That all changed Saturday morning in a span of 12 minutes, in which the Jeffs scored three goals and seized their third NESCAC victory of the season. The scoring blitz leveled Bowdoin College, which had been enjoying a 1-0 lead, but also notified the rest of NESCAC that Amherst plans to be this class’ top student.
As the game between Amherst and Bowdoin got underway Saturday morning, it became clear that Amherst was the aggressor. The Jeff midfield lofted long balls repeatedly over the unsuspecting heads of the Polar Bears defenders, and then the Amherst attackers eluded further pressure with deft moves and touch passes. But while the Jeffs kept the ball in the Bears’ half, they had difficulty generating quality scoring opportunities early on in the game. Bowdoin, which was struggling to move the ball through the viscous Amherst midfield, struck first. Late in the first half, the Bears moved the ball quickly up the right sideline. Andrew Russo made a couple of quick moves and found himself one-on-one with Amherst keeper Greg Lockwood ’06. Lockwood tried to cut down the angle, but Russo blasted a shot up and over the sprawling net minder for the game’s first goal.
Amherst, surprised to be down a goal after 40 minutes of domination, began to unravel. Frustration showed on the Jeffs’ faces and half-time couldn’t come soon enough. But Amherst would pull it together at the half.
“Our team was upset that the scoreboard showed we were losing, because we outplayed them and outhustled them the whole half,” said forward Mike Wohl ’07. “But our coach told us that playing better soccer than the opponent will pay off in the long run.”
Amherst got the equalizer at 59:14 off a corner kick from forward Joe Gannon ’06. Quad-captain defender Mike York ’04, Amherst’s latest offensive weapon, got his head on the Gannon corner and redirected it past the Bowdoin goalie for the score. Just eight minutes later, Wohl netted a pass from midfielder Ian Lovett ’06 to take the lead.
Lovett sealed the deal only four minutes later with a goal of his own. Defender Brad Coffey ’04, who often surprises opposing defenses by lofting throw-ins deep in the penalty area, sent this throw-in to Lovett, who deposited it in the back of the net. Amherst held on for the win, raising its conference record to 3-0.
Last Wednesday, the Jeffs had another big win when they trounced visiting Babson College 5-0. Wohl scored twice in the first ten minutes, once on a breakaway and once off a rebound, to put Amherst ahead comfortably. Wohl almost got the natural hat trick minutes later. Just yards from the goal, Wohl tried a flip-shot over the Babson keeper, but it was headed wide of the goal. Quad-captain forward Frank Perry ’04 was there to tap in the errant shot for Amherst’s third goal of the half. Gannon and midfielder Vivian Johnson ’04 added second-half goals to round out the scoring.
This week witnessed the emergence of Wohl as a bona fide Amherst star. He scored three goals (two of them game-winners) and added an assist, for which he was named NESCAC player of the week. He is currently tied with Gannon for the team lead in scoring, with ten points.
Amherst is now in sole possession of first place in the NESCAC, having put enough space between itself and 3-0-1 Middlebury College. Williams College, at 2-0-1, is the only other NESCAC team currently playing above .500. The Jeffs have another battle ahead of them this weekend. Amherst will welcome Middlebury to campus this Saturday at noon with first place on the line. The Jeffs also play this afternoon at Springfield College.