It has been quite the season thus far for the men’s soccer team; overtime thrillers and dominating performances are a common theme. Coach Stewart Flaherty’s program is consistent and focused from top to bottom—with a front line that works well together and a defensive unit that cleans up everything that tries to test senior goalkeeper Sam Polito. This consistency and focus was best displayed throughout the past week as the team began with a draw against a tough NESCAC rival, Bowdoin, and then a lengthy weekend road trip against Wesleyan and Williams.
A week ago under the lights on Garcelon, Bates and Bowdoin played toe to toe throughout the contest as the match went the length, eventually ending in a tie. For much of the first half, a tough Bowdoin defensive unit held the Bobcat attack at bay. In addition, the Polar Bears did a good job of maintaining possession and testing the Bates defense.
“Bowdoin are a good defensive team, and condensed certain parts of the field very well,” explained head coach Stewart Flaherty. However, at halftime, the necessary adjustments were made and the Bobcats began to spread the field.
“When we worked the ball to other areas of the field as the game progressed, we had more of the play and created more chances as a result,” noted Flaherty of the second half changes.
With these adjustments came opportunities, particularly when Bowdoin keeper Stevie Van Siclen denied sophomore Nate Merchant’s low shot. Merchant’s play particularly stood out, making many runs down the field and putting shots on net. Eventually, after no team scored in a golden goal situation after regulation, the match ended in a tie. For the game, the Bobcats had two shots on goal to Bowdoin’s eight.
After dropping a decision against Wesleyan on September 26th, Bates finished up its weekend road trip at Williams with yet another overtime victory, 2-1. For Flaherty and company, the loss the day before did not deter the squad.
“We do not see things through the narrative of having a ‘bounce back,’” Flaherty explained. “On Saturday we learned some things and know we need to make improvements and adjustments to our system as this season progresses.”
Just as was the case in the match against Bowdoin, Bates made the necessary adjustments, and it paid off, knotting the game at one in the 89th minute of regulation as Merchant found the back of the net on a cross from fellow sophomore Justin Yacovino. In overtime, junior standout Peabo Knoth received a beautiful through ball from running mate and senior Luis Pereira. Knoth did what he does best and found the back of the net.
For the game, Sam Polito made 10 saves to bring his season total to 44 with only seven allowed. The goal by Knoth brought his point total to 12, second to Pereira who sits at 15 so far this season. The Bobcats have a week of preparation before a Saturday afternoon home contest against Trinity.