Amherst men’s soccer began their two-game week on Saturday, Oct. 1, when they traveled to bitter rival No. 23 Williams College for an away NESCAC contest. The Mammoths started the first half off strong, dominating the flow of the game and notching 10 shots to Williams’ one. Sophomore Niall Murphy ’25 began the barrage with the first shot of the game. Two minutes after Murphy tested the Williams keeper, senior Bernie White ’23E made a save on the Ephs’ only shot of the half to keep the score at zero apiece. Responding to the Williams attack was sophomore Fynn Hayton-Ruffner ’25, whose strike missed just wide, and junior Declan Sung ’24E, whose header flew just over the bar.
The rest of the half continued in similar fashion, with Amherst clearly outplaying the Ephs offensively and locking them down defensively, but just missing the goal with each shot. The score remained 0-0 at halftime.
Coming into the second half, the Mammoths looked to continue their first-half dominance. However, 10 minutes in, sophomore Laurens ten Cate ’25 recorded a second yellow card, with the resulting red sending him off the field. This left Amherst down a man with much of the second half left to be played.
Despite the advantage, Williams was unable to capitalize, as Amherst played with the same tenacity that they had in the first half, without changing their attacking style; if you turned on the live stream, you would never have known they were playing with 10 men. But the Williams defense remained strong until the final whistle, keeping both teams scoreless. With the draw, the Mammoths now have a 5-1-3 record in the NESCAC for this season, sitting in seventh place overall.
“Obviously, it was unfortunate that we had to play a majority of the second half versus Williams a man down, but I thought we were still dangerous,” said Aidan Curtis ’25. “As a team we know we can do better, and we need to focus on how to get as many points [as possible] from the remaining games.”
And with that in mind, the team’s focus shifted to their next game, when the Mammoths took on Worcester Polytechnic Institute on the road at Alumni Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
As in their game three days prior, Amherst couldn’t seem to find their offensive rhythm early in the contest — Sung took the first five shots of the game for the Mammoths, and the team only recorded one shot on frame in the entire first half — but managed to keep the game tied with good defensive play and solid goalkeeping from White.
After 55 minutes of back and forth play, Amherst finally found their breakthrough. After a long throw from Alex Shahmirzadi ’23E was cleared by the Goats’ defense, Micah Valdez-Bush ’25 roped a cross to Hayton-Ruffner for a wide open header that found the top right corner. The goal was Hayton-Ruffner’s team-leading fifth of the season. But that was the game’s only goal, and while Amherst didn’t get on the scoreboard again, their defense handled the rest, and the team left Worcester with a 1-0 win and a 6-1-3 overall record.
With that momentum in hand, the Mammoths will look to move up the NESCAC standings with two important home contests this weekend. First, they will take on Wesleyan on Saturday, Oct. 8 at 2:30 p.m. before facing Bowdoin on Sunday, Oct. 9, the team’s Senior Day, at the same time.