Men's hoops leads way in winter
The men’s basketball team ended an impressive season with its first-ever trip to the Div. III Final Four. The Jeffs were ranked as high as first in the nation and finished the year ranked fourth in the country by D3hoops.com. While advancing to the Final Four for the first time in school history, the Jeffs demolished Amherst’s single-season records for wins (27) and winning percentage (84.4 percent).
The men blew past the competition in the NCAA Tournament, winning their first three games by an average of over 19 points per game. A balanced scoring attack paced Amherst during the tournament, with three different leading scorers over the five games. Senior tri-captains John Donovan and Adam Harper led Amherst through the tournament, with Donovan scoring a career-high 25 points twice en route to the Final Four.
After an impressive 92-70 win over Franklin and Marshall University in the national quarterfinals, Amherst faced Little Three rival Williams College in the semifinals. Amherst had already faced Williams three times during the season, splitting in the regular season and losing in the NESCAC Championship game. In a nationally televised game from Salem, Va., Amherst fell to Williams, 86-81. The game was close throughout and the score was tied 77-77 with 2:39 left to play. Williams prevailed as Mike Crotty sank a jumper to give the Ephs a four-point lead with one minute left. Despite two Jeff baskets, the Ephs protected their lead, going 6-6 from the foul line in the final minute. Amherst was led by Harper, who scored 26 points.
Over the course of the season Harper shatterd Amherst’s all-time record for career steals (321) and also broke the single-season record for steals (105). He was named NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row and was also named First-Team All-NESCAC. In addition, he was selected to the D3hoops.com First-Team All-Northeast Region, earned NABC First-Team All-Northeast honors and was selected to play in the New England Basketball Coaches Association (NEBCA) Div. III All-Star game along with Donovan. Junior Andrew Schiel earned a Second-Team All-NESCAC nod, was selected to the D3hoops.com Second-Team All-Northeast Region and was a D3Hoops.com All-America honorable mention. Head Coach Dave Hixon ’72 was named NEBCA Div. III Coach of the Year.
Swimming and Diving
The men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams finished with perfect 9-0 and 10-0 records during the regular season, winning a pair of Little Three Championships for the first time ever.
The women finished third in the NESCAC Championships and eighth in the Div. III National Championships, bolstered by record-breaking times in the medley relays and junior Kate Shaw’s fourth-place finish in the three-meter diving competition. The highlight of the regular season was an upset win over Williams College on Jan. 10. The two individual wins garnered by Margaret Ramsey ’07 against Williams earned her NCAA Div. III Swimmer of the Week honors from Collegeswimming.com.
The men finished second at NESCACs and seventh at Nationals, the team’s best finish ever. Despite the absence of any experienced divers, the men squeaked by Williams in the regular season, 123-120, for the Jeffs’ second straight Little Three title. Mike Pohorylo ’04 put together the finest season of his career, winning national championships in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke events and setting NESCAC and Amherst records in the process.
The women’s basketball team started the season on an impressive win streak but fizzled down the stretch to finish with an 11-14 (3-6) record. The Jeffs started the season by winning six of their first eight games, taking the Vassar Invitational and posting a 2-0 record in the Pioneer Valley Classic.
Amherst earned the sixth seed in the NESCAC Tournament, falling in a heartbreaker to Bates College in the first round. Amherst was leading 30-19 at halftime before Bates mounted its comeback, outscoring Amherst 12-4 over the final five minutes. The Jeffs were led by senior quad-captain Shannon Russell and sophomore Katie Latham. Russell scored 24 points and Latham pulled down 12 rebounds in the loss.
Big wins over NESCAC rivals Trinity and Connecticut Colleges at the end of the regular season and the excellent showing against powerhouse Bates bode well for the Jeffs next season. Amherst will particularly miss quad-captains LaShauna Barboza, Marissa McGuire, Caitlin Farrell and Russell. Russell leaves as Amherst’s second all-time leading scorer and all-time leading three-point shooter. Farrell is the second all-time leading shot blocker in Amherst women’s basketball history.
Men’s Ice Hockey
After a magical run to start the season, men’s hockey finished at .500 with an 11-11-3 (6-10-2) record. The team began the season 7-1-2 and was ranked 13th in the nation. After beating Trinity College 2-1 on Jan. 9, Amherst dropped eight of the next 10 games, falling out of the national spotlight. However, the Jeffs bounced back with big wins over NESCAC rivals Tufts University and Connecticut College in order to secure the seventh seed in the NESCAC Tournament.
