The No. 8 women’s soccer team lost to the No. 6 William Smith College Herons 2-1 in the third round of the Division III NCAA Championship on Saturday, Nov. 19. The loss marked the end of a 2022 season that saw the Mammoths go 18-3 overall and capture both the NESCAC regular season title and a NESCAC Championship.
The Mammoths found themselves down 2-0 early in the contest but quickly pulled the game back to 2-1. They continued to threaten, and were arguably the best team on the day, but just could not find an equalizer.
Amherst started the game looking dangerous, as an early interchange between Isabel Stern ’23 and Ella Johnson ’26 down the left side ended with the ball at the feet of Patience Kum ’25, who unleashed a right-footed curler that sailed just high.
The two squads traded shots after that, as William Smith pressured the Mammoths in a way few teams have proved capable of doing this year. The Herons were able to hurry Amherst’s midfielders and defenders, preventing their offense from flowing forward as smoothly as it has all season.
Around the 29th minute, William Smith began to take control, and the opener came shortly after. However, the goal came (seemingly) out of nowhere. Defender Sophia Haynes ’26 received a routine back pass near the top of the Amherst box. Her first touch was too heavy, though, and the ball rolled directly into the path of an onrushing Heron attacker, who got past Haynes before wrong-footing goalkeeper Mika Fisher ’24 with a slow shot that trickled into the right side of the net.
The Herons doubled their advantage almost immediately afterwards. A corner kick found a Heron attacker on the right side of the 18-yard box. The ball took an awkward bounce and was headed out by Charlotte Huang ’25, but made it only as far as another Heron, who looped a perfect ball over the heads of Amherst’s defenders into the path of a teammate who buried a simple volley into the left side of the net. Less than 34 minutes into the contest, the Herons became just the second team to net two goals against the Mammoths all season.
Though the Herons’ lead seemed daunting, the Mammoths did not go away. Immediately after the kickoff, Kum fired off two quick shots. A few minutes later, Isabelle Geneve ’23 won a ball in the midfield and immediately sent Kum through on goal. Finding a sliver of space on the right side of the box, Kum let the ball roll out ahead of her before sending a blistering first-time shot between the inside post and the diving goalkeeper.
Kum’s goal gave the Mammoths some much-needed life, with high pressure from the Mammoths making an equalizer seem likely before halftime, but the teams entered the locker room with the Herons up 2-1.
And throughout much of the second half, that trend continued. Huang forced a save with a header in the 50th minute. Kum scored in the 53rd minute, but was called offside. Stern sent a good-looking shot over the bar in the 63rd minute, before Kum had a great one-on-one chance pushed wide in the 67th. Kum and Stern again forced saves in the 78th minute, but, yet again, the Herons held firm.
Despite controlling possession and outshooting William Smith 7-3 in the second half, the Herons’ goalkeeper kept her team ahead with multiple big saves, and the Mammoths never equalized. Their season ended with the final whistle.
In a post-game press conference, Head Coach Jen Hughes, who claimed NESCAC Coach of the Year honors, said that she believed her team was the better side during the game but simply got unlucky, as often happens in soccer. “I’m so proud of this team and the effort that we put on the field,” she said.
“They did such an amazing job as leaders in addition to being players on the field,” said Hughes of her seniors. “That’s often the X-factor, and it was this year for us.”