Men's soccer team falls at Williams in NESCAC quarterfinal

Bates senior Eric Opoku posted a team-high five shots with two on goal in his final game, a 3-0 loss at Williams in the NESCAC quarterfinals on Nov. 2, 2019. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

WILLIAMSTOWN, MASS. -- An outstanding 2019 season came to a close for the Bates men's soccer team Saturday in the NESCAC Championship quarterfinals, as the fifth-seeded Bobcats fell 3-0 at fourth-seeded Williams.

Bates finishes 9-6-1, their most victories since 2008. The Bobcats' 5-4-1 conference record tied the 2004 team for the most NESCAC victories in a season since the conference began holding championships in 2000.

"I told the fellas that it was just one of those days at the office," said head coach Tyler Sheikh. "On the whole, there were a lot of positives to take from this season, and we'll build from here."

The game kicked off with Bates in control. Within the first three minutes, Bates senior Julien Williamson (Sandy, Utah) was able to put a shot on goal. But the fourth-seeded Ephs (8-3-5) got on the scoreboard right after stopping perhaps Bates' closest shot at a goal, in the 20th minute.

Seconds after entering the game, Bates senior Eric Opoku (Accra, Ghana) got off a menacing shot from 30 yards out aimed straight for the upper left corner. Michael Davis made an all-out effort to dive and deflect the ball just over the post and out of bounds for a Bates corner kick.

Williams counter-attacked off of Bates' corner kick, with Liam Bardong clearing to Chris Fleisher up the right sideline. Bobby Fabricant sprinted down the middle of the field and caught up to Fleisher's perfectly timed cross, then used the outside of his foot to slot the ball under the outstretched foot of Bates first-year back Alex Kovacs (Hopkinton, Mass.) and inside the right post past Bates junior goalkeeper David Goodstein (Bethesda, Md.).

Opoku continued to be in the middle of a strong Bates attack. Approaching the 34th minute, a deep run into the box by junior defender Blaise Marceau (Newton, Mass.) led to a cross by Opoku straight across the face of the Williams goal, barely eluding a pair of Bates forwards for the finish.

Opoku finished off another offensive run in the 41st minute with a hard shot through traffic but directly at Davis.

The second half commenced with the teams battling for possession in the middle of the pitch. In the 66th minute, Demian Gass got the ball from 20 yards out, took a few touches forward, and scored a goal from a long shot.

The Ephs continued to pressure the Bobcats. In the 76th minute, Eli Petricksent a low cross into the box. Nathan Song placed a shot into the bottom right corner to increase the Ephs' lead to three.

After 90 minutes of play, the Ephs and Bobcats had each taken 13 shots, though the Ephs had six on goal compared to the Bobcats' three. Davis and Goodstein each recorded three saves.