This weekend, Amherst women’s soccer traveled to Rochester, New York, for the first two rounds of the NCAA Championship tournament. The team’s record of 16-2, complete with 10 consecutive wins, earned them a bump to No. 8 in the nation and a No. 2 seed in the tournament bracket at the beginning of last week.
And, following their NESCAC Championship the prior weekend, the Mammoths got the recognition they deserved for their stellar play all season, led by head coach Jen Hughes, who received her third NESCAC Coach of the Year award, and assistant coach Su DelGuercio. Sophomore forward Patience Kum ’25 was awarded the prestigious NESCAC Player of the Year award and was selected First-Team All-NESCAC. She was joined on the All-Conference First Team by junior forward Abby Schwartz ’24 and defender Charlotte Huang ’25. Midfielder Sierra Rosado ’25 received a spot on the All-NESCAC Second-Team. To top it all off, the conference also named juniors Ally Deegan ’24 and Mika Fisher ’24 Co-Players of the Week for their championship performances.
Starting off on Saturday, Nov. 12, the Mammoths took to the turf against Westminster College (Pennsylvania). Staying true to their recent form, Amherst turned the intensity up from the beginning of the contest, taking control and putting a goal on the scoreboard just minutes into the game. After only 10 minutes had elapsed, Kum and Isabel Stern ’23 expertly combined with a quick passing sequence that left Kum in a one-on-one situation with the Titans’ keeper. Undaunted, she fired a left-footed shot that deflected perfectly off the post and into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Stern also initiated the Mammoths’ next big opportunity. She confidently carried the ball into the offensive third before laying off a neat through ball to (Managing Sports Editor) Liza Katz ’24. Taking a composed touch, Katz rifled a well-placed shot into the bottom corner of the net, giving Amherst the second goal of the game and Katz her seventh tally of the season.
The Mammoths added yet another with just 25 seconds to go in the first half. After receiving a throw-in from near the left corner flag, Katz laid the ball back to Ella Johnson ’26, who sent a tantalizing cross into the box. Charlotte McGuire ’25 beat the onrushing Titan goalie to the ball, flicking a header to the far post where Deegan was waiting to finish the play, heading the ball into a wide open goal for a 3-0 lead. The Mammoths then dominated throughout the final 45 minutes with stellar defensive play that allowed just two shots on goal. The Mammoths ultimately saw out their lead and advanced in the tournament with a 3-0 win.
After their win on Saturday, the Mammoths took to the field on Sunday against host Rochester Institute of Technology, with light snowfall and cold temperatures providing the backdrop for their Round of 32 matchup. With a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line, Amherst came out of the gates strong, earning four corner kicks in the first 12 minutes of action. That type of offensive pressure is hard to withstand, and the Tigers couldn’t handle the heat for long. After a Schwartz header goal in the 17th minute was ruled offsides, another give-and-go move, this time between Kum and Alexa Juarez ’23E, gave the NESCAC Player of the Year another free run at goal. And just like the day prior, Kum didn’t miss, calmly slotting the ball past the RIT keeper to give the Mammoths a 1-0 lead. The goal seemed to boost the Mammoths’ confidence, as they controlled possession and outshout the Tigers for the remaining minutes of the half but could not find an insurance goal.
The second half proved much less exciting than the first, though this perhaps was by the Mammoths’ design. For the majority of the half — and to Amherst’s benefit — the ball was mainly possessed in the neutral third of the field, and neither team could create many threatening chances. Fisher was called upon in the 74th minute and came up big, stopping a Tigers shot that appeared destined for the top-left corner to maintain the lead. The Mammoths held strong, and Kum’s second goal in two days proved to be enough for a 1-0 win that sent them to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2018.
Team captain Isabelle Geneve ’23 summarized the weekend in two words: “long and frigid.”
“[But even] after six hours on the bus and practicing in the rain,” Geneve continued, “the team still managed to be excited and ready to play, even in the snow and the sub-40 wind chill. There is a deep belief in our team, and we are confident in our abilities to score early and often or to come back after we are down. We are looking forward to flying to Cleveland, not only to play and win but to have new experiences like flying together that’ll only make us closer. We’re all excited and plan to come back with two wins before the holiday break!”
The Mammoths’ efforts this weekend demonstrated the level of trust and strong chemistry the team has built over the season. They will hope to continue to showcase that strength this weekend in the Sweet 16 round against the region’s third seed, William Smith College. The last time the two teams squared off was in that 2018 Sweet 16 game in which the Herons prevailed 2-1, scoring the game-winner with just two minutes left to play. The game will be hosted by Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, on Saturday, Nov. 19, with kickoff at 1:30 p.m.