Around the Herd: Nov. 28 to Dec. 5 in Athletics

Men's soccer ends their season with a loss in the national NCAA championship game; women's and men's basketball see exhilarating wins; and the women’s hockey team continues their strong start to the season.

Around the Herd: Nov. 28 to Dec. 5 in Athletics
The Mammoths fell 2-1 in overtime to St. Olaf College in the NCAA championship. Photo courtesy of Clarus Studios.

Men’s Soccer:

Amherst men’s soccer secured a spot in the national championship after a gripping NCAA Tournament semifinal match against Washington & Lee University that culminated in a 2-2 draw, followed by a tense penalty shootout. Amherst jumped out to an early 2-0 lead via forward Fynn Hayton-Ruffner ’25, who netted a spectacular half-volley, and a tally by Mohammed Nuhu ’27. However, the Generals fought back, scoring twice in the final 30 minutes. Both teams battled throughout overtime, with W&L dominating the offensive chances but being unable to break the deadlock due to standout play from goalkeeper Max Landa ’24. The game progressed to a penalty shootout, where Landa’s stellar performance continued, saving two shots and seeing two more hit the crossbar. Shawn Rapal ’24E sealed the deal, converting the kick that propelled the Mammoths to a 2-0 shootout victory and secured their spot in the final.

In the National Championship, the Mammoths fell 2-1 in overtime to MIAC champion St. Olaf College in a hard-fought contest. The Mammoths again scored first, with a goal from Luka Ohadike ’27 giving them a 1-0 lead, but St. Olaf fought back to equalize, sending the game to overtime. Just 78 seconds into extra time, the Olies capitalized on a Mammoths’ mistake and took the lead with a breakaway goal. Despite several opportunities, including a near miss from Ohadike and a point-blank Hayton-Ruffner chance, Amherst could not convert, and St. Olaf secured their first national title.

The Mammoths ended their season at 17-3-4 and finished as the national runner-up for the third time in four seasons. Despite the disappointment, Head Coach Justin Serpone commended his team’s remarkable effort and the enduring camaraderie within the Amherst soccer community. Wyatt McCarthy ’24, Simon Kalinauskas ’25, and Niall Murphy ’25, and Hayton-Ruffner earned All-Tournament honors for their outstanding contributions throughout their NCAA run.

Women’s Basketball:

On Saturday, Dec. 2, Amherst women’s basketball triumphed over Wesleyan by a score of 70-55 in a thrilling Little Three showdown. Laura Mendell ’25 dominated, pouring in a career-high 21 points to lead the Mammoths to victory. The game was tight throughout, with both teams struggling to maintain a lead. With the game tied at 29 at the half, back-to-back threes from Mendell and Kori Barach ’25 turned the tide in favor of the Mammoths. In a game where momentum swings defined the action, crucial plays from Mendell, Barach, and Reeya Patel ’24, along with a late-game offensive surge, secured Amherst’s victory. The Mammoths now look forward to their next game against SUNY-Poly at home on Friday, Dec. 8 at 5 p.m.

Men’s Basketball:

In an exhilarating comeback, men’s basketball overcame a 14-point deficit in the final 11 minutes to secure a 66-65 victory against Springfield College on Thursday Nov. 30. The Mammoths struggled to gain momentum and trailed for the entire game until a game-winning three-pointer from Johnny McCain ’27 in the final nine seconds. Amherst’s relentless charge was fueled by 14 points each from Marc Garraud ’27 and Mohammed Alausa ’24. Despite Springfield’s efforts to maintain their lead, strategic fouling and multiple Amherst steals culminated in McCain’s game-winning shot, sealing a remarkable win.

On Sunday, Mammoths secured a commanding 92-80 victory over Yeshiva University in a high-scoring showdown at LeFrak Gymnasium. Amherst surged early, initiating a 12-0 run with points from Bobby Sommers ’25, Will Scherer ’25, and C.J. Mitchell ’25, establishing an early 16-3 lead. Although Yeshiva closed the gap several times, their efforts were futile as the Mammoths built a 20-point lead that spelled the end for the Maccabees. Propelled by stellar performances from Sommers and Scherer, who contributed 18 points each, the Mammoths recorded a season-best 53.2 percent shooting percentage. However, after a last-second 73-71 loss to Albertus Magnus College, they fell to 5-3 on the season. Three different Mammoths had shots in the last five seconds to tie the game, but none of them could get the ball to fall. Amherst will look to rebound against York College on Thursday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.

