In a whirlwind weekend, the women’s soccer team headed to the playoffs as the second seed following a 2-1 loss to Trinity College on Friday before winning its quarterfinal match against seventh-ranked Bowdoin at home on Sunday. The Jeffs are now 7-6-2 overall.
Before the game against Trinity, the Jeffs honored seniors Maureen Griffin, Caitlin O’Malley, Jackie Hirsch, Kyla Woodhouse and Claire Galiette. Since 2007, the crop of seniors has a compelling 38-19-10 record.
Trinity’s Heather Lyhne put away the first goal of the game off a teammate’s cross with 7:56 left in the first half of the Jeffs’ final regular-season match. And just three and a half minutes later, the Bantams struck again. Goalkeeper Allie Horwitz ’12 just got her hands on the shot but couldn’t hold onto it.
First-year Sarah Duffy responded with her first goal of the season with 2:56 left before halftime.
The Trinity goalkeeper punched away an Amherst cross but Duffy got to the ball in the middle of the box and sent her shot in on the keeper’s right. Duffy’s was the last goal of the game, which was scoreless in the second half.
It wasn’t for lack of trying on Amherst’s part, however, as the Jeffs almost scored again within the first two minutes of the second half. Amanda Brisco ’14 got free for a close-range shot but was denied by the Trinity keeper.
Trinity almost went up 3-1 with 11 minutes left in the game but an epic diving save from Horwitz kept the Jeffs within range. And with a mere 20 seconds remaining, Emily Little ’13 almost tied it up with a dramatic bicycle kick in the box, but the Trinity keeper blocked the attempt.
The Jeffs had a 9-3 advantage in shots in the second half but couldn’t get past Trinity keeper Lilly Pepper. Pepper entered the game leading the NESCAC in goals-against average and save percentage.
Following the loss, the Jeffs came back to beat Bowdoin 3-2 Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals at Hitchcock field.
Bowdoin was first on the scoreboard after Ellery Gould took on goalkeeper Horwitz one-on-one. The Jeffs then evened it up in the 14th minute. Senior Jackie Hirsch dribbled past the Bowdoin defense and goalkeeper and put away a shot on an open net.
Sarah Duffy ’14 gave the Lord Jeffs an edge in the 38th minute with a 30-yard shot that was lobbed just over the Bowdoin keeper to put the Jeffs up 2-1.
Bowdoin responded just five minutes into the second half, tying up the game once again. Brisco ultimately scored the game-winning goal with a shot to the lower right corner in the 64th minute. The Jeffs had a 20-5 advantage for shots and a 9-0 advantage for corner kicks.
The Jeffs are now the highest-ranked team left in the playoffs after top-seeded Tufts lost to eighth-ranked Bates. They will host Bates in Saturday’s semifinals at 11 a.m. , while Middlebury and Williams will play in the other semifinals match.
Two consecutive wins set the tone this weekend as the men’s soccer team began its postseason. Friday’s game, the last before NESCAC semifinals, was a close match against Trinity College.
Head coach Justin Serpone, however, remained keenly aware of the unpredictability of the NESCAC seeding, saying that the Jeffs could “finish as high as second and as low as fourth depending on how the results go with the rest of the league on Friday.”
The 1-0 score sealed the Lord Jeffs into the No. 4 seed, at a minimum, in the NESCAC Championships, in addition to increasing the team winning streak to five games. The loss disqualified the Bantams from postseason competition, as it dropped them into a three-way tie for eighth place in the conference.
The first and deciding goal came early on in Friday’s game, but the Jeffs were rearing for a strike long before that. The action picked up when top scorer Spencer Noon ’13 played the ball to Chris Lerner ’13. Lerner sent a strong shot towards the net, but the Bantam goalie got there too soon and sent the ball flying.
However, within minutes, Amherst’s strong offensive attach was back, this time led by Alejandro Sucre ’13. The Lord Jeffs pressured Trinity’s defense and the lanky sophomore was able to head the ball into the net just 23 minutes into the game.
After that, Amherst applied consistent pressure for the rest of the game. The Trinity goalie held strong, however, making six saves after allowing the initial goal.
As the last game for graduating seniors Ian Rothkopf, Mark Crane, Chris Linsmayer, Thebe Tsatsimpe and Chris Skayne, the team celebrated its win for that day as well as the four successful seasons in which those seniors have played. Since 2007, the men’s soccer team has compiled a dazzling 51-11-8 (24-7-5 NESCAC) record. And with that record intact and in mind, the Jeffs were ready for a postseason showdown.
Sunday’s game against Colby began the 2010 NESCAC Championship. During the regular season, the Lord Jeffs narrowly beat the Mules 1-0.
The fourth-ranked Lord Jeffs came out strong against fifth-seeded Colby, as Noon laced a ball just past the top left corner of the goal within two minutes of the opening whistle. Then, 24 minutes into the first half, junior James Mooney capitalized on an opportunity in the box and made the first goal.
The Mules took an aggressive turn in the second half of the game, as they applied more pressure. Colby’s strong offense also led to many close calls.
However, any of the balls Jeffs goalie Lennard Kovacs didn’t stop, and there were not very many, strayed wide of the Amherst goal.
With a 23-10 lead in shots and 13-3 lead in corners, the Jeffs didn’t have much trouble corralling scoring chances, as both Sucre and Noon eventually got on the board.
“There are four teams in the NESCAC right now with a winning percentage over .800,” Coach Serpone emphasized when asked about this year’s competition. “There isn’t a more competitive league in the country. As we head into the postseason we need to understand how hard it’s going to be to get results.” And with a field stacked with competitive NESCAC rivals, Amherst will be facing a tall task.
The team’s upcoming game pits them against undefeated Middlebury at Bowdoin. During the regular season, the Lord Jeffs lost a close one to Middlebury 1-0, and certainly have proven that they’ve got what it takes to beat the top-seeded team. Whether or not they can pull it all together this weekend remains to be seen.