Coming off of a disappointing loss to Bowdoin College in early October, the Jeffs traveled to New London, Conn., before fall break for a mid-week competition against conference rival Connecticut College. The Jeffs came out strong and immediately took the lead with a well-placed goal by rookie forward Nicholas Lynch off an assist from sophomore midfielder Taylor Downs just 13 minutes into the first half.
Having relaxed on their advantage, the Jeffs were startled when the Camels launched a counterattack around the 30-minute mark and were able to slot a beautiful far post shot past rookie goalkeeper Jeff Glover to level the score. Though shaken by this unexpected retaliation, the Jeffs remained collected and put forth a worthy effort marked by 10 serious challenges to goal before the break. Although the first half drew to a close at an even draw, defender Rob Madden ’07 reflected that the score was “in no way telling of how that match was being played.”
“There was no way we could let another team remain in the match after being outplayed,” Madden said. With this single-minded attitude, Amherst persisted in trying the Conn. goalkeeper and successfully tilted the tie score with 25 minutes remaining when Lynch finished his second goal of the game off a well-played cross from senior forward Joe Gannon. Just three minutes later, senior midfielder Jay Kloppenberg drew a penalty kick which Gannon finished in spectacular fashion to pad the lead. Soon after, Kloppenberg also found the back of the net, scoring his first career goal off an assist from rookie forward Jake Duker. The Jeffs concluded the match with a 4-1 win over the Camels.
The Amherst men then returned after fall break to face non-conference rival Western New England College (WNEC), a team that came to Hitchcock Field ranked 23rd in the country and third in New England. While the Jeffs intended to build on their victory over the Camels, the Golden Bears had other plans for the afternoon match.
Dynamic play in the Jeffs’ defensive third by defenders senior Jeremy Kelley, along with rookie Grayson Holland and sophomore John Kneeland, held WNEC to only two shots in the first half, both of which senior goalkeeper Greg Lockwood saved in characteristic impressive form. After a fruitless first stanza, the heated match continued without score until Golden Bear Paul Russo found the goal off a pass from teammate Kofi Oteng with only 10 minutes remaining. The game came to a close at a disappointing 1-0 loss for Amherst.
This unexpected and upsetting home defeat, however, was just the fuel the Jeffs needed for their upcoming weekend match against conference competitors from Colby College. Arriving at Colby at midnight on a rainy game day, circumstances were not favorable for Saturday’s competition. Nevertheless, the Jeffs were able to overcome the five-hour drive, late-night arrival and the torrential downpour resulting in poor field conditions. Hungry for another conference win, Amherst mounted the scoreboard at the 18-minute mark when Duker snuck a ball through the Colby defense to Lynch. The Jeffs continued their offensive pursuit, padding their lead with a goal by forward Mike Wohl ’07 off an assist from senior Adrien de Bontin in the final minutes of the period.
Play began to decline as the rain picked up in the second half. “We are a technical team,” explained Madden, “and those usually do not benefit from the rain.” As field conditions deteriorated, so did much of defensive play on both sides of the field. An Amherst defensive lull in the first minutes of the second period allowed Colby to constrict Amherst’s lead when a finish by Mule sophomore Mike Butler put Colby on the board. Luckily, Wohl capitalized on Colby’s subsequent defensive collapse, scoring his second goal of the game at the 69-minute mark. Wohl was in a rhythm and notched another goal in the 79th minute, securing the Amherst lead and completing his first collegiate hat trick.
The Amherst men will take the field again tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. in a critical game against visiting conference rival Middlebury College.