The men’s soccer team has turned its season around after a 0-2-1 NESCAC start with three wins and a tie in their past four conference games.
They started their stretch with a tie at Trinity last weekend. After a scoreless first half, the Bears got on the scoreboard first with a goal from Zach Danssaert ’14 in the 50th minute. Although Trinity controlled the ball for more time, Bowdoin was able to prevent them from scoring until a poorly-cleared corner kick led to a Trinity goal in the 80th minute.
Both teams had solid scoring opportunities in the two overtime periods, but stout goalkeeping by Will Wise ’14 and Trinity’s Domenic Quade ensured the game ended in a 1-1 tie.
Although he was happy to come out of the game with a point against Trinity—a team that was near the top of conference standings—Head Coach Scott Wiercinski admits that letting a win slip away was a tough pill to swallow.
“[Since we were] winning with 11 minutes left in the game… we feel that’s an opportunity lost,” he said.
While the team’s defense hasn’t allowed more than one goal in the last five games, the Trinity goal reminded Wiercinski why the team’s record was still absent a conference win at that point.
“Many of the single goals we’ve given up in games have been preventable and, in that way, we should be having shutouts and we’re not. I feel like we’re leaking goals,” said Wiercinski. “Our opponents aren’t earning them through good play or hard work; we are kind of gifting them away.”
“Looking at the past, we feel we could be in a better situation record-wise,” he added. “I think the team would agree that our potential is kind of limitless if we fix a few of those mistakes.”
The team finally got past its mistakes and earned its first NESCAC win over Bates (1-5-2 overall, 0-5-2 NESCAC) last Sunday. Only 24 hours after the disappointing tie, the Polar Bears rallied back with a 4-1 away victory. Kiefer Solarte ’16 knocked in the first goal—his first career NESCAC goal. The Polar Bears controlled the ball for the majority of the game, and had goals by Cedric Charlier ’17—the first of his career—Austin Downing ’17 and Andrew Jones ’16.
“Maybe it’s a little like a bad dress rehearsal leads to a good opening night,” Wiercinski noted of the contrast between the Trinity and Bates games.
“There’s a lot of buildup in the week to get to Saturday and we tightened up. Then on Sunday there’s no training going into the game, you have a bad taste in your mouth from the day before and you play with a little less stress.”
“Starting off with an early goal definitely makes the game easier,” Solarte said of his game-opening goal. “As long as we get someone to put in the first goal, I’m sure the rest of the team will follow.”
“The first [NESCAC] win of the season was big, and we always love to beat up on Bates,” he added. “Too bad it came so late.”
Heeding Wiercinski’s warning about giving up the unearned goals, the team earned its two most impressive wins this year as it shutout Hamilton 2-0 and Williams 1-0 on Homecoming Weekend.
Saturday’s win against Hamilton marked the team’s first-ever over the Continentals. After a scoreless first half, Matt Dias Costa ’17 slid into the box and chipped it past the Hamilton keeper in the 75th minute to get the Polar Bears on the board. Bowdoin added an insurance goal for goalie Noah Safian ’17, who had four crucial saves to maintain the shutout, when Danssaert netted a cross from Sam White ’15 in the 88th minute.
Wiercinski credits his midfield with preventing the Ephs and the Continentals from finding the back of the net.
“Our midfield did a really good job in both games helping control the space so our back lines and goalkeepers had much more simple decisions rather than deciding from a lot of different options,” said Wiercinski. “Although Williams had a lot of the ball and a lot of possessions, we did a pretty good job limiting their chances, and obviously a shutout’s a shutout.”
The team takes its winning streak to Conn College this week, where it hopes to spoil the Camels’ homecoming.
“I feel that we can win the rest of our games without much surprise,” Wiercinski admitted. Nonetheless, he and the team are still approaching each game with the same intensity and motivation.
“Conn College maybe doesn’t have the same history that a program like Amherst or Williams has but we’re not playing against history; we’re playing against the 11 guys on the field and they’re all pretty good,” he said.