Men's soccer earns a 1-1 draw on the road at Williams

Senior Nate Merchant leads the NESCAC in goals after scoring his fifth of the season on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017 at Williams in a 1-1 draw with the Ephs. (File photo by Theophil Syslo/Bates College) 

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Senior Nate Merchant scored his league-leading fifth goal of the season and the Bates men's soccer team drew 1-1 on the road with the Williams College Ephs Sunday afternoon.

Merchant (Los Angeles, Calif.) has now scored in four of the Bobcats' five matches so far this season. Bates (3-1-1, 1-1-1 NESCAC) earned the draw despite getting outshot by the Ephs (3-1-2, 2-1-2 NESCAC) by a count of 19-12.

Bates grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fifth minute on Sunday. Junior Ben Lyons (San Rafael, Calif.) took a corner kick for the Bobcats. Senior captain PJ DiBenedetto (Buffalo, N.Y.) made a front zone run that caused the Williams defender to miss the ball. The ball fell to senior captain Max Watson (Yarmouth, Maine) and his shot got blocked right to Merchant at the back post. Merchant smashed it in on one touch.

The Ephs tied things up in the 17th minute thanks to a corner kick of their own. Chris Fleischer delivered a feed from the corner to Andrew Mathew and Mathew finished for his first goal of the season. 

After that, the teams engaged in a defensive struggle. Junior Robbie Montanaro (Belmont, Mass.) made seven saves between the pipes for the Bobcats and Bobby Schneiderman recorded four saves for the Ephs.

The first overtime period proved to be quite nerve-racking for the Bobcats. Sophomore Eric Opoku (Accra, Ghana) nearly won the match with a strong shot on goal just 34 seconds in to the overtime period but Schneiderman covered it up to record the save. The Ephs earned seven corner kick opportunities in the 10-minute period. Montanaro and the Bates defense held strong every time despite the constant pressure. On one play, Montanaro was able to punch the ball over the net to prevent a header from going in. 

Neither team recorded a corner kick nor a shot on goal in the second overtime period.

Fleischer and Mark Sisco-Tolomeo led the Ephs with three shots apiece. The Bobcats spread their shots around, with five different players recording two shots each. 

The Bobcats are back in action Saturday when they host Trinity at 2:00 p.m. on Russell Street Field.