The Jeffs faced off against eighth-ranked Bates in Saturday’s semifinal match. Senior tri-captain Jackie Hirsch, who was one of just three NESCAC players to receive All-District honors when she was named to the ESPN Academic All-District Third Team, said before the game, “Our focus against Bates was the same focus we’ve been working on all season — to play 90 minutes of great soccer.”
And that is exactly what happened in the their decisive 4-1 victory.
Kathryn Nathan ’13 started off the scoring less than six minutes into the game. Senior Kyla Woodhouse zipped the ball to Nathan in the box, whose shot was deflected by the Bates keeper, but had enough force to carry it into the goal.
The Jeffs’ next goal came with 14:35 left to play in the first half. Maureen Griffin ’11 got to a loose ball and took a shot from 25 yards out. The Bates keeper lost her footing on the wet field and, though she got her hands on the shot, could not quite hang on.
In response, two minutes later, Bates took their its first and only shot of the half, but keeper Allie Horwitz ’12 was there to make the save and the Jeffs went into the second half up 2-0.
Bates put themselves itself back in range six minutes into the second half. Bates’ Tina Tobin corralled a pass in the box and put her shot inside the near post. The Jeffs’ next two goals came in quick succession.
With 28:15 remaining, junior Jess Wall gathered a cross from Emily Little ’13 and launched a shot from 25 yards out. The ball went underneath the crossbar on the far post, and safely out of the Bates keeper’s reach. Little had a second assist to Nathan moments later with 27:18 left to play.
The Jeffs then lost a defensive struggle to rival Williams in the Sunday’s championship game Sunday at Hitchcock Field. The first half was scoreless, although the Jeffs had saw two close calls go the Ephs’ way. First-year Sarah Duffy made a cross to Hannah Cooper ’13, but Cooper’s one-timer went over the net. With 3:30 left in the half, junior Jill Kochanek sent a header off classmate Allison Dorey’s corner kick towards the goal, but the Williams keeper made a diving save to keep the score 0-0.
The Jeff defense prevailed on two heart-stopping plays early in the second half. Little came up big with a header to clear a Williams cross that would have left keeper Horwitz one-on-one with a Williams player.
A few minutes later, Williams was able to get a shot off a cross. Horwitz hit the ball with her hands, knocking it behind her into the crossbar. She quickly recovered and got the ball safely within her grasp.
The Jeffs had a chance at an open net when Cooper got into a footrace with the Williams’ keeper, but she was stuck shooting from a tough angle and her shot attempt went wide to the left. Williams countered quickly but sophomore defender Sandy Shepherd made a great tackle to shut down the play.
With 16:37 to play, the Williams offense broke through. Williams’ Sara Wild got a pass inside the box, broke free of two Jeff defenders, and put a shot in to the far post just out of Horwitz’s reach. Amherst had chances to score with two corner kicks and a free kick, but couldn’t find the net.
The game gave Williams their fourth consecutive NESCAC title. With the win, Williams gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, while the Jeffs have to hope for an at-large selection.
On Thursday, Hirsch, Kochanek and first-year Amanda Brisco were named to the all-NESCAC second team, with Brisco also collecting the NESCAC Rookie of the Year award.
Hirsch summed up the season, saying that the team “had its share of adversity with injuries, sicknesses, etc. which reflected in our results. But when it comes down to it, that’s not what we’ll remember about this season. We’ll remember the laughs we shared, the friendships we’ve made, and what it meant to unconditionally love a group of fantastic, intelligent and supportive teammates. Amherst women’s soccer is truly a family.”