Coming into the Trinity Invitational with a 7-4 record, the Lord Jeffs had shown the ability to consistently hold off teams ranked in the mid- to upper-teens, defeating solid teams from Tufts University, and Hamilton and Middlebury Colleges to start the season. Faced with another such opponent in St. Lawrence, the Jeffs proved that they were once again up to the challenge by dominating the Saints, 8-1. Only one Amherst player lost a single game and the one match the Jeffs ceded was exceedingly close, as sophomore Emily O’Brien won the first game at the three spot and narrowly lost two others, both by scores of 10-8.
Despite their dominance against teams ranked below them, the Jeffs have had a difficult time with the teams ranked above. So far this year Amherst has lost to Brown, Dartmouth and Princeton Universities-all of which were ranked either sixth or seventh when they played the Jeffs. Most painfully, the team slipped one spot from its preseason ranking of 10 when Amherst lost a tight 5-4 match against the then 11th-ranked team from Cornell University. Amherst had defeated Cornell 5-4 to close the 2003-04 season.
At the Trinity Invitational, the Jeffs had a chance to get that monkey off their backs and to regain their position amongst the top 10 teams in the country with a match against the ninth-ranked Bates College Bobcats. Coming into the game, the Jeffs knew the competition would be close, as the Bobcats had beaten them by just one individual match at last season’s Howe Cup tournament.
“We were excited for the match. Everyone prepared for it more than any other match so far this season,” said rookie Libby Martin ’08. “We all went into it with a really good mindset.”
Although Bates was able to take the victory by a score of 7-2, the Jeffs got the close match they were looking for, a match that was significantly closer than the score would indicate. Amherst lost two five-game matches and three four-game matches with only two Jeffs putting up goose eggs. Martin’s match was as close as it could possibly get, as each of the five games came down to a 10-8 score. Senior co-captains Ashley Harmeling and Ali Gibbs displayed their leadership by coming away with the two Amherst victories in the one and five spots, respectively.
Despite their narrow defeat at the hands of the Bobcats, the team still has plenty of opportunities to prove themselves, and they did just that last night against neighboring Mt. Holyoke College before heading into this weekend’s Little Three Championships. The Jeffs knocked off the Lyons 9-0, completing Amherst’s sweep of Five College opponents-the Jeffs easily handled the Smith College Pioneers two weeks ago.
Following the Little Three matches the Jeffs will have just one more contest before the National Championships. There they will likely have grudge matches against both Cornell and Bates. “Everyone wants to beat Cornell and Bates because they were so close,” said Martin, emphasizing that revenge would be a great way to end an excellent season.