Another multi-goal day from German Giammattei ’21, along with the usual physical Amherst defense proved too much for Wesleyan. Amherst defeated the Cardinals 2-0 on Saturday at Hitchcock Field.
Amherst entered the contest 7-0-2, coming off of Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat of New England College. That same Wednesday, Wesleyan took on first-ranked Tufts, playing them to a 1-1 double-overtime tie and ending the Jumbos’ seven-game winning streak.
The NESCAC clash kicked off just after noon with no clouds in the sky and over 200 fans in attendance.
The Mammoths dominated possession for the first 10 minutes, led from the back by tight marking and tough tackling from centerbacks Felix Wu ’21 and Kyle Kelly ’21. Forward Ada Okorogheye ’23 excited the crowd with three imposing early runs at goal, but Amherst came away with no goals to show for his efforts.
Substitute midfielder Ignacio Cubeddu ’23 entered in the 25th minute and opened up the field for Amherst with quick control and distribution at the top of the midfield triangle.
The midfield, led by Cutler Coleman ’20, maintained a high level of pressure and kept the ball moving.
“Cutler is our heart and soul,” said head coach Justin Serpone. “He’s a total winner. His work rate on both sides of the ball is as good as any kid I’ve ever coached. He’s as important of a player to any team as there is on any team in the country.”
Goalkeeper Bernie White ’22 made one of his seven saves midway through the first half when Wesleyan forward Mason Davisson split two defenders and dribbled through the left side of the box. White confidently parried Davisson’s shot and maintained the 0-0 score.
After several fruitless attacks, the Amherst offense finally got on the scoreboard, courtesy of Giammattei. In the 41st minute, Giammattei slipped through a few Wesleyan centerbacks with an incisive dribble, and was then taken down about five yards from the goal. Amherst’s leading scorer smashed his subsequent penalty kick into the bottom left corner, giving the Mammoths a 1-0 lead.
Just after halftime, Giammattei continued his goal-scoring magic and sealed the game for Amherst. In the 54th minute, Nico Kenary ’22 launched a beautiful diagonal ball over the Wesleyan backline; Giammattei skied Wesleyan goalkeeper Liam Devanny to flick home a header, making the score 2-0 in favor of the Mammoths.
Giammattei’s second score of the game was his 12th NESCAC goal of the season, making him the leading NESCAC scorer so far.
The sophomore from Pinecrest, Florida, is now tied for third in DIII soccer goal-scoring.
When asked about this feat, Giammattei deflected the praise: “It’s nice, but honestly I couldn’t do it without my teammates. It’s more of a team effort.”
White deflected a powerful Cardinal header off of a corner, which seemed to be one of Wesleyan’s biggest chances to get back into the game. White and the rest of the Amherst defense kept Wesleyan at bay for the remainder of the contest to maintain the shutout. The masterful defensive effort added a sixth shutout in 10 games for the Mammoths.
With the key conference win, nationally-ranked Amherst’s record moves to 8-0-2 and 4-0-2 in league play, good for first place in the NESCAC. Wesleyan dropped to 4-2-3 overall and 1-2-3 in the NESCAC, lowering them to eighth place.
Amherst’s next game is a home clash on Hitchcock Field with Tufts on Saturday, Oct. 12, at 2:30 p.m. The battle between the top two teams in the NESCAC and DIII soccer is much anticipated, but to Serpone, it’s just another game.
“To be honest, I haven’t even thought about Tufts yet,” said Serpone. “It’s going to take our maximum effort in each area of the game. It’s not too often that you have No. 1 and No. 2 playing in a regular season game.”