Making three saves over 110 minutes of action in a 0-0 double-overtime deadlock at Middlebury Sat., Oct. 1, Adam Purdy '13 (#30, main photo) secured his fifth shutout in seven games this season and the 18th of his career as he became the all-time Wesleyan record-holder for shutouts. He broke the mark of 17.5 held by Dave Barrett who played from 1989-92. Wesleyan, ranked 11th nationally in the most recent NSCAA Division III poll, and second in New England behind Little Three rival Amherst, then was right back on the pitch for its second straight two-game NESCAC weekend, hosting Colby Sun., Oct. 2. Purdy stopped eight Mule attempts in a 2-0 Cardinal win, then picked up three more saves in holding Coast Guard off the board Wed., Oct. 5 in a 2-0 Cardinal victory. It is the third time in the last six season the Cards are unbeaten through nine games.
While Middlebury collected 14 total shots in the game to just six by the Cardinals, each team put only three shots on goal. Purdy, who had three shutouts last week to earn him NESCAC Player of the Week laurels, made his toughest stop of the contest in the 54th minute, making a sliding stop after a smart Panther cross found a player in front. Wesleyan had its best opportunity in the 77th minute but hit the crossbar with an attempt off the foot of Zach Dixon '12.
Close games between Wesleyan and Middlebury are much the norm as the last 11 meetings have all been decided by two goals or less. This is the second tie in the last five encounters. It is the first scoreless battle between the Cardinals and Panthers in the 30 all-time meetings as Middlebury holds a 20-8-2 edge in the series.
Against Colby, Wesleyan got on the board early as Greg Shaheen '15 (#13, photo insert lower right) scored the first goal of his career in the third minute, running onto a pass on the right side from Chris Kuehn '13 and beating the Colby keeper to the near post with a low shot. The teams played scoreless for the next 28 minutes before Wesleyan expanded its margin to 2-0 in the 31st minute. Walter Rodriguez '13 (#10, photo insert upper right) took a free kick level with the top of the 18-yard box from a sharp angle in the right. His low, driving boot enter some traffic in front but no one touched the ball as it found its way into the right side of the net. For Rodriguez, it was goal number two on the year.
The teams were virtually even in both total shots (17-16 in Wesleyan's favor) and shots on goal (8-7 in Colby's favor) during the contest. The Mules' best chance to score came in the 65th minute when a shot fired from long-range hit square on the crossbar and caromed back into the field of play. Moments later, Wesleyan returned the compliment when Rory O'Neill '13 took a shot from 35 yards away that hit on the inside of the right post but stayed out of the net as the ball went all the way across the goal mouth to the outside left portion of the box.
Wesleyan has beaten Colby 13 straight times since the first meeting of the teams in 1978. All of the Cardinal wins have come since 2000.
The win over Coast Guard was Wesleyan third straight vs. its in-state rival and sixth in the last seven meetings. Wesleyan holds a 40-18-5 lead in the long-standing series.
After a scoreless first period which featured just one shot on goal by Wesleyan and none by Coast Guard, play opened up in the second half. Wesleyan broke the tie in the 58th minute when O'Neill netted his team-leading fourth goal of the year as he headed a corner kick by Noah Schlesinger '13 into the right side of the net. Less than a minute earlier, Evan Hazelett '13 took a shot that was labelled for the lower right corner, but was saved by the Bears' keeper, bringing about the goal-scoring corner kick.
Rodriguez added the insurance goal for the Cardinals in the 80th minute as he headed in a shot from close range on the left after getting a feed from down low on the left by Hazelett. Cabell Maddux '13 began the play with a long pass to Hazelett midway in the offensive zone on the left. Hazelett then took it deep and turned the corner to find Rodriguez for his third marker of the season.
Purdy posted his fourth consecutive shutout and seventh of the year, improving his Wesleyan career-record figure to 20. He has now gone 408 minutes of play without allowing a goal over a five-game span. Two of his three saves against Coast Guard were true goal-savers as both came off direct kicks from about 30 yards out and required him to make a diving stop.
Ahead is a NESCAC contest vs. Bates at home Sat., Oct. 8. LiveStats are available by clicking < here >.
(photos by Peter Stein '84)