And that is exactly what Amherst did, taking a pair of wins over non-conference foe Springfield College (3-6) and nationally ranked NESCAC rival Bowdoin College (6-2, 4-1) to remain unbeaten and maintain its lead in the NESCAC standings.
Amherst started the week off on Wednesday, hosting Springfield in a non-conference battle. The Jeffs came out firing, exuding the relentless offensive that has been a trademark this season.
Although Amherst outshot Springfield 29-10 in the contest, the Jeffs were unable to find the net in the first half. The scoreless tie was broken early in the second half, however, as Jeffs’ junior Joe Gannon connected with sophomore Rob Madden off of a corner kick for the go-ahead goal 5:14 into the frame.
Springfield bounced back just ten minutes later when junior Justin Pepoli collected a loose ball in front of the goal and capitalized, knotting the score at a goal apiece.
The Lord Jeffs continued to attack the net and kept Springfield goalkeeper B.J. Sturdivant off balance until they finally sneaked one past the Pride goalie with just under eight minutes left to play. Gannon pulled the goalie out of place and hit sophomore Mike Wohl for the open-netter. Amherst held on in the final minutes to valiantly seal the 2-1 victory.
Wohl’s goal extended his scoring streak to six games and put him in the league lead for goals (seven) and points (15). Likewise, Gannon took the NESCAC lead in assists, tallying his fourth and fifth in the contest. With help from defenders Ben Lavely ’06 and senior co-captain Andrew Syfu, Jeffs’ goaltender Greg Lockwood ’06 needed to make only three saves.
Rolling off of their dramatic win over Springfield, the Jeffs were ready to travel to Brunswick, Maine to take on perhaps their toughest opponent of the young season, the 12th-ranked Bowdoin College Polar Bears. “We came in confident because we beat them last year and they are the same team. Our defense was up for their biggest challenge of the season,” said Syfu. However, playing at Bowdoin is never an easy task. “It’s always tough to play at Bowdoin,” admitted Syfu. “Their fans are notorious for being the best hecklers in the NESCAC.”
Amherst was on the wrong end of early pressure as Bowdoin came out firing. The Polar Bears’ Ethan Ross nearly netted a header on a first half corner kick, but Amherst was able to keep the score locked 0-0 heading into the half.
Gannon broke the tie in the 67th minute of play, breaking away after a pass from Wohl and beating keeper Nathan Lovitz for the 1-0 advantage.
The Jeffs held on to their narrow lead, but not without another scare from Ross, who launched a desperation shot just over the crossbar in the final minutes of play.
“The defense was incredible, most notably [John] Kneeland ’08, Lavely, Syfu and [Jeremy] Kelly ’06,” said Lockwood, who needed just five saves to record his 12th career shutout. “It took us a while to get going up top, but down the stretch Wohl connected with Gannon for a great goal. The two of them worked hard all game long; it was great to see how well they are pairing right now.”
Wohl echoed Lockwood’s sentiments commending his team’s efforts. “Our defense was up for its biggest challenge of the season and Lockwood and Syfu played their best games of the year,” said the sophomore forward. “I was confident that with the level that Gannon and I have been playing at recently our offense would get some chances to score and luckily, because of hard work, Joe [Gannon] punished them.”
The Lord Jeffs (7-0, 3-0) will look to continue their punishing ways next Saturday when they travel to Vermont to take on Middlebury College in a NESCAC matchup.
“Next weekend is another really tough challenge. Middlebury is the best-organized defense in the league. They are very well-coached,” said Lockwood. He is confident that the Jeffs will carry their energy into the weekend, however. “The win up at Bowdoin gives us good momentum going into this game and good preparation for playing away against a good team.”