While the experienced defense had high hopes coming into the season, the offense had much to prove. After losing its top three scorers from last year, Amherst had many concerns about its offensive attack as the 2005 campaign commenced. The Jeffs silenced any potential critics, though, as they out-shot the Bantams 19-2 en route to the victory. A pair of rookies emerged to do the scoring while the defense took care of the rest.
“Saturday’s performance was a great way to start off the season,” said junior defender Liz Foley. “Opening up with a strong win sets the tone for the season and makes a statement to our competition.”
The game remained a stalemate through the first 13 minutes, though both teams’ goalkeepers were tested early. The Jeffs turned the heat up on Trinity goalkeeper Tara Finucane in the 14th minute, though, leading to the first goal. Forward Amy Armstrong ’07 unleashed a barrage of shots on goal, forcing Finucane to make a pair of saves. The Bantam goalkeeper couldn’t keep up with the unyielding attack, and the Jeffs’ first-year striker Stephanie Yesnik found the net off of a pass from classmate Alanna Darling.
Amherst continued its unrelenting pressure throughout the first half, forcing Finucane to make seven saves on 12 shots. However, the pressure did not stop at halftime, as the Jeffs added another seven shots on goal and four corner-kicks in the second half. With a slim one-goal lead late in the game, Amherst finally punched the ball in for an insurance goal in the 82nd minute when rookie midfielder Mary Marvel netted a beautiful header off of a corner-kick from midfielder Heather Nowak ’08, sealing the 2-0 victory.
“The first-years really stepped it up on Saturday,” said Foley. “They had solid performances at every position and were responsible for both of our goals.”
Junior goalie Piper Crowell had no trouble blanking the Bantams, as a solid defensive front required her to make just two saves in her 11th career shutout. Amherst defenders Kaitlin Hill ’06, Margaret Chute ’06, Foley and rookie Kathryn Bentley collectively smothered Trinity’s attack throughout the game. In addition to limiting the Trinity offense to a mere two shots in the 90-minute game, the group prevented the Bantams from attempting a single shot on goal in the final 78 minutes of play.
“Despite the short time we’ve been together, we played great team soccer as we were able to maintain possession and hold Trinity to only two shots,” remarked Foley. “In the past, we’ve had a lot of trouble creating scoring opportunities and finishing our chances, but on Saturday, we attacked well and were able to finally put some in the back of the net.”
The Jeffs hope to build from the momentum of the season opener as they resume action at 4:30 p.m. today at non-conference opponent Eastern Connecticut State University (1-4). The team then travels to Lewiston, Me., to face-off against NESCAC foe Bates College (0-0) on Saturday.
As Amherst looks to rise to new heights in conference and national standings this season, the team is wary of becoming overconfident in their abilities so early in the season. “In the NESCAC, every game counts, and no team should be taken lightly,” said Foley. “If we can come out as hard as we did on Saturday for every game this season, we will be a tough team to beat.”