The third-ranked Jeffs ran out the clock and withstood a Polar Bear comeback on Saturday, winning a 9-8 nailbiter. The loss left the Bowdoin record at a meager 7-4. After running up a 6-2 score against Bowdoin early in the game, the hosts flurried for four of the final five goals of the half, leaving the score at 7-6 at the break.
“Saturday was a tough game for us,” said co-captain Carrie Foster ’02. “We had a difficult time possessing the ball-we had a lot of turnovers. Also, we weren’t playing as a team.”
Mary Kate Allen ’03 agreed with Foster. “We had a lot of mental breakdowns that resulted in turnovers and Bowdoin was able to capitalize on them,” said Allen. “They’re a good team and they weren’t just going to hand the game to us.”
The second half of play witnessed neck-and-neck play from both teams. Amherst’s Allison Aldrich ’04 powered through the Polar Bear defense to give the Jeffs an 8-6 advantage, but Bowdoin’s Kristi Perine would notch her second score of the day to pull the hosts within one at 18:21. Five minutes later, Laura Schifter ’03 would vie for Amherst, making her case with a goal to leave the Amherst scoring total at nine. The Polar Bears weren’t done, however, and Elsbeth Prett put Amherst on its toes again with a strike at 7:17 to whittle the Jeff lead to one. But Bowdoin would not score again and Amherst hung on to the 9-8 win.
Junior attacker Abby Ouimet ruled the field for Amherst, marking two goals and three assists on the day. Allen announced her presence from midfield, tallying two scores early in the contest. Brooke Diamond ’03 frustrated the Bowdoin offense, making 13 saves on the day. “I think it was beneficial for our team to have a rough game, it served as somewhat of a wakeup call on the things that we need to improve on, said Diamond. “That’s better to happen now than in a few weeks when the stakes are increased.”
Sunday’s 19-6 win over Bates was a lot more decisive. “Sunday’s game was a great, feel-good game,” said Foster. “There were lots of positive vibes among the players.”
“Things clicked,” added Diamond. “I think it was because we worked out a large part of what had been holding us back the past few games and at Bowdoin.”
Ouimet came out in full force again, matching Liz Martin ’04E. Each nicked seven strikes on the day, and Aldrich contributed two goals and an assist. Bates cracked the scoring column first, scoring in the first three minutes of play. But the Jeffs came back to score the next two goals of the game, and four of the following six, to take a 6-3 lead into the halftime break. Undaunted, the Bobcats fired back again, drawing first blood in the second half with another early goal. The Jeffs rebounded, however, to silence any Bates hopes with a six-goal rally to bring the score to 12-4.
The Bobcats mustered two more goals on the afternoon, but the Jeff sticks upped the ante again with seven more goals on the day, making the final score 19-6. “Sunday was an overall better feeling game than the Bowdoin one, although I think the Bowdoin slump allowed us to come together and focus on the things that made us play so well against Bates,” said Allen.
“Defensively, we held them to a low scoring game and continually caused them to turn the ball over,” said Foster. “Offensively, we moved the ball well and shot well.”
Diamond took time to credit the Amherst defense for its role in the squad’s success. “Our defense has been key for us all season,” she said. “With all of our seniors in the backfield, it’s really where the team looks for stability. Our defenders are all so quick and athletic that they are a major challenge for any team.”
“Our defense is really important for us offensively as well, because often the goals we score are sparked from great defensive plays in the backfield. You always hear about the attackers and the goalie, but our defenders don’t get nearly enough credit for what they do for our team,” Diamond added.
The Jeffs will host the Jumbos today at 4:30, before clashing with the Ephs on Saturday at 11:30. “Tufts should be a tough game,” said Diamond. “We are a team with a bullseye on our back. And, there’s just something about an Amherst/Williams game and the way that emotions and pride can just take over and add a whole new dynamic. They’re 10-1 and are having a great season, so we know that we need to show up with our A game Saturday in order to come out with the win.”