Jeffs relish role as Lyon tamers

After two losses the week before, Amherst was a team in need of a convincing win on Wednesday-which was exactly what Head Coach Carol Knerr got from her squad.

The first half was marked by even play; Amherst managed 13 shots to Mt. Holyoke’s nine, and both teams had seven penalty corners. However, the Jeffs made more of their opportunities than the Lyons, and with 3:44 left in the frame, midfielder Carolyn Shea ’08 backhanded a feed from forward Christa Porcaro ’08 into the back of the net.

A strong defensive effort highlighted by a stick save in front of the goal by defender Catherine Calvert ’09 prevented the Lyons from gaining momentum. Goalie Kathleen Boucher ’08 was a veritable wall in the cage for the Jeffs, turning away seven shots in the first half and an incredible 12 in the second for her second shutout of the season.

The Jeffs put the game away about 15 minutes into the second half as senior tri-captain forward Erin O’Hare put the ball in the cage off a penalty corner play. Midfielder Rachel Carr-Harris ’07 assisted.

While the win over Mt. Holyoke gave Amherst confidence in both its offense and defense, the team knew that Bowdoin would present stiffer competition. The Polar Bears entered the contest 2-0 in conference play and fresh off a penalty-shootout victory over the Williams College Ephs. In preparation, Knerr shuffled around the defense, swapping defender Amy Watson ’07 from sweeper to center back with Calvert, and swapping left defender Lauren Benson ’08 with defender Alyssa Dudzik ’09, who had been manning the right side. Knerr was rewarded with fine performances from all her defenders and with the play of Watson in particular.

“Amy Watson had an exceptional game at center back,” said tri-captain midfielder Katherine Skrivan ’06. “She not only played well defensively but really was able to start our attack from the backfield.”

Watson’s play highlighted a first half in which the Jeffs played as well as they have all season. However, neither team mustered much offensive pressure; Amherst got off one shot to Bowdoin’s four.

With the score at 0-0 at the end of the half, it looked like anybody’s game. However, 11:15 into the second half, the Polar Bears took control courtesy of an unassisted score by Burgess LePage.

LePage’s goal took the air out of Amherst’s sails. Bowdoin got off seven shots in the half to Amherst’s one, and despite a few penalty corner opportunities late in the game, the Polar Bears returned north still undefeated.

“I was proud of the way our team kept fighting,” said tri-captain forward Molly Gilbert ’06. “Even when we got down a few goals in the second half, we never stopped hustling.” Gilbert also endorsed the play of Watson, who “came up with some big tackles and really kept us in the game.”

On the bright side for Amherst, the Polar Bears defeated the Jeffs’ next opponent, Middlebury College, on Sunday by a score of 2-1. If Amherst can play as it did in the first half against Bowdoin, the Jeffs could come away from Saturday’s home game with a win and a chance to claw their way up the NESCAC standings. In preparation for Saturday’s tilt, Amherst hosts Western New England College at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow afternoon.

“Our goals are just to get back on track, and regain the confidence and compsure that we played with the first few games back,” concluded Skrivan.