Jeffs look to close strong

Ranked 18th nationally in the pre-season poll, the Jeffs began their quest for the NESCAC Championship with a 2-0 opening-day victory over visiting Trinity College on September 10th. Rookies Stephanie Yesnik and Mary Marvel quickly made their names known across the league, each recording their first career goal in the contest.

After a disappointing 1-1 tie at Eastern Connecticut State University on Sept. 14th, Amherst bounced back three days later to defeat conference opponent Bates College on the road. Amy Armstrong ’07 led the attack for the Lord Jeffs, posting a goal and a pair of assists in the win. Sophomore forward Heather Nowak also had an assist and scored the game-winning goal on Armstrong’s assist.

Amherst then rode their momentum into a 2-0 non-conference victory over Springfield College on September 20th. First-year midfielder Natalie Farraiolo put the Jeffs on the board early, scoring just seven minutes into the contest off a feed from fellow midfielder Lesley Pruzansky ’07.

The Jeffs attack was slowed greatly, though, over the course of the next few weeks. Entering their game with Tufts University, Amherst held a 3-0-1 record and the top spot in the NESCAC conference. Amherst suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Jumbos however, beginning what would become a three-game skid.

The Jeffs then lost a pair of heartbreaking 1-0 losses to Wheaton College and 18th-ranked Bowdoin College respectively. Despite tremendous offensive pressure and solid defense, the Jeffs were simply unable to find the goal during their losing streak, with Pruzansky notching the lone goal versus Tufts.

“We have had a slower season than predicted at the start, but we are confident that we can finish the regular season strong and go into the post-season ready to win,” said senior co-captain Sarah Coleman.

After being washed out against Middlebury College, the Lord Jeffs used a 13 day break to recuperate and prepare for the home stretch of the season. Amherst came out firing against local rival Mt. Holyoke College last Thursday, posting a 4-0 victory and overcoming their slump. Pruzansky tallied a pair of assists and scored a goal to lead the offensive, as Jenny Muller ’07, Alana Darling ’09 and Coleman each found the net.

Amherst followed with a hard-fought scoreless tie in a torrential downpour at Colby College last weekend. Junior goaltender Piper Crowell, who has had a hand in all four Amherst shutouts this season, recorded a season-high 12 saves in the game. Crowell is currently ranked third in the NESCAC with a 0.93 goals against average.

Following an impressive 3-0 shutout at Connecticut College on Wednesday, Amherst now holds a 5-3-2 record (3-2-1 NESCAC). With just three games left to play, the team must now look ahead to a pivotal weekend in NESCAC play. Saturday’s Homecoming contest against Wesleyan University promises to be extremely competitive especially considering the nature of the rivalry. The Jeffs must then quickly rebound to host Middlebury College in a rescheduled game on Sunday.

A successful weekend should set up a crucial showdown next weekend when the team heads up to Williamstown, Mass. to take on the Ephs of Williams College. With a history of bad blood and a high seed in the NESCAC tournament on the line, the game should leave little to be desired.

“With more and more players becoming scoring threats, we are looking to go 3-0 in the next three games to improve our record,” said Coleman. “We are ready to prove to the conference that we are one of the best teams in the league.”

With an impenetrable defensive line and an abundance of talented young scorers, Amherst is set to charge into the postseason.