The Middlebury win propelled Amherst to sixth in the NESCAC standings at 2-2-1 (5-3-1 overall), one game out of a tie for second place. After opening the season with two NESCAC losses, the Jeffs have played their way back into contention.
Amherst used the momentum from a 3-1 trouncing of 23rd-ranked Bowdoin College on Sept. 27 to come out cruising on all cylinders against Middlebury.
After a scoreless first half highlighted by the Jeffs’ defensive pressure and ball control, midfielder Adrienne Showler ’05 slipped behind the defense, collected a long ball from forward Tracy Montigny ’05 and sent it into the left corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead and the eventual game-winner at 52:06. Forward Ashley Harmeling ’05, who leads the NESCAC in goals, scored her tenth of the season at 80:01 to seal the Amherst victory.
Crowell, aided by a swarming defensive backfield, made three saves to shut out the high-powered Panther offense, which was coming off of a 7-0 massacre of Colby-Sawyer College.
“Piper’s performance was phenomenal as usual, and we couldn’t have pulled off this win without her,” said tri-captain Kay Bradley ’04. “In addition, we owe a lot to our defense, which despite our injured left fullback, Allison Heady [’06], managed to play a great game and give the team the defensive support we needed in order to come away with the win.”
The Middlebury victory was the second consecutive game in which Crowell and the defense proved their mettle. Earlier in the week, in a 1-0 loss that showcased a more notable defensive effort than Saturday’s performance, Crowell allowed an early goal by Wheaton’s Teresa Lebel before clamping down and almost single-handedly keeping Amherst in the match.
Crowell’s 14 saves held a furious offensive attack that averages 3.2 goals per game to just one.
“Piper kept us in the game against Wheaton and, as a result, we had a couple of chances to tie it up at the end,” said co-Head Coach Andrew Jones ’00. The first-year keeper was aided by the Jeffs’ backbone, a backfield led by Lyn Wojcik ’05, whose play Jones called “superb.”
In the end, Amherst did not have enough offense to beat a 10-1 Wheaton squad and fell 1-0 as several last-minute offensive flurries were turned away. The Lord Jeffs were nonetheless encouraged by the contest, and their mood showed against Middlebury several days later.
With four NESCAC games remaining, women’s soccer is hitting full stride. “It feels great to be moving up in the rankings,” said Bradley. The women must remain in the NESCAC’s top six through the end of the season to qualify for the NESCAC tournament, which commences in early November. This Saturday’s game against last-place Colby is a must-win.
“We are happy with how we played, but we don’t have time for complacency. Our focus is on getting better,” explained Jones.