Women’s Squash:

Amherst women’s squash secured consecutive 9-0 victories at the Davenport Squash Courts on Saturday, Dec. 2, triumphing over Mount Holyoke and Hamilton without conceding a single game. The Mammoths dominated against Mount Holyoke as Suraiya Khan Suri ’27 won at the eighth spot without dropping a single point, while Maggie Pearson ’24 conceded just one at the sixth spot. This outstanding performance was mirrored in their match against Hamilton, as Khan Suri and Thomas conceded only six points each, while Callie Delalio ’24 yielded just seven points in her 11-2, 11-2, 11-3 victory at the fourth spot. However, they could not keep this momentum going against NESCAC foe Trinity, who bested the Mammoths 8-1 in their final match of the week. Khan Suri picked up the lone win of the day, 3-0. The Mammoths will return to the court on Saturday, Dec. 9 at Tufts at 1 p.m.

Men’s Squash:

The Amherst College men's squash team secured an 8-1 victory against conference rival Hamilton College during their match on the afternoon of Saturday, Dec. 2 at the Davenport Squash Courts. In standout performances, Adam Lichtmacher ’24 clinched a hard-fought sweep at the top spot, winning all three games by narrow margins at 11-9, 11-4, and 13-11. Grady Herbert ’26 secured a comfortable win at the sixth spot 11-5, 11-5, 11-0. Similarly, Abhimanyu Gupta ’25 managed a sweep at No. 4, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8. However, they dropped their next match 8-0 to Trinity, moving their season record to 2-2. Next, the Mammoths will travel to Tufts on Saturday, Dec. 9 at 1 p.m.

Women’s Hockey

No. 3 Amherst women’s hockey remained undefeated this weekend, going 1-0-1 against No. 5 Middlebury in a two-game homestand at Orr Rink. In the first game on Friday, Dec. 1, the Mammoths made a statement with a 4-0 win that included goals from Maeve Reynolds ’26, Jayna Park ’24, and Rylee Glennon ’24. Though Middlebury dominated early, Reynolds flipped the script with a short-handed goal, roofing a shot past the Middlebury goaltender to take the lead. The Mammoths tallied again on a power play of their own, with Park netting off a rebound before scoring her second on a similar play: Marie-Eve Marleau ’26 controlled another rebound and fed Park for the finish. Despite facing pressure in the third, Glennon got the Mammoths’ fourth off an assist from Alyssa Xu ’25, and Natalie Stott ’26 made 31 saves to earn a shutout.

The Mammoths returned to the ice on Saturday, fighting back from a goal down to earn a tie in game two. Middlebury scored first, finding the back of the net on a power play with 16:24 left in the second period. Amherst leveled 15 minutes later, with Cara Mancini ’27 recording the first goal of her collegiate career off another rebound off a shot from Mary Thompson ’24 to tie the game at one-apiece. As Middlebury again pressured in the third, Stott played the hero: she made the save of the day by using her skate to pin the puck to the post just before it crossed the goal line and stopped two breakaway attempts in the final 30 seconds of the three-on-three overtime period to preserve the tie. Stott earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors after making 68 saves, including 20 combined in the third period and overtime of Saturday’s contest, and only allowing one goal in two games against the Panthers. The Mammoths will return to action at home for their Pink in the Rink game on Friday, Dec. 8 versus Manhattanville College at 7 p.m.

Men’s Hockey

The Amherst men’s hockey team got their first NESCAC win on Friday, Dec. 1, downing Little Three rival Wesleyan 4-1 before falling 3-0 to Trinity the following day. The Mammoths started the scoring early against the Cardinals, with Zachary Murray ’26 assisting a Jacob Pohl ’27 tally just 5:03 into the game. Wesleyan equalized seven minutes later and continued to threaten, but Mammoth goaltender Connor Leslie ’25 kept them in it, making pivotal saves to preserve the tie. Vincent Velocci ’27 eventually broke the deadlock off a pass from Pohl before Ben Ritter ’26 widened the margin to two by intercepting a Wesleyan pass and firing past the Cardinals’ goalie halfway through the second period. The Mammoths iced the game with another second-period goal from Josh Burke ’26 with just 1:26 to go in the period to account for the 4-1 final score. However, the Mammoths could not keep this momentum going, dropping a 3-0 decision to Trinity the following day to fall to 1-2 in the NESCAC and 3-3 overall. The Mammoths will look to right the ship on Friday, Dec. 8 on the road against rival Williams at 7 p.m.