The men’s soccer team stayed home for their matches this weekend, first taking on No. 17 Wesleyan on Saturday, Oct. 8, and then hosting Bowdoin on Sunday, Oct. 9, for Senior Day, when they honored their four seniors’ accomplishments on and off the field over the past four and a half years.
The Mammoths kicked off the weekend in style against nationally-ranked Wesleyan. Wasting no time at all, junior Ada Okorogheye ’24E got the offense rolling, sending a pass through traffic where it reached Shawn Rapal ’24E. His shot was initially blocked by the Wesleyan goalkeeper, but sophomore Fynn Hayton-Ruffner ’25 chased down the rebound and tapped it into the net to give the Mammoths an early 1-0 lead. It was Hayton-Ruffner’s NESCAC-leading seventh goal of the season.
But the Mammoths weren’t done yet. While it looked like they were going to carry this 1-0 scoreline into the break, with three minutes before halftime, they extended their lead. Senior Andrew Barkidjija ’23E took a long throw from the right sideline which bounced through the box and eventually reached sophomore Aidan Curtis ’25 upfield. Showing off his finesse, Curtis bicycle-kicked the ball over his head and into the goal for a beautiful tally. This difficult finish gave the Mammoths a 2-0 lead heading into the locker room.
It was one they would not relinquish, as the Amherst defense and midfield continued to stifle Wesleyan’s offense in the second half. The Cardinals concluded the day with only three shots on goal, all of which were handled with ease by goalkeeper Bernie White ’23E. The game ended in a third shutout of the year for White, who kept the Cardinals off the board for the whole contest. With their 2-0 victory, the Mammoths shifted their focus to their next opponent: Bowdoin.
A beautiful, crisp fall day set the stage for the Mammoths’ second NESCAC clash of the weekend. Just like the day before, the Mammoths came out of the gate swinging, shooting on goal multiple times in the opening minutes. The Bowdoin defense proved tough to beat — while Amherst’s precise shots forced the Bowdoin goalkeeper to make some tough saves, ultimately, the Mammoth offense was not able to slip one past him. On the other side, the Amherst defense was stifling as well, only allowing the Bears one shot on goal over the entire 90 minutes, and awarding White his second shutout of the weekend, and fourth of the season. The Mammoths walked away from Sunday’s match with a tie score of 0-0.
Before the draw on Sunday, the team honored their four seniors: White, Alex Shahmirzadi ’23E, Barkidjija, and Nico Kenary ’23E. Hayton-Ruffner spoke on the impact these seniors have had on the program, emphasizing that they’ve “put everything in perspective for the team … throughout the highs and lows,” adding that “off the field, they have been incredible in helping [Hayton-Ruffner] and others figure out how to be responsible and successful students.” Their leadership has been unwavering, and the team is “really lucky to have them,” he said.
After a busy couple of weeks, the team has this week off from their competitive schedule before they resume play on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at home versus foe Connecticut College. In the meantime, the group will get back to work on the field and in the weight room as they enter their final stretch of regular season NESCAC games. Hayton-Ruffner added that “at this point in the season, we are focused on grinding out results” so that they can “impose [their] play and passion on every game.” With the win and draw from this weekend, the Mammoths now stand at 7-1-4 overall, and 2-1-4 in NESCAC play.