MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Two shots on goal, three ties and four lead changes are numbers you rarely see in a football game, but that’s what fans received at Jackson Field on Saturday afternoon. In a wild back-and-forth, the Wesleyan men’s soccer team had enough in the end to edge past Colby, 4-3, in the first game of NESCAC for both teams.
Wesleyan’s four goals mark the most the Cardinals have scored in a NESCAC game since losing Bates 5-0 on September 26, 2015. Four different Cardinals scored while the match winner came off a right-footed off from Soren Tollis ’25 as the first career goal of the second in 81st minute capped off a high-scoring affair.
Mario Simoes dazzled in the 14e minute for Colby as he started the scoring with a move to his right followed by a 25-yard burst into the top left corner, after a dive Liam Devanny ’23 net.
At 27e minute, Wesleyan was quick to respond Evan O’Brien ’24 threw a pass up from his position as center back deep in the Cardinal defense. Neighbors Mateo ’25 came on the ball and took a touch to put the ball on his favorite left foot. With just the goalkeeper to beat, Neighbors calmly slipped the ball into the far corner to make it 1-1 in the 27e minute.
Just when it looked like the game would be tied before halftime, Colby took advantage of a poorly played pass into the back of the Cardinal defense. A back pass under pressure was intercepted by Josh Rubin and with Devanny engaged, he took a throw-in to his left and finished with his right foot to give the Mules a 2-1 half-time lead.
Even with the disappointment of the goal awarded late in the first half, Wesleyan started the second with the front foot and capitalized with a chance to score as Lucas Rühlemann ’25 possessed along the right side of the box before firing a cross to the far post with the outside of his right foot. The dashing pass somehow found the head of Zack Burd ’25, who was surrounded by three Mule defenders, and into the back of the net to level the score again.
The tension continued to mount late and into the 77e minute, Kyle Burbage ’25 was caught by the shoulders in the penalty area, preventing him from running on a cross pass from the right wing. As the referee whistled, pointing the spot, Danish Harmaty ’24 came forward from the spot and calmly slotted his attempt into the bottom right corner, just past Colby’s diving keeper.
As if this contest had run out of drama, the tension mounted less than 30 seconds later, as this time around the Cardinals called a foul in the box as Colby’s Ethan Franco stepped forward and got some. drilled one down the right side of the net, past Devanny who was rooted in his place in the center of the frame.
With a growing home crowd, the game came to a head in the 81st minutes like Philippe Cubeddu ’23 played a one-two with Harmaty down the right wing. As Cubeddu came on Harmaty’s pass, two Colby defenders followed Burbage’s run towards goal, leaving a weak spot behind which was filled in by Tollis. Cubeddu spotted the open midfield and the centering pass was completed for the potentially game-winning goal.
Wesleyan is now 21-2-1 all-time against the Mules and is undefeated (11-0-1) in 12 all-time meetings against Colby in Middletown.
Next up for the Cardinals is a big NESCAC matchup midweek as Wesleyan hosts the nationally ranked No. 6 Tufts for a 7:30 p.m. start on Smith Field.