April 1, 2014

Ephril Fools: Williams Hammers No. 7 Tufts

from press release

Williams junior Steven Kiesel scored four goals, leading the Ephs to a huge upset over No. 7 Tufts. (John Strohsacker)

KEENE, N.H. - Though they found themselves trailing at 5-2 early in the contest, the Williams College Ephs (6-3, 4-1 NESCAC) defeated the Tufts University Jumbos (7-2, 4-1 NESCAC) today, 15-8. This year's group of Ephs has looked promising from the start, and as they take on the second half of the season they are certainly living up to our expectations.

The significant triumph was a result of yet another all-around team effort. Steven Kiesel led the scoring with four goals, while goalkeeper Dan Whittam contributed with a critical 17 saves. John Maimone-Medwick and Stephen Upton were among several Ephs to contribute with multiple forced turnovers.

Tufts entered the contest as the top team in this week's Division III New England poll, while the Ephs had been voted ninth. The Ephs' earlier winning streak had been broken last week after two out-of-conference losses. However, a NESCAC upset is a phenomenal way to get back on their feet.

Though it was technically the Ephs' second home game of the season, the two NESCAC opponents met at Keene State College while athletic fields remain under construction in Williamstown.

The Ephs like being the underdog, whether it's facing a top-ranked team like Tufts or coming back from behind to win a game. Their depth as a unit and poise under pressure have been tested time and again in these situations.

Though Kiesel was the high scorer for either team, eight different Ephs netted at least one goal. This is what we've come to expect from the highly offensive squad. The defense also stepped up, remaining steadfast throughout the contest.

Andy Grabowski scored the first goal of the game with 11:32 remaining in the quarter. However, Jumbo Cole Bailey answered back about a minute later, and the score was tied.

Williams made a few attempts to pull ahead but failed to do so in those early minutes. Finally, Tufts broke through and went on a three-goal run to pull ahead. The score was 4-1.

Each team then traded a goal, putting the score at 5-2.

In the final minute of the quarter, Khary Dennis scored. This would be the first of many consecutive goals for Williams, lifting them toward a lead. The first quarter wrapped at 5-3 in favor of Tufts, but it would not be indicative of the final outcome.

Five goals were scored in the second quarter, between four different Ephs. Tufts tried and failed to find the back of the net. Though possession switched hands often, Whittam made it difficult for the Jumbos to follow through on their plays.

Though the score was 8-5 at halftime, the Ephs knew better than to relax. The challenge would be to hang on to the lead for two more quarters.

Grabowski opened the third quarter with a goal, much like he did to start the contest. However, the Jumbos were relentless. They finally broke through Whittam's wall: Peter Bowers and John Upreggen scored back-to-back goals to put the score at 7-9.

A series of productive plays in the midfield led to another Williams goal, this time form first-year Michael Fahey.

Fahey's shot was followed by a Tufts goal, their last of the contest.

Riley Hoffman netted a goal for the Ephs, while Dennis and Kiesel each racked up one more of their own. The third quarter closed at 13-8.

The fourth quarter remained as competitive as ever as Tufts fought back with intensity. Whittam was solid in the net, giving his team a handful of opportunities to pull further ahead. Joe Kinney and Eric Kelley each found the net once more to ensure a 15-8 victory.

"It was a great day for us," Coach McCormack commented. "The defense stepped up in the second quarter, and then our offense started clicking, as well. Everybody contributed."

He praised Kiesel and Dennis on their offensive contributions.

Williams and Tufts were both active offensively, taking 38 and 39 shots, respectively. Tufts won 18 of the 27 faceoffs, an element of the game normally controlled by the Ephs. Tufts had 28 ground balls to Williams' 26. The teams even had the same number of penalties, at five apiece. Despite a fiercely competitive matchup, Williams sealed the win as early as the second quarter.

McCormack noted not only Whittam's talent but also his role on the field: "He was a great leader in the game, and did a great job directing the defense."

The Ephs will take on Wesleyan Saturday, April 5 at 3:00 PM the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. They hope to continue their streak, as the contest will also help determine this year's Little Three victor.

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