Field hockey impressive thus far

The Jeffs have played nearly flawless field hockey this season posting a record of 8-2 thus far, and have dropped only one game to NESCAC competition. With overtime wins over Bowdoin and Smith Colleges, as well as other tight matches against Colby and Bates College, the Jeffs have played in a number of nail-biters yet have managed to remain composed and have emerged with crucial victories.

The match against Colby was certainly a tight one, but one that the Jeffs knew they could win. The first half of the match in Waterville, Maine featured a flurry of goals. Amherst forward Tyler Kelly ’05 buried the first goal of the game off an assist from Ryan. Colby responded in kind 20 minutes later. With the half drawing to a close Kelly struck again, putting the Jeffs up 2-1 heading into the final half of play.

Colby, however, came out reinvigorated in the second half, scoring the equalizer with 16 minutes remaining in the match. It was the last goal Colby would put past Katherine Skrivan ’06, who, filling in for netminding stalwart K.C. Cosentino ’05, performed admirably-especially for someone who hadn’t tended goal since her sophomore year in high school.

The Amherst captains did their part too. Ryan’s goal propelled the 17th-ranked Amherst team past the 19th-ranked Colby squad.

Amherst began the season with a victory over non-conference competitor Wellesley College, and then proceeded to win its next five games as well to begin the season 6-0. Amherst’s first NESCAC match came at home against the Tufts University Jumbos. The match was close, but the Jeffs came away with the 1-0 victory. The Jumbos attacked continuously throughout the game, totaling 24 shots on goal, but the Jeffs’ defense did an excellent job limiting the Jumbos’ quality chances. Goalie Cosentino was superb in net, earning her first shutout of the season.

Energized coming off of two victories, Amherst took on Smith College. In what proved to be the longest game of the season, Amherst outlasted Smith and won the game on penalty strokes after two halves of regulation play and two overtime periods. In the end, Ryan buried the game-winning penalty stroke, which thrilled the throng of Amherst fans who journeyed to watch their team play in Northampton.

With a 3-0 record the Jeffs took on the Bates Bobcats. Bates scored first but Amherst responded with a goal by forward Lauren Sozio ’04. The majority of the game was played in the midfield between two evenly matched teams. Just as it looked like the game was going to overtime Ryan powered through the Bobcats’ defense and scored the game-winner at the end of regulation. At the time, Jacobs explained, “Both of these games showed me that we have a tough team with a lot of heart. Even when the game isn’t going our way, each and every player digs in and gets it done.”

The next week in the Jeffs schedule produced another pair of victories, as Amherst extended its winning streak to six. The Jeffs easily bested Springfield College with a score of 3-0 with Ryan, Sozio and Skrivan contributing goals. This non-league match gave Amherst confidence going into a big match against previously undefeated NESCAC rival Bowdoin. The match against the Polar Bears really was a thriller. Tied at a goal apiece going into overtime, Cosentino had an amazing save to keep the Jeffs alive before midfielder Rachel Carr-Harris ’07 netted her first collegiate goal, the game-winner, off of a corner from Ryan.

Amherst dropped its next two matches, one to a strong Mount Holyoke College squad by a score of 3-1 and a second heartbreaker to an undefeated Middlebury College team by a score of 3-2. The losses were certainly disappointing, but Amherst bounced back with a victory against Keene State College.

A number of individuals have played stellar field hockey thus far and two Jeffs have been recognized by NESCAC. Cosentino was named NESCAC Player of the Week in early September after recording a shutout victory over Tufts. Cosentino was also named ECAC Goaltender of the Week as well as’s NCAA Div. III National Player of the Week. Skrivan was named NESCAC Co-Player of the week in September as well.

Amherst’s team play so far has been equally strong. Currently ranked 17th in the STX/NFHCA National Coaches Poll, they are near the top of the NESCAC league, having dropped only one conference match to Middlebury. This Saturday, Amherst hosts Little Three rival Wesleyan University in an important NESCAC match. Amherst lost 2-1 to Wesleyan in overtime last season.