The new commander is coach Jon Thompson, who in addition to revamping practices, has given the team a community focus, as evidenced by its participation in projects such as running a fundraiser for breast cancer research and assisting in other local causes. Thompson, the former coach of Colby has tried to instill a sense of discipline in the team by, among other things, bringing a Marine on campus to talk to his athletes. On the field, Thompson is targeting the Jeffs’ main weaknesses from last season, saves, clears and faceoffs. In these all-important fields, Amherst ranked last in the NESCAC. With only four seniors returning, the team will rely on junior midfielder Evan Redwood and returning senior defenseman Gabe Mann as co-captains to anchor the midfield and defense line respectively. Redwood was named USILA Honorable Mention All-American in 2010 and Mann was a defensive rock during a rocky season.
Key returners who will spur on a dynamic offense are juniors Alex Fox and Cole Cherney. Midfielder extraordinaire Fox led the team with 38 points in 2010, and attackman Cherney tallied 15 goals, including a decisive game-winner against Trinity. Amherst should have no problem scoring goals, as they were third in the NESCAC with 10.1 goals per game. Defenders Will Reed ’12, Matt Levine ’11 and first-year Danny Gold ’13 will assist Mann and returning senior Parker Holcomb, who led the Jeffs with 49 ground balls. They will be counted on to win faceoffs, bat away balls, alter shots and hassle opposing attackmen as the mainstays of the Amherst defense.
The Jeffs will face a tough first test this Saturday against Tufts, who went 20-1 in 2010 and came back to Medford with an NCAA Championship in hand. After an embarrassing 18-8 loss to the Jumbos to begin the 2010 season, Amherst lost another two matches before securing its first win. The team hopes to avoid that same fate on Gooding Field this weekend, and judging by the new focused attitude of the coaching staff and players, there’s no reason not to give them a chance.