Mens Soccer

Walter Rodriguez '13 & Steve Paresi '12 are OT Heroes for Men's Soccer, Leading to NESCAC Semi-Final Berth

After Zach Dixon '12 cashed in for the game-tying goal in the 83rd minute off a serve by Steve Paresi '12 (#2, left side photo), Walter Rodriguez '13 (#10, right side photo) made Wesleyan a first-round NESCAC tournament winner at Williams Sun., Oct. 31, by scoring from the right side of the box in the 95th minute for a 2-1 victory.  Wesleyan, seeded seventh in the playoffs, now heads to Bowdoin Sat., Nov. 6 to take on the top-seeded Polar Bears, who downed Bates, 5-2, in their opening contest.  Bowdoin defeated Wesleyan, 1-0, during the regular-season encounter in Brunswick, Me., Oct. 9.  The game was to be webcast, but extenuating circumstances have prevented that from happening.  Still, livestats will be available at this < link >.

Wesleyan's entry into the NESCAC tournament was in doubt until the final five minutes of the regular-season finale at home vs. Conn. College Fri., Oct. 29.  On the strength of Paresi's overtime tally with 4:57 left in the second extra stanza, the Cardinals snuck into the post-season tournament.  For his one-goal, two-assist effort on the week, Paresi received NESCAC Player of the Week laurels.

At Williams, Rodriguez took a pass on the right side of the box from Evan Hazelett '13 and connected for the winner, his fourth goal of the campaign.  It was the third game-winning goal of the year for Rodriguez.

Trailing 1-0 when Williams scored in the 43rd minute after a corner kick by the Ephs was directed into the Wesleyan net inadvertently by a Cardinal player for an own goal, the Cardinal had a free kick from 40 yards out on the left side.  Steve Paresi '12 launched the ball into the ball and the Williams keeper came out to punch the ball away.  The carom went to Dixon, who fired a shot from 30 yards out over the maze of players and into the net to even the count.  For Paresi, it was team-leading assist number seven while Dixon netted his second goal of the season.

Rodriguez then did his magic to avenge Wesleyan's season-opening double-overtime loss to Williams back on Sept. 11. Wesleyan was the only road team to win in the first round of the NESCAC tournament.  The other semi-final features #3 Middlebury vs. #4 Amherst.  The last time Wesleyan went into the playoffs as a #7 seed, it emerged with its only NESCAC tournament title, defeating Bowdoin, Williams and Amherst en route to the crown.

At Williams, goalie Adam Purdy '13 had three saves to get the win as Wesleyan moved back above .500 on the year with an 8-7 mark.

When the Cardinals faced Conn on Friday, the mission was clear.  A loss or a tie would have left the Cardinals out of the tournament for the first time since the playoffs began in 2000.  Wesleyan was the top seed in the 2009 playoffs.  Wesleyan was in a must-win situation.

Paresi fired home a 30-yard shot into the left portion of the net to give Wesleyan its 12th consecutive victory over Conn while improving Wesleyan’s all-time record to 28-7-2 vs. the Camels.  It was the second goal of the campaign for Paresi who leads the Cardinals in assists with six, giving him 10 points on the season.  Paresi assisted on Wesleyan’s opening goal, the first-ever tally by Eric Mandell '11, as Paresi connected with him off a corner kick from the left side for one-timer and a 1-0 Wesleyan lead in the 12th minute.

Wesleyan never trailed in the game but the Camels answered Wesleyan goals twice to get the game into overtime.  The Camels scored the final goal of regulation in the 85th minute, turning a centering pass into a goal to counteract Wesleyan’s second goal, coming off the foot of Walter Rodriguez '13 in the 75th minute.  After Ian Waldron '13 had tracked down a loose ball deep on the right side and centered a pass tight to the Camel net, the Conn keeper double-fisted the ball out of the box.  Rodriguez was the first on the scene as he trapped the ball, then launched a left-footed shot that nestled into the upper left corner of the net.

Conn had tied the game for the first time in the 28th minute as the Camels were awarded a penalty kick due to a Wesleyan foul in the defensive box.  Though Wesleyan keeper Adam Purdy '13 (seven saves) guessed correctly in diving to his left and got a hand on the shot but not enough to keep it out of the goal.

Wesleyan's only chance to qualify for the NCAA tournament this year, something the team has done three times in the last five seasons, is to win twice (or at least advance on penalty kicks if need be) at Bowdoin the weekend of Nov. 6-7.  Should the Cardinals defeat Bowdoin, the championship game will have a webcast and LiveStats as well.

(photos courtesy of Peter Stein '84)