After suffering a loss in the NESCAC semifinals to Middlebury, men’s soccer has rebounded in style to start the NCAA Tournament. After a 6-1 trounce of Thomas College this past Saturday and a 2-0 shutout of No. 25 Ithaca College the next day, the Mammoths are thundering into the NCAA DIII tournament Sweet 16.
Amherst received an at-large bid to the tournament and played its first- and second-round games at Keene State in freezing New Hampshire on Nov. 16 and 17.
In its first match on Saturday, Amherst took on Thomas College, a team that received an automatic bid after its North Atlantic Conference Championship victory over Maine Maritime Academy. Once again, the Mammoths’ offense made a statement and dominated the game, scoring six goals on 28 shots.
After a heavily-contested first 15 minutes, forward Dane Lind ’20 put Amherst on the scoreboard. Outside back Jack O’Brien ’21 played an incisive ball to Lind, who juked one defender and smashed home a goal to make the score 1-0. Soon after, NESCAC player of the year German Giammattei ’22 received an Ada Okorogheye ’23 through ball and poked it in the bottom right corner to add an insurance tally. Sebastian Derby ’21 made a strong impact on the match, scoring two goals to seal the deal for Amherst. Other notable moments include Declan Sung ’23 and third-string goalkeeper Will Dunne ’20 scoring their first collegiate goals.
Amherst walked off of a chilly Keene State field with a merciless 6-1 victory and a date with the 25th-ranked Ithaca College Bombers the next day. Ithaca, with an undefeated record against ranked opponents and a win over host Keene State, posed a larger threat to the Mammoths team.
Led by goals from Giammattei and Lind, as well as another stellar defensive performance, Amherst defeated the Bombers 2-0. Giammattei scored off of a penalty kick in the 18th minute, and Lind bombed home his goal off of a Derby pass to conclude the scoring in the 35th minute. The scores upped the attacking duo’s season goal totals to 21 and nine, respectively.
The defense kept the Bombers at bay, anchored by Bernie White ’22, who posted yet another shutout and made four saves. The 2-0 win ended Ithaca’s season and sent the Mammoths home happy and ready for a battle in the Sweet 16.
Men’s soccer takes on Rowan University on Saturday, Nov. 23 at 11 a.m. on Hitchcock Field. Rowan, who beat Salve Regina College and No. 15 Mary Washington College to advance, is 3-0-1 versus. ranked teams and received an at-large bid into the tournament.
To preview the rest of the bracket, the winner of Saturday’s contest takes on either Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) or perennial powerhouse Messiah College. RPI eliminated Middlebury in the second round. The other two NESCAC teams survived the first weekend as well. Tufts and Connecticut College both advanced. With wins, the rivals could meet in the quarterfinal round on their side of the bracket on Sunday.
Amherst is chasing history once again; in 2015, the men’s soccer team marched all the way to a National Championship trophy. Similar to this year’s team, the 2015 squad suffered an upset in the NESCAC playoff before rattling off five tournament wins. They vanquished SUNY Morrisville State, Lycoming, Trinity, SUNY Oneonta, and Loras in the championship.
The 2019 Mammoths must win three games to finish the job and guarantee their spot in the record books. With a potential DIII player of the year in Giammattei, coach of the year in Justin Serpone and the rest of the Mammoths ready to seal the deal, Amherst seems poised to win yet another title.