Jeffs topple Bantams, whip Mules

The Jeffs took an undefeated mark into their NESCAC opener on March 26 at Trinity and hammered the Bantams. The offense posted five-goal quarters in the second and fourth frames during a 12-goal effort. At the same time, the defense held Trinity to a 52-minute scoring drought and only two goals in total.

“Our game had been cancelled mid-week, so everyone was ready to go,” said co-captain goalie Cushing Donelan ’05. “Our defense played very well, and we shut them down. Lots of people stepped up to score in this game.”

Alex Casertano ’05 led the attack with a hat trick, followed by midfielder Sean Murray ’06 with two goals. Donelan anchored the defense with seven saves.

The win put the Jeffs at the top of the NESCAC standings. “It showed us that we have what it takes to be a great team,” said Donelan.

However, the Jeffs suffered a setback when they travelled to Tufts four days later. Despite holding onto a scoreless tie for the first 13:34, they were down 8-0 heading into the fourth quarter. Castertano had a hand in both of Amherst’s goals-scoring one and dishing out an assist-but the Jumbos managed nine scores as they handed the Jeffs their first loss of the season, 9-2.

“It was just an ugly game, and we did not play with urgency,” said Donelan. “However, losing is always a gift, because there is so much to learn from it. So we are happy that it happened now rather than in the NESCAC tournament.”

If the loss affected the Jeffs’ confidence, they didn’t show it against Colby. “We stayed positive for the rest of the week and came out on Saturday ready to play,” said tri-captain defender Greg Donohue ’05.

Amherst cruised to an 11-4 victory against the Mules despite slippery conditions and hail during warmups.

“We jumped out early against Colby, which helped,” said Donohue. “Our attack was great on their rides and the defense cleared well. Both were severe problems against Tufts, so it was nice to see an improvement.”

Scott Aldrich ’05, Andrew Wilcox ’06, Donohue and Donelan (affectionately known as “The Wall”) were outstanding on defense, as the Jeffs held Colby to two one-goal quarters in the first half and posted a shutout in the third quarter.

Sophomore attackers Chris Hofmann and Derek Cherney notched three goals each and handed out two and one assist, respectively. Midfielder Josh Cherney ’05 also had a multiple-goal game, posting two scores, while attacker Andrew Syfu ’05 had an impressive 6-13 faceoff record.

“We had been playing very well on offense, possessing the ball and finishing efficiently in all the games up to the Tufts contest,” said Hofmann. “It was good to come back against Colby, get back into an offensive rhythm and have a lot of players contribute.”

The season is young, but the Jeffs are off to a great start. They are currently 4-1 and ranked 12th in the nation. However, their loss to Tufts places them fifth in the NESCAC standings. Bowdoin and Middlebury Colleges as well as Bates and Tufts still have perfect NESCAC records.

“The loss hurts us in the NESCAC because it knocks us out of first place. It also makes it a little more difficult for us to make the NCAA playoffs,” said tri-captain midfielder Colby Griffith ’05. “Now we pretty much have to hope that other teams in our league, such as Middlebury and Tufts, lose, and we have to win the rest of our games or win the NESCAC Tournament to get a bid.”

Still, the Jeffs are far from giving up. They have yet to play three of the top four NESCAC teams, and Amherst victories could put the Jeffs right back on top.

Without a doubt, the Jeffs certainly have their work cut out for them this week. “We need to focus more now than ever,” said Donohue. “We have only had five games, and the season is going to pick up this week. We are progressing well, but this is a very important week-we have Middlebury this Saturday. The team is coming together, and the seniors are leading by example.”

The Jeffs will travel to Western New England College tonight before heading to Middlebury on Saturday.