Men’s soccer made the trip down to New London, Conn. this past Saturday, Sept. 25, picking up a big away win against conference rivals Connecticut College. They followed it up with a 1-0 win over Stevens Institute of Technology in Amherst yesterday, Sept. 28.
Goals from forward German Giammattei ’22 and defender Felix Wu ’22 helped the Mammoths to a 2-0 victory in New London. Giammattei scored again against Stevens yesterday. Defender Gabe Gitler ’22 tallied assists on a set-piece deliveries in both games.
The wins made it five straight for the Mammoths, and they are now 6-1 on the season, 2-1 in conference play. They have not conceded a goal since losing 1-0 to Bowdoin on Sept. 11.
The game against Conn College was a hard-fought, physical contest from the opening kickoff, with four fouls in the first 10 minutes of play. Both teams defended energetically through the first half hour, with the Mammoths and Camels combining for just five total shots. Amherst definitely saw the bulk of the possession, though, sending cross after cross into the Camels’ box.
The Mammoths’ first clear-cut chance of the game came in the 34th minute, when Giammattei found himself one-on-one with Conn College goalkeeper Sam Maidenberg in the box; Maidenberg stayed composed and punched Giammattei’s strong, right-footed effort wide for a corner kick.
The Mammoths were not to be denied, though. Sent up from the back line into the box for the corner, Wu drifted from the goal line towards the penalty spot to meet Gitler’s in-swinging cross. He drove a glancing header into the bottom-left corner.
The goal — a rarity for a defenseman — was the third of Wu’s career.
Almost immediately after play resumed, the Mammoths doubled their lead through Giammattei, the reigning NESCAC and NCAA Division III player of the year.
He picked up the ball on the right wing and began to dribble inside. The Connecticut defense forced the right-footed Giammattei to his left; he seemed unbothered, calmly curling a left-footed shot into the side netting.
The Camels turned up the pressure a bit after the second Amherst goal, forcing goalkeeper and reigning NESCAC Player of the Week Bernie White ’23 to make two saves in the final five minutes of the half.
The Mammoths saw less of the ball in the second half, as the Camels sent more players forward in an attempt to chip away at Amherst’s lead. While Connecticut got some good looks, outshooting the Mammoths 6-2 in the second half and forcing White to make three saves, Amherst was able to absorb the pressure relatively comfortably and see out the 2-0 win.
Head Coach Justin Serpone celebrated his defense’s performance in New London, especially that of his goalkeeper.
“Bernie has been great,” he said. “Knowing that you have somebody solid that’s going to make the saves and come up with the balls in the air, it just gives your defense a lot of confidence.”
The defense stayed sharp at home against Stevens, as well, but the Ducks’ offense presented less of a challenge than the Connecticut front line. White saw no shots on goal in the first half, and he was forced to make just three saves all evening.
In the 72nd minute, Giamattei got on the end of a free kick taken by Gitler. His header found the back of the net and gave the Mammoths the 1-0 win. It was his third of the season.
Though the defense has been staunch to start the year, Serpone hopes to see his offense fully come into its own in the weeks ahead, especially after a 2019 campaign in which the Mammoths scored 58 goals — “probably the best attacking year that we’ve ever had.”
With six goals in his team’s last three outings and Giammattei beginning to heat up, Serpone sees things trending in the right direction offensively.
Amherst will need all the firepower it can get this week for what might be its most challenging stretch of games. Amherst faces arch-rivals Williams at home on Saturday, Oct. 2, followed by a trip up to No. 13 Middlebury on Sunday, Oct. 3.
The Mammoths’ performances next weekend will say a lot about how far the team will be able to go this season. The Williams game is at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday, Oct. 2 at Hitchcock Field.