WILLIAMSTOWN — It wouldn't necessarily make or break a season, but the Williams College men's soccer team wanted to have a winning record after playing its first six games at home.
The Ephs, who came into the game ranked fourth in New England Division III soccer circles, finished that six-game run almost perfectly, going 5-0-1 after beating RPI 1-0 Wednesday afternoon. Mohammed Rashid's goal in the 72nd minute broke a scoreless tie. It was Rashid's third goal of the year.
The run of success included NESCAC conference wins over Trinity and Colby. The only blemish was a draw against Endicott last week.
"We've had our eyes on this stretch of six games for a long time. We told ourselves we would defend Cole Field," said Eph goalkeeper and tri-captain Christian Alcorn. "I feel like we've done a good job at that.
"Our homestand is over, and we're turning the page."
Turning the page includes getting ready for a NESCAC weekend on the road at Amherst on Saturday and at Bates on Sunday.
Williams prepared for that with 2-0 weekends against Trinity and Eastern Connecticut, and then against Colby and Babson.
"We're taking a one-game approach, and that's harder to do when you have these two-game NESCAC weekends," said Williams coach Erin Sullivan. "The guys have handled that extremely well. I don't think our eyes came off RPI at all the last couple of days.
"You're always happy to come away from your home field with momentum."
The contest was scoreless after 45 minutes. Williams held a 9-1 shot advantage and had four corner kicks to none for the Engineers. The Ephs had three golden opportunities to score in the first half but came up empty. One came in the 36th minute when former Mount Greylock standout Eric Hirsch played the ball ahead to freshman Damian Gase. Gase's shot, though, sailed just past the right-wing post.
Despite the lopsided nature of the first-half statistics, the Engineers almost got on the board first. Devon Baughen had a shot from near the right-wing post, but Alcorn smothered it. That turned out to be the only save he made.
"We had guys there in the area. Clearances don't always go the way you plan. The ball dropped to the player," said Alcorn. "From there, it's just a reaction save. I was really glad to make it, because I really hadn't been pressed."
Nine minutes later, while Williams was pressing the RPI defense, the Ephs struck.
Malcolm Singleton got behind an RPI defender on a run down the left side. Singleton centered the ball to Rashid, who one-touched the sphere into the top of the net.
"All I could think about was getting into the box, getting into the six-yard box — and that's what I did," said Rashid. "Lucky enough, I was in the right place at the right time."
"It was a brilliant combination," Sullivan said. "Rashid is, obviously, always lethal. He's a player I think is somebody who can change the game, and he's been doing that for us this year."
At the end of the day, Williams had a 17-4 shot advantage, but most were not on goal. RPI goalkeeper Ryan Nealon made three saves. The Ephs did have an 8-1 advantage in corner kicks for the game.
Williams now heads into the meat of its NESCAC schedule. Williams has nine matches remaining, three at home. All but one — an Oct. 11 date at Skidmore — are against a conference foe. The NESCAC run starts Saturday at Amherst.
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.