Over the past couple of weeks, the men’s soccer team has competed against a variety of tough teams. On October 13, they faced an 8-5 Curry College team in a nonconference game. Bates dominated the entire game to post a 4-0 victory. Aaron Nickelsberg, a senior captain, opened up the scoring in the tenth minute on a set piece. Freshmen Max Watson and Nate Merchant each had a nice finish to put Bates up 3-0 in the first half. In the second half, sophomore Justin Pertierra had an incredible goal to put the nail in the coffin. After dribbling through half the Curry team, Pertierra delicately finessed the ball around the keeper for a spectacular finish. This brought Bates’ win streak to three in a row. Junior goalkeeper Sam Polito had six saves on the night.
Next up for the Bobcats was Middlebury (7-2-3) over fall break. The Panthers scored in the 18th minute of play, when Adam Glaser slid a ball into the net past Bates keeper Polito for his seventh goal of the season. The two teams battled back and forth, each having opportunities but failing to capitalize. However, in the 70th minute, Bates freshman midfielder Sal Sprofera was able to find the back of the net after his shot ricocheted off a Middlebury defender. Sophomore Peabo Knoth, who leads the team with four assists, assisted the goal. Knoth almost became a hero in the final minutes, but his shot was saved by the diving Middlebury keeper. The game went into extra time, where Panthers unfortunately needed just three minutes to score the golden goal. The ball was sent into the box from a corner kick and bounced around before being chested into the net by Greg Conrad. Middlebury outshot Bates 14-7 and had eight more corners than the Bobcats. With the win, Middlebury maintained the Hedley Reynolds cup, which is given to the winner of the two teams. Named after Thomas Hedley Reynolds, who served in administrative roles at both schools, the cup has a long history between the two teams. Middlebury has held it the past two years.
After the heartbreaking loss to Middlebury, Bates hosted Williams at Homecoming Weekend. Williams is currently fourth place in the NESCAC, while Bates is in tenth. Williams opened up the scoring 40 seconds in when Chris Conder put away a cross from Malcolm Moutenot. Bates answered four minutes later when Merchant connected on a volley, which he sent past the Middlebury keeper. Merchant is tied for second on the goals leaderboard with four along with classmate Max Watson. Knoth leads the pack with five goals. The two teams then went scoreless for the next 105 minutes, resulting in a 1-1 hard fought draw. Both Bates and Williams had chances to take the lead. Bates keeper Polito made some incredible saves that kept his goal pure. Knoth used his wizardry to dribble through Williams’s defenders but could not find a finish. Throughout the game, the home crowd was very supportive of their team, cheering loudly and frequently as Bates fought their way to a draw.
Bates still has a shot to make the NESCAC Championship Tournament if they defeat Colby under the lights at Garcelon Wednesday night at 8:00. With a 2-6-1 conference record, Bates also needs Connecticut College to lose to Wesleyan or for Trinity to lose or tie against Amherst. The team is confident that they can still make it, and that they can beat anyone on any given day.
“Everything comes down to just believing we can win and compete against anyone in the NESCAC,” said Peabo Knoth.
With this attitude, Bates looks to beat Colby in their season finale Wednesday and advance into the playoffs.