Amherst edges Bates, 2-1, extends undefeated mark

On Saturday, the Jeffs defeated the Bates College Bobcats, 2-1, in Amherst’s first conference away game of the season. For most Amherst teams, a game away from the Memorial Hill-Alumni Gymnasium complex means only fewer friendly faces in the crowd. For the field hockey squad, however, it means an entirely different playing surface: artificial turf.

Amherst is now the only team in the league that doesn’t play on the surface that completely changes the pace and dynamics of the game. While the Jeffs are able to practice on UMass’ turf, they were at a decided disadvantage on Saturday, having made the trek to UMass for only two practices in the preceding week.

“We knew that our skill on grass would carry over onto the turf,” said O’Hare.

This confidence was apparent early on, as the Jeffs pounded eight shots at the Bobcat goal in the first half, one of which found its mark with 15:41 remaining in the period.

The captain connection occurred in full force as O’Hare emerged from a scramble in front of the cage to put the ball over the endline off an assist from Skrivan. Neither team would score for the rest of the period; Bates managed to get off seven shots but was foiled by the efforts of goalie Kathleen Boucher ’08 and the defensive trio of Amy Watson ’07, Lauren Benson ’08 and Catherine Calvert ’09, who had two defensive saves on the day. Midfielder Alyssa Dudzik ’09 also played well defensively.

“Dudzik successfully stopped a few fast breaks and was a force in the back of the field,” said forward Rachel Carr-Harris ’07.

Just over 10 minutes into the second half, Carr-Harris scored her team-leading third goal of the year off a feed from Gilbert, which put all three captains in the box score.

Bates managed to get on the board with 14:20 remaining, but Amherst held onto the lead with composure, helped by a time-out called by Head Coach Carol Knerr.

“They picked up a lot of momentum towards the end of the game and had us back on our heels a little bit, but we held strong and finished the game on top,” said Gilbert.

By keeping Bates at bay, the Jeffs proved that they can handle whatever adversity comes their way for the remainder of the season-and the opponents only grow tougher as the season advances.

At 4:30 p.m. today Amherst hosts Springfield College, a strong local team, before returning to the turf on Saturday at Tufts University. The Jumbos are 1-1 in conference play. The following two Saturdays feature match ups with conference powerhouses Bowdoin and Middlebury Colleges, both undefeated in the conference.

“The team chemistry is there and this is the basis for continued success,” said O’Hare.

Added Gilbert, “I am confident that, if we play our game, we can beat anyone in our league right now.”

With positive attitudes starting from the top, there is no reason why the Jeffs shouldn’t remain on their first-place perch.