Men’s soccer is peaking at the right time.
They dispatched Rosemont College 5-0 on Saturday, Nov. 13, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III tournament. The momentum carried into Sunday, Nov. 14, which saw the Mammoths lay siege to Babson College’s home field in a 3-0 win.
Contrary to expectations in a win-or-go-home contest, Head Coach Justin Serpone reached deep into his bench: 19 out of 20 players who got on the field saw at least 20 minutes of game time, including both goalies. Three Mammoths tallied their first collegiate goals.
The Mammoths dominated more than the headline numbers, too, outshooting the Ravens 23-4. Rosemont mustered just one shot on net across the 90 minutes.
The game — which was also played at Babson’s home field in Wellesley, Mass. — was safely within Amherst’s grasp after two rapid-fire goals in the 19th and 22nd minutes respectively. Declan Sung ’24E and Ada Okorogheye ’24 connected for the first — Okorogheye’s second goal of the year. Defender Felix Wu ’22E claimed the second.
But the Mammoths didn’t stop there, piling on in the final 20 minutes.
With 18 minutes left to play, Sung played Fynn Hayton-Ruffner ’25 through into the box. Hayton-Ruffner’s low shot was saved, but the Rosemont keeper failed to corral the ball, with the rebound falling to the well-positioned Ryan Gomez ’25 for an easy tap-in. It was Hayton-Ruffner’s first collegiate assist and Gomez's first career goal.
Just over a minute later, Wyatt McCarthy ’24 received the ball on the edge of the 18-yard box, spun past his defender, and calmly slotted the ball past the keeper for the first goal of his college career.
Goalkeeper Max Landa ’24, who played in the field against Rosemont, added insult to the Raven’s injury in the 85th minute. Hayton-Ruffner played a cross into the box. A Rosemont defender headed it directly upward, sending it looping across the face of goal into the path of Landa, who nudged it home. Keeping with the pattern now forming, it was the first score of Landa’s collegiate career.
The Babson game followed a similar pattern initially, with the Mammoths dominating possession from the starting whistle. But in this Sunday contest, their breakthrough came almost immediately. German Giammattei ’22 dribbled through a crowd of Beavers defenders, firing a low right-footed shot toward the right post. The shot proved too powerful for the Babson keeper, who could only parry it away from his net. Sebastian Derby ’22 got on the end of the rebound, opening the scoring with a classic poacher’s finish.
Down a goal, the Beavers increased the tempo of the match, putting up more of a fight than Rosemont. They never seemed in serious danger of taking back the game, though. While they forced goalie Kofi Hope-Gund ’22 to make four saves, he never seemed overly troubled.
The Mammoths found their insurance goal near the end of the first half. The Babson keeper lost his footing on a goal kick, sending his pass short, directly into the path of Okorogheye, who sprung forward into the 18-yard box, cut past a defender, and scored — his second goal in his second NCAA tournament game of the year.
The third came with just over 30 minutes remaining in the match. The Mammoths sent a corner into the box from the left side. The Beavers’ keeper punched the ball out towards the opposite sideline — seemingly out of danger. However, in a move more reminiscent of schoolyard pickup than a collegiate elimination game, Giammattei threw his legs into the air, somersaulting backwards to connect with the ball a good three or four feet off the ground: a bicycle kick. In his words: “I just launched myself.” It turned out to be not just an acrobatic display but a good ball — directly to Derby in front of goal. His header was batted away by the Beavers’ keeper, but only as far as Laurens Ten Cate ’25, who nodded it home for his third goal of the season.
The full-time whistle in Wellesley marked the Mammoths’ 10th consecutive win against Babson and their 11th-straight sweet-sixteen berth.
The Mammoths, who reached the final of the tournament in 2019, have emerged from the first two rounds as legitimate title contenders once again. Giammattei says that the team has capitalized on a mix of fresh talent and experience: “There are a lot of guys who weren’t on the team, or didn’t play many minutes [in 2019]” who have “stepped up.”
Their defense has been stiff all season — allowing just seven goals all year — but they have struggled for offense at times. The first two tournament games indicated an ability to score at will that will surely put the remaining teams on notice.
Coach Serpone is encouraged by his team’s form over the past few months, despite a penalty-kick loss in the first round of the NESCAC tournament on Oct. 30. “We’re playing well,” he said. “I believe in this group.”
But he also made it clear that despite the Mammoths’ form and championship pedigree, nothing will be handed to them. “Experience is a little bit overplayed in sports,” he said. “You still have to go win the game.”
That said, the team’s confidence levels ahead of the game are high. “If we go out and play how we know how to play, most of the time things go our way,” said Giammattei.
The Mammoths return home to host the next two rounds of the tournament, and will face SUNY Cortland at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20 on Hitchcock Field.