Following a strong regular season, which they ended with an 11-1-3 overall record, the Jeffs fell to the third-seeded Panthers during Saturday’s semifinals. Middlebury, the eventual conference champion, maintained a 13-3-0 record and did not become the number three seed until a 3-0 loss to Williams last Friday. They had begun their season with seven consecutive shutouts.
The Jeffs’ loss does not seem to be a result of a lack of talent, as individual Lord Jeffs have been recognized throughout the season for their performances on the field. Sophomore forward Spencer Noon had a breakout season in which he led the conference in scoring, tallying 11 goals and 24 points in the team’s 16 games. Senior quad-captain Ian Rothkopf also excelled on the offensive end of the pitch, as he tied for the NESCAC lead in assists. Not coincidentally, Rothkpof was named to the all-NESCAC first team, and Chris Skayne ’11 and James Mooney ’12 joined Noon in receiving all-NESCAC second team recognition. Additionally, Rothkopf and goalie Lennard Kovacs ’12, who had five solo shutouts this year, were the only two NESCAC players named to the ESPN Academic all-District first team.
Cohesion was not a problem for the Jeffs either, as the team led the conference in goals, assists and points by a comfortable margin in each category. As it turns out, the team simply did not play well against the Panthers.
After advancing past the quarterfinals with a trouble-free 3-0 victory against Colby, the Lord Jeffs went up against the Panthers. Middlebury seemed intent on the victory, however, as they scored a goal in each half. Despite Kovacs’ best efforts, the goalie made only two saves in a game in which the Panthers took 12 shots.
But the Jeffs have suffered from defensive demons all season. More surprising was the Panthers’ defense’s ability to keep the potent Lord Jeffs’ offense at bay. The loss marked an end to Amherst’s six-game winning streak.
The Jeffs now have even more competitors to reckon with in their quest for a national title. Amherst is ranked 14th nationally based on last week’s NSCAA poll, and received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament for the fifth year in a row. Middlebury, Williams and Bowdoin are the other NESCAC teams who made the NCAA cut.
For their first-round game, the Jeffs will go to Saint Lawrence Univ. to play Plattsburgh State University on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals won the 2010 SUNYAC Tournament and have been the top-ranked team in the SUNYAC throughout the year, and should prove a tough out.