Women's soccer leaves Bowdoin stunned

The victories at home over previously undefeated Bowdoin and a solid Springfield squad marked Amherst’s most consistent and intense performances yet. Tri-captain Jenny Rossman ’04 called the week “a turning point in our season.”

Amherst took an early 1-0 lead over Bowdoin with a Harmeling goal at 12:00, and zealously defended it until the Polar Bears’ Michal Shapiro headed a well-placed corner kick past goalie Jeanette Crowell ’07 at 84:30. Tied 1-1 with just over five minutes remaining, it looked as if the Jeffs’ effort might not be enough to win their first NESCAC contest of the season.

Fortunately, Amherst rebounded from Bowdoin’s equalizer with even more aggression than they’d shown early in the match. Forward Margaret Chute ’06 nailed the game-winner off an assist from Rossman at 87:23, and Harmeling added her second of the game two minutes later, putting the Polar Bears away and avenging a 3-0 drubbing at their hands in 2002.

“Saturday’s exciting win against Bowdoin proved that we are a mature team, one that is able to come back to win the game after being scored upon,” said Rossman, who was pleased with the Jeffs’ performance at all positions.

Harmeling credited the defense for Saturday’s success. “The defensive four-Foley ’07, Wojcik ’06, Heady ’06 and Sarro-Waite ’05-won this game with relentless effort and domineering presence.” Bowdoin outshot Amherst 9-7, but the defensive play and six strong saves from Crowell stopped the Polar Bears cold.

Although praise for the Bowdoin upset could be attributed to everyone on the field, one star outshined the rest against Springfield on Thursday.  Harmeling scored three goals in the first 18 minutes and added a second-half assist when Springfield threatened to spearhead a 4-2 triumph in Amherst’s home opener.

Harmeling’s first goal came at 3:52, when a long ball from midfielder Sarah Coleman ’06 caught her in mid-stride ahead of the defense, turning Springfield keeper Christina Davis into a spectator as the ball sailed into the net. It was deja vu all over again for Davis when Harmeling and Coleman hooked up at 5:37 on a lob that found Harmeling deep in the box; Davis didn’t have a chance. After two goals in the first six minutes, the duo wasn’t finished.

Coleman’s third assist, a deep pass at 17:38, sailed over the heads of the Springfield defenders, leaving Harmeling and Davis in a footrace for the ball. The Bowdoin goalie couldn’t compete with Harmeling’s speed, and she hit an empty-netter to complete the hat trick and give Amherst a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 lead.

The Pride crept back into the match, however, narrowing the Jeffs’ lead to 3-2 on back-to-back goals at 49:07 and 69:07. Springfield played its way back into the game, but its momentum was short-lived. Half a minute after Vail’s goal, Harmeling responded by feeding Tracy Montigny ’05 for the final score and a 4-2 victory.

Home-field advantage against Bowdoin and Springfield played a big part in Amherst’s wins, especially after the five-game road trip that opened the season. “Playing at home this week refreshed us thoroughly and gave us the edge we needed going into two difficult matches,” said Harmeling.

Harmeling, a Harvard transfer in her second season at Amherst, refused to take credit for her accomplishments this week.  “Anything that I did well was completely due to my teammates,” she said. Her Springfield hat trick would not have been possible without Coleman, who “continues to be a master at long balls. She has strength and precision unlike anyone on our team, and her feeds to me in the Springfield match were perfect.”

Harmeling’s modesty not withstanding, tri-captain Rossman recognized the forward’s contribution. “Ashley’s nose for the goal and her aggressive on-field presence have been a key part of our offensive success.”  Harmeling, who has nine goals in seven games, is on pace to threaten Amherst’s single season goal record of 16, set in 2002 by Cathy Poor ’02.

The Jeffs return to action this week with home games against Wheaton College today and Middlebury College on Saturday. The game against Wheaton will mark the first time the that the coaching tandem of Kate Shipley ’03 and Andy Jones ’00 will man the Jeffs while Head Coach Michelle Morgan takes a temporary break from her on-field coaching responsibilities.