-2 margin in corner kicks. Cahill finished with three saves, while Finan had seven.
• Men’s soccer record: 8-3-4
• Up next: 11/5 @ Amherst –1:30 (NESCAC Semifinals), 11/6 – Championship – 12:00