Men's Soccer Wins Fourth Straight

October 19, 2010

Sophomore Jon Portman netted his first career goal at 62:20 to give Middlebury College, ranked fifth nationally in Division III, a 2-1 victory over Wesleyan University in men's soccer action Tuesday afternoon. Middlebury improved to 11-1-0 overall and 6-1-0 in NESCAC play and has clinched a home game in the first round of the NESCAC Championship, while Wesleyan fell to 6-6-0 overall and 2-5-0 in NESCAC play.

Portman's goal came just one minute After Wesleyan had knotted the score at 1-1. Portman launched a rocket from 22 yards out that sailed past the outstretched arms of Wesleyan keeper Adam Purdy. The shot was Middlebury's only shot on goal of the second half, as Wesleyan held an 8-5 edge in shots during the period.

Wesleyan had tied the score at 61:14 on a goal by junior midfielder Zach Dixon. Wesleyan forward Noah Schlesinger was tripped by a Middlebury midfielder 20 yards out, giving Wesleyan a free kick from the left side. Dixon took the kick and sent the ball into the right side of the Middlebury net, snapping a Middlebury scoreless streak of 331:14. Middlebury had posted shutouts in its last three games, and the goal was only the third given up by the Panthers in 2010.

Middlebury had moved ahead 1-0 early in the first half. As both teams were jockeying for possession in front of the goal, the ball went to defender Otis Pitney, who was standing at the right post. Pitney sent a low, driving shot into the left side of the Wesleyan net at 6:18 for his fourth goal of the season.

Middlebury had plenty of other opportunities in the first half, as the Panthers held a commanding 11-3 edge in shots in the period. Middlebury nearly made it 2-0 in the 31st minute when Portman launched a shot at an open net with Purdy out of position, but Wesleyan defender Jacob Mergendoller stepped in and kicked the ball away at the goal line.

Wesleyan also had a great opportunity early in the second half. With 12 minutes gone in the period, sophomore Rory O'Neill launched a shot from the top of the box that hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced back out. Middlebury was able to clear the ball away before the Cardinals could attempt a follow-up shot.

Middlebury keeper Tim Cahill made a pair of saves in the Middlebury net. He now sports a 0.26 goals-against average and a 90.9 save percentage, as he began the week leading the NESCAC in both categories. Purdy finished with five stops for Wesleyan.

Middlebury has not lost at Wesleyan since 1996, as the Panthers are now 7-0-0 in their last seven games in Middletown. In the teams' most recent meeting last Nov. 7, Middlebury earned a 2-0 victory in the semifinals of the 2009 NESCAC Men's Soccer Championship at Wesleyan, avenging a 2-0 regular-season home loss to Wesleyan.

Both teams return to action on Saturday with conference match-ups as Wesleyan will host Amherst College, while Middlebury hosts Bates College. A win in that game would secure the top overall seed in the upcoming NESCAC Championship for the Panthers.