SPORTS

Men’s Soccer Defeats Wesleyan and Brandeis in Lead Up to Postseason Play


By Jordan Rhodeman '21, Staff Writer | Oct. 25, 2018 | 148-7

Senior midfielder Fikayo Ajayi has gone on a scoring spree in recent games, notching his only two goals of the season in the past two weeks.

This past Friday, Oct. 19, the Amherst men’s soccer team traveled to Middletown, Connecticut for a matchup against the Wesleyan Cardinals and emerged with a comfortable 3-0 win.


Coach Justin Serpone’s squad came into the match desperate for a conference win, with the NESCAC tournament fast approaching.


Although Amherst boasts a perfect out-of-conference record, the Mammoths sat in fifth place in the league on 13 points, just one point behind both Middlebury and Bowdoin.


Amherst played with intensity, organization and physicality from the opening whistle, traits which have traditionally been hallmarks of the Mammoths under Serpone’s leadership.


An Amherst breakaway led to a Wesleyan foul just outside the Cardinals’ 18-yard-box, and midfielder Dane Lind ’19 stepped up to take the free kick.


Instead of shooting, though, Lind fired a ball towards the far post, where left back Bryce Johnson ’21 buried the cross in the back of the net for Amherst’s first goal of the game.


Although Johnson’s acrobatic flip throws have been a key offensive weapon for the Mammoths throughout the season, this was the sophomore’s first tally of the season and demonstrated his offensive prowess beyond the touchlines.


Amherst pressed forward in search of another goal before the end of the first half, and Cutler Coleman ’20 and German Giammattei ’22 managed to accomplish this task. Giammattei sent a through ball past the defense and to the feet of the onrushing Coleman, who slotted home into the bottom right corner of the net.


Coleman’s tally gave Amherst plenty of momentum heading into halftime, and the second half ultimately proved to be all Amherst.


After long bouts of sustained offensive pressure, Jimmy McMillian ’20 finally scored the Mammoths’ third and final goal of the game in the 82nd minute.


McMillian got on the end of a long throw from Johnson and chipped the ball over the onrushing Wesleyan keeper and into the back of the net.


Amherst took 31 shots in total, as the Wesleyan defense withered under Amherst’s late game offensive surge.


Corner kicks were even between both teams, but Amherst, in a testament to its physical style of play and penchant for taking risks, accrued 12 fouls in contrast to Wesleyan’s nine.


With this win, Amherst moved to 5-3-1 in league play. The team, however, did not advance in the table, as all teams above them were also victorious.


Amherst returned to the field on Monday, Oct. 22, when it traveled to Brandeis for a non-conference match-up.


The visitors came out of the gates with intensity, scoring in the opening moments of the game. After gaining possession, an Amherst midfielder launched a ball into the box from midfield.


Nyugen, rising above his defender, nudged the ball towards Fikayo Ajayi ’19, who slotted the pass with a first touch towards the left corner and past the keeper.


Amherst continued to dominate the start, pressuring Brandeis and setting a physical tone of the match.


In the aftermath of a set piece, defender Sean Fitzgerald ’19 scored his third career goal. He used his 6’5” frame at full stretch to fire home a pass from midfielder Alex Shahmirzadi ’22, who earned his first career assist for the Mammoths.


The Mammoths would continue to assault the Judges’ net for the remainder of the half, taking nine shots before the whistle blew.


The second half would be an unremarkable affair, as each team battled for possession.


Amherst demonstrated their characteristic physicality and fearlessness in the tackle, earning nine fouls in the second half, but only Andres Pascual-Leone ’19 and Lind earned yellow cards.


Brandeis clawed a goal bacl in the 80th minute, when Noah Gans scored, but that was not enough for the Judges, as the 2-1 scoreline would hold, and the match finished with Amherst’s defense ensuring the victory a clean final ten minutes.


The Mammoths will next face Trinity in their regular season finale on Wednesday, Oct. 23rd at 3:30 p.m on Hitchcock field.


The Mammoths will then enter the quarterfinals of the NESCAC tournament on Saturday, against a yet-to-be-determined opponent.


In addition, on Friday, Oct. 18, the men’s soccer team was named a member of the “Beneski Soccer Teams,” along with the women’s team.


In doing so, Amherst honored Ted W. Beneski ’78, P’08 and Laurie M. Beneski P’08.


The college, in a statement, praised the two for “their extraordinary generosity and commitment to the College.”


In terms public effects, little has changed. The Amherst Athletics website makes no mention of either team’s relationship to the new name, except for a tagline “Proud members of the Beneski soccer programs,” above a blurb commemorating their previous accomplishments on each team’s home page.


Additionally, In press releases, a tagline is now included below scores from both teams’ games. Although members of both teams received “Beneski Soccer Programs” scarves, their jerseys will not change this season.


The Mammoths will look to continue their winning ways when they face Trinity College at home on Wednesday in what is the team’s final regular season game of the season. Following this contest, the Mammoths will head into post-season play at the NESCAC Championships.