On Saturday, Oct. 30, the top-seeded Mammoths defended their home turf against the Trinity College Bantams once again. After the thrilling game last Tuesday between the two teams, they faced off again this past weekend in the quarterfinals of the NESCAC Championship Tournament. The league’s regular season champions started the game out strong with a corner from Corner Kick Queen™ Sophia Fikke ’22 herself — get a load of this gal, am I right? — less than a minute after kickoff. Natalie Landau ’22 recorded the first shot of the game at 1:16, which turned into a nice little double whammy with her second one coming only a minute later. The first-years dominated the seventh minute of the game with Carter Hollingsworth ’25 and Sierra Rosado ’25 both notching shots on frame within thirty seconds of each other.
The purple back line proved to be as impenetrable as ever; it wasn’t until the 11th minute that superstar Mika Fisher ’24 first got her eyes on the prize and her hands on the ball. Ruby Hastie ’22 paid homage to the absolute banger by LMFAO (ft. Lil Jon) with two rapid-fire shots, testing the Trinity keeper with her first in the 13th minute and slightly overestimating the size of the goal on second, with her well-hit shot rolling just barely wide less than a minute later.
At the 22-minute mark, Trinity managed to switch the momentum and push the Mammoths into their own half. Over the course of the next few minutes, they managed to fire off a few shots of their own, all of which avoided the goal like a first year in her Econ lecture trying to avoid the senior she matched with on Tinder the day before. But, the Mammoths proved once again that teamwork really does make the dream work, as the flawlessly running machine that is the Amherst back line denied a header by the Trinity attack in the 29th minute. Hastie retaliated with another shot less than a minute later, driving blue back onto the defensive. Maya Scholnick ’22 and Abby Schwartz ’24 had chances of their own in the 30th minute, but both were blocked by the Bantam defense. In the 31st minute, Rosado fired off a kick near the top of the box that also rebounded off a Bantam defender; rumor has it the resounding thud can still be heard echoing throughout the Pioneer Valley. To add insult to blue’s amassing pile of injuries, Isabel Stern ’23 stripped two Trinity players of both their dignity and the ball in the 34th minute, managing to win a white throw-in both times. The run of play went back and forth between the two teams in the last 10 minutes before the whistle blew to end the half with a 0-0 score; this time though, Amherst seemed to have the better of the attacking play, notching 13 shots to Trinity’s eight.
Despite the rain beginning to come down harder, the Mammoths took to the pitch in the second half with their tusks held high. The Herd’s charge was led by Landau, driving through two defenders and firing off a shot in the 47th minute. In the next 18 minutes, Schwartz, Fikke, and Landau all saw multiple shots stopped by the Trinity keeper, who, as one spectator (and clearly avid reader of the Student) put it, “really did have an affinity for round objects.”
In the 68th minute, Kim Zhou ’22 nailed a beautiful header in the midfield that dealt her Trinity opponent with a wipeout worthy of being featured in a Swiffer commercial. But Trinity managed to once again put Amherst on the defensive in the 72nd minute, with four of their 10 second-half shots coming in the next few minutes. The two teams battled for dominance, intensity rising faster than the atmospheric temperature over the past 20 years. Finally, in the 80th minute, Rosado found an opening through the Bantam defense and sent the ball to Hastie who fired it into the net. Cheers filled the air from both the bench and the stands, but Trinity refused to give up. Less than two minutes later, the Bantam attack managed to find the back of the net to even the score at 1-1. Amherst may have been wearing white but they refused to wave the flag in surrender, as Fisher saved another attempt from Trinity to end regulation time.
With 10 minutes of overtime set on the clock, both teams returned to the pitch but purple was determined to show blue that they did not come here to play games. Only two minutes in, Fikke saw her free kick pushed over the crossbar by the Trinity keeper, then did what she does best with another corner kick that Hastie managed to get a foot on, sending a shot just high of the goal. Stern then saw her shot blocked in the 94th minute, but the Mammoth defense took the Golden Rule to heart, with Zhou blocking a shot from the Bantams two minutes later.
Purple pushed blue back onto defense, and then, it happened.The ball flew past the Trinity keeper into the goal, courtesy of Hastie, the crown jewel of the game and the conference, winning NESCAC Player of the Week for her performance. The scoreboard read 2-1. Screams filled the air as parka-covered players rushed the field. Enthusiastic members of the baseball and track teams followed suit, sliding down the muddy hill with more grace than Biddy’s horseback promenade during the Bicentennial party to join the celebration. Tail feathers tucked between their legs, the Bantams accepted defeat for the second time that week as the Mammoths advanced to the NESCAC semifinals. Women’s soccer will now be hosting the rest of the championship tournament at home so, as always, roll Hitchcock Field Saturday, Nov. 6, at 11 a.m. to watch the Herd take on Middlebury College with a spot in the final at stake.