Men's Soccer Opens With OT Loss At Amherst

September 7, 2013

Nico Pascual-Leone netted the game winner 3:34 into overtime to lift the eighth-ranked Amherst (2-0, 1-0) to a 2-1 comeback win over Middlebury in the season-opener for the Panthers (0-1, 0-1). Middlebury returns to action on Wednesday at Norwich.

Generating a solid chance less than 10 minutes into the game, Amherst’s Robert Gooden fired a shot just high. Continuing to go on the offensive, Pascual-Leone got his head on the ball in front of the goal, but Middlebury netminder Ethan Collins got his hands on the try to snuff out the threat.

Hoping to turn the tide in the latter stages of the first half, Middlebury pushed forward, testing the Amherst defense with a Graham Knisley header. Tracking down the rebound, Harper Williams tried to foot it towards the net, but the Jeff backline blocked down the attempt to momentarily keep the Panther attack at bay.

Winning a set piece from a dangerous position, Middlebury finally broke through just before the half. Serving the ball to the edge of the 18-yard box, the Panthers drew a foul and earned a penalty-kick. Taking advantage, Williams slotted the try past goalie Thomas Bull to put the visitors on the board.

Looking to change the momentum at the start of the second, Brendan Caslin ripped an early try just wide. With under 35 minutes to play, Pascual-Leone and senior Ben Norton each narrowly missed on an opportunity to knot things up with a pair of headers that just veered off target.

Continuing to apply pressure, Amherst got its equalizer on a Greg Singer goal at 63:58. Playing a long ball forward, Bull found Pascual-Leone, who headed the ball into Singer’s path. Striking the volley, the sophomore ripped a low shot into the left corner to suddenly pull the Jeffs level.

With neither team able to gain any traction over the final 26-plus minutes of regulation the game headed into overtime. Starting to dictate the play in what had been a physical match, Amherst won a pair of corner kicks in the opening minutes of the extra session.

Playing the ball into the attacking third with a long throw, Max Fikke linked up with Norton, who flicked it on to the far post. Coming up the right wing, Pascual-Leone corralled the ball inside the six-yard box, hammering home the go-ahead goal past the arms of a diving Collins to seal the win.

Amherst finished with a 19-7 shot advantage and a 12-2 lead in corner kicks. Bull had two saves in 93:34 minutes of action to improve to 2-0-0, while Collins finished with three stops.