The first loss of the weekend came at the hands of archrival Williams College. Amherst started the game extremely well, taking a 2-0 lead. A.J. Greco ’06 scored just 48 seconds into the game and first-year Sean Ellis scored his fifth goal of the year just over six minutes later on a power play.
Williams responded with 10:50 to go in the first period, when Devon O’Rourke tallied his team-leading 10th goal of the season. O’Rourke’s goal spurred a flurry of Williams scoring, which ended with four unanswered goals-three within a nine minute span during the first period.
“It was a pretty tough game,” said Rob Balanda ’06. “We were down 3-2 after two periods and we were hoping to get out there and score an early equalizer in the third period. Unfortunately, they got one instead.” Williams’ fourth goal effectively ended Amherst’s chances for a win.
Junior co-captain Beau Kretzman’s team-leading 11th goal of the season five minutes into the third period was not enough to bring Amherst back, as the Jeffs left Williamstown with a 4-3 defeat. “It was a pretty close game and both teams played hard,” said Balanda.
After the heartbreaking loss to the Ephs, Amherst traveled to Middlebury College to face the first-ranked Panthers. Amherst was subject to an offensive explosion at Middlebury, as first-year goalie Josh Fillman faced 33 shots through the first two periods of play.
Amherst kept the game close until late in the first period when, with the game tied 1-1, Panther standout and reigning NESCAC Player of the Week John Cooper scored his 20th goal of the season. He added another goal and two more assists by the time the game ended.
Cooper leads the NESCAC in goals scored, points and points per game. Last week, Cooper became the all-time leading scorer in Middlebury College history with 82 career goals.
After Cooper’s first goal, Middlebury scored twice more in the next four minutes to take a commanding 4-1 lead. Josh Hoffman ’04 netted his fourth goal of the season late in the third period for the Jeffs, but Middlebury defeated Amherst 7-2 to prolong the Jeffs’ losing streak.
Amherst plays both Tufts University and Connecticut College at Orr Rink this weekend. Amherst should be able to end its losing ways against both of these NESCAC cellar-dwellers. The Tufts Jumbos and Conn. College Camels have a combined 5-21-2 record in conference play and rank ninth and 10th in the NESCAC, respectively.
Tufts has played better as of late, amassing a 5-4-1 record in their last 10 games. The Jumbos are led by forward Ken Cleary, who has scored 15 goals on the season. Their goalie, Ben Crapser, has also been excellent, posting a .886 save percentage on the season.
Conn has been stuck in a terrible slide. After winning three of their first four games of the season, the Camels have lost 13 of their last 15. Yet, Conn is coming off a big win against UMass-Boston last week. They also fought hard in a recent game against Babson College, coming within one goal with five minutes remaining in the third period. With Amherst returning home, the chances are very good that the Jeffs will pick up two extremely important wins.