The Jeffs fell 3-0 to Trinity in the first round of the tournament, stifled by Bantam goalie Douglas Kiselius. Kiselius stopped 30 shots en route to the shutout. Amherst first-year goalie Dan Smith played a stellar game as well, allowing two goals on 33 shots.
The Jeffs should improve next season, as they retain their top three leading scorers, Beau Kretzman ’05, AJ Greco ’06 and Steve Nelson ’06. Kretzman, Amherst’s leading scorer for the past two seasons, was named Second-Team All-NESCAC. He has been named All-NESCAC each of the past three seasons, earning First-Team All-NESCAC honors in 2002-2003.
Women’s Ice Hockey
The Jeffs broke the team record for wins in a season (13) and earned the fifth seed in the NESCAC Tournament. More impressively, Amherst eclipsed last year’s win total by 10, a turnaround engineered by first-year Head Coach Jim Plumer. After falling to 8-9 after a 7-0 loss to Middlebury College, Amherst won five of the last six regular-season games to charge into postseason play. Amherst fell 6-1 at Hamilton College in the first round, but the early exit did not overshadow the immense strides forward the Jeffs made this season.
Senior co-captain Ali White led Amherst with 11 goals and had 12 assists, finishing second on the team in points. Sophomore Renee Sisti was the team leader in points and goals with 26 and 14, respectively. The Jeffs had a particularly strong first-year class this year, with three rookies in the top five in points and standout Lindsay Grabowski playing every minute of the season in net. Grabowski was excellent between the pipes, posting a .871 save percentage on the season. Rookie defender Rachel Simon was the first-ever Jeff to be named to an All-NESCAC squad, as she earned Second-Team honors after scoring 14 goals and adding eight assists. Things can only get better for Amherst as the underclassmen mature and the team has more time to play together as a unit.
The men’s squash team finished the regular season ranked 11th in the nation with a 10-9 record. In the Hoehn Division (for teams ranked ninth-16th in the nation) of the College Squash Association (CSA) Team Championships, the Jeffs defeated Franklin and Marshall University before falling to Hobart and Bates Colleges.
Amherst defeated Franklin and Marshall in an intense 5-4 match. Wins by Amherst’s sixth- through ninth-seeded players cemented the win. In the losses to Hobart and Bates, the seventh- through ninth-seeded players were undefeated, but the top of the ladder was unable to pull out wins in a few marathon matches as the Jeffs fell 5-4 in both losses. The losses dropped Amherst’s national ranking to 13th.
Junior Michael Strong finished 54th in the national individual rankings and first-year Auloke Mathur finished 69th. The Jeffs return seven of their top nine players, including their top three: Strong, Mathur and junior Gifford Sommerkamp.
The Jeffs finished the season ranked 10th in the nation, their most impressive finish in recent years, after going 2-1 in the Kurtz Cup (for teams ranked ninth-16th) at the Howe Cup Nationals. Amherst defeated Vassar College and Cornell University before losing to Bates College.
Amherst dominated Vassar, winning 9-0, before facing Cornell. Amherst had lost to Cornell once during the regular season, with five of the top six seeds losing. In this match, the Jeffs turned the tables on the Big Red, as wins by three of Amherst’s top five seeds drove the Jeffs to a 5-4 victory. Ashley Harmeling ’05, Ali Gibbs ’05 and Emily O’Brien ’07 were undefeated in the Kurtz Cup.
Harmeling finished the season ranked 30th in the national individual rankings, reaching the consolation quarterfinals in the Ramsay Cup (for the top 36 players). First-year Caroline Shannon reached the consolation quarterfinals in the Holleran Cup (for the 37th-72nd ranked players). Amherst retains seven of its top nine seeds next season, including all of the team’s top five.
The men and women made an impact on the national and regional levels this season with a number of record-breaking times. The women were led by Carter Hamill ’05, who earned a national title at NCAAs in the 5000m. The women’s distance medley relay (DMR) team of Hamill, Shauneen Garrahan ’07 and sophomores Ginger Polich and Ariel Haney placed second at Nationals.
The men’s team placed ninth at Div. III New Englands, propelled by a third-place finish in the 5000m by Mike Page ’05, who broke a 20-year old school record in the process. The men’s DMR of senior tri-captain Janak Chandrasoma, and juniors Jack Morgan, Dave Molina and Page finished sixth at Nationals.