Hartford, Conn. - Senior tri-captain Cody Savonen (Orleans, Mass.) scored twice while classmate and fellow tri-captain Mateo Zabala (Medellin, Colombia) came up with numerous clutch saves to lead the Trinity College Bantams to a 2-1 victory over in-state rival Wesleyan University in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) men's socccer action on Wednesday night under the lights in Hartford. Trinity improves to 3-8-1 overall and picks up its first conference win to improve to 1-6-1 in league play while the Cardinals fall to 5-5-1 on the year and 1-5-1 in conference action. The Bantams return to action on Saturday for an 11 a.m. NESCAC battle at Middlebury.
Trinity controlled the pace for the majority of the first half, winning the shot battle 10-5 in the first session and earning four corners to just one by Wesleyan. But the Cardinals were first to strike thanks to a goal by Taylor Chin (Ipswich, Mass.) at the 20:38 mark. Trinity was whistled for a foul well outside the box which led to an indirect kick, taken by Chin. Off the kick, Chin sent what looked to be a pass into a scrum in the box, but the ball sailed over everybody in the box, bounced, and went just over the outstretched arm of Zabala and into the back of the net for a goal from about 40 yards out.
The Bantams proved unfazed though, finding the equalizer off the foot of Savonen with just over 11 minutes left in the half. At the 34 minute mark, junior William Baker (Los Angeles, Calif.) won a ball deep in Wesleyan's box, fighting off a Cardinal defender for possession. After controlling it, he turned and tapped a pass to Savonen who was positioned near the corner of the box and beat Wesleyan goalie Brian Harnett (Montclair, N.J.) with his right foot to even the score at 1-1. Not done yet, Savonen scored again just three minutes later, winning a 50/50 ball in Wesleyan's zone and once again finding the back of the net to put the hosts up 2-1 at the break.
Both teams picked up the intensity in the second half of what was already a chippy game. Zabala, who finished with eight saves and encountered many high-pressure moments, proved to be a wall late in the game, as did Trinity's defense. Wesleyan nearly tied the game in the 66th minute when senior captain Nick Jackson (Vienna, Va.) rifled a shot off his right foot towards the back of the net, but Zabala made the full-extension save to preserve the lead. Savonen nearly completed a hat trick after a beautiful give-and-go with rookie Nigel Gustave (Baltimore, Md.) in the 72nd minute but Harnett came up with a big save to keep the Cardinals in it.
Wesleyan had their best chance to tie things with roughly seven minutes remaining when a shot by Cam McCusker (West Hartford, Conn.) bounced off the right-side post, sending Zabala sprawled out onto the grass and out of position. The rebound bounced directly to Mauricio Bailleres (Cancun, Mexico) who rifled a shot towards the wide open net, but Trinity senior Scott Brazina (Concord, Mass.) gave up his body and jumped in front of the shot from point-blank range to keep the ball out of the goal and preserve the 2-1 lead which would stand as the final.