Men's soccer plays Bowdoin to a 1-1 draw

Junior Nate Merchant scored his second goal of the year in Bates' 1-1 draw with Bowdoin on Sept. 20, 2016. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College) 

BRUNSWICK, Maine -- Junior forward Nate Merchant scored in the 86th minute and the Bates men's soccer team earned a 1-1 draw with Bowdoin Tuesday afternoon at Pickard Field. 

It's the second straight year the Bobcats (2-2-2, 0-2-1 NESCAC) have played the Polar Bears (3-1-1, 1-1-1 NESCAC) to a draw, with the two teams finishing last year's match in Lewiston scoreless.

Tuesday's match was scoreless at halftime but not without a couple of good scoring opportunities for both sides.

Bowdoin recorded six shots in the first half while Bates tallied four. Sophomore goalkeeper Robbie Montanaro (Belmont, Mass.) made three of his seven saves in the first half, including smothering two header attempts in the box by the Polar Bears.

In the 28th minute, first-year Eric Opoku (Accra, Ghana) broke free and shot the ball towards the right post, only to see Bowdoin goalkeeper Stevie Van Siclen make a spectacular save, keeping the match scoreless. 

Throughout the match, Bowdoin got corner kick opportunities but the Bates defense led by junior Max Watson (Yarmouth, Maine) repeatedly prevented them from taking advantage. None of the Polar Bears' nine corner kicks on the afternoon resulted in scores.

But Bowdoin did get on the board first in the second half. 

In the 80th minute, Ethan Ellsworth fired a hard shot from about 25 yards out that Montanaro deflected away from the goal. But the deflection went right to Levi Morant who blasted the ball into the top of the net to give Bowdoin a 1-0 lead.

In the 86th minute, Bates denied yet another Bowdoin corner opportunity, setting up a goal kick. Montanaro fed first-year Antonio Heredia Soto (Elizabethtown, Pa.) who kicked the ball far down the field towards senior forward Peabo Knoth (Portland, Maine). Knoth fought for the ball and a Bowdoin defender deflected it away from him right to Merchant (Los Angeles, Calif.) who tallied his second goal of the season, tying him with Opoku for the team lead.

Merchant's goal also marks the first goal of the year for Bates in NESCAC play after previously being shutout by Hamilton and Tufts. 

The match went to overtime and neither team recorded a shot in the first overtime period. The Polar Bears did threaten, tallying three of their nine corner kick opportunities on the afternoon in one two-minute stretch as time was winding down. But the first overtime period ended with the match still tied at one.

In the 110th minute of the match, in the second overtime period, Bowdoin's Austin Downing shot a ball hard on the ground that headed toward the goal. Montanaro went down to both knees and secured it for his seventh save of the afternoon, lying face down for a moment, breathing a sigh of relief.

The draw snaps a streak of seven straight wins in Brunswick for Bowdoin against the Bobcats. 

Bates is back in action Saturday at 2 p.m. when they host Wesleyan at Russell Street Field.