Women’s soccer’s 2021 season came to a heartbreaking end this weekend following the first two rounds of the NCAA Division III tournament, both of which were hosted by Amherst on Hitchcock Field.
On Saturday, Nov. 13, Amherst faced off against Lesley University, who beat New England College on Nov. 6 to win the NECC Championship.
The Mammoths started the game strong with Ruby Hastie ’22 putting the first goal on the board in the fifth minute. Just two minutes later, Sophia Fikke ’22 sent a corner kick into the box that Natalie Landau ’22 capitalized on with a shot that flew just high off the crossbar. Purple then notched another goal on the board in the eighth minute, which came from Amherst’s Sierra Rosado ’25 off an assist from Hastie. The Mammoths continued to keep the Lynx on the defensive for the next 10 minutes before breaking through the back line. In the 19th minute, the score moved to 3-0 in favor of Amherst thanks to Patience Kum ’25 following a pass from Fikke.
Keeper Mika Fisher ’24 saw her first action 24 minutes into the game, whose incredible playing this season has earned her the title of NESCAC Women’s Rookie of the Year. In the 32nd minute, the Lesley attack managed to find the back of the net to bump the score to 3-1. The Mammoths held their opponents there, however, and ended half with nine shots to their opponent’s two.
Upon returning to the field, Lesley took charge with a shot in the 52nd minute that was stopped by center back Charlotte Huang ’25. The Mammoths and the Lynx battled for dominance, with Landau, Carter Hollingsworth ’25, and Hastie all firing off shots in six minutes, and Fisher recording two more saves. In the 62nd minute, Landau found an opening and passed the ball to Hollingsworth, who sent it soaring past the Lesley keeper’s hands into the goal. The tensions began to rise with several fouls called on each team, including one that resulted in a penalty kick by Kum in the 72nd minute. Even with the home team now controlling the pitch with a score of 5-1, Lesley was determined to go out fighting. With just seven minutes left in the game, Sarah Sullivan ’23 broke through the Lynx defense and buried the ball in the net with the help of Isabel Stern ’23. The Mammoths ended the first round of the 2021 NCAA tournament with an incredible score of 6-1.
On Sunday, Nov. 14, women’s soccer took to Hitchcock Field once again, this time against Johns Hopkins University. Spirits were high following the previous day’s success, but this team was sure to be much tougher than Lesley. Both teams stepped onto the field with intensity but it was Hopkins who took the first shot of the day just one minute after the whistle blew. In the ninth minute, Julia Ralph ’22 notched the first shot for Amherst which she saw saved by the Hopkins keeper. The Blue Jays retaliated with seven shots in the next nine minutes; the two that made it on frame were both stopped by Fisher. Not to be outdone, the Mammoths countered with six shots of their own and kept blue defending their goal for the rest of the half. The first half may have been scoreless but was full of energy and tension with eight fouls already called against Johns Hopkins and seven against Amherst.
Blue began the second half much like they had the first, notching off a shot against Fisher only a minute into play. The Mammoths were determined, however, and Hastie led the offensive charge. Less than a minute later, with the help of a well-placed header by Landau, she found an opening and drilled the ball into the back of the net, turning the score to 1-0 in purple’s favor. The Mammoths continued to keep the pressure high following their goal, with Hastie, Hollingsworth, and Kum all firing off shots. In the 56th minute, the Blue Jays capitalized on their corner kick, sending a ball past Fisher into the goal to tie up the game. The two teams continued to battle it out, both testing each other’s keepers, but ultimately it was Johns Hopkins who managed to find the back of the net in the 64th minute. With the score now 1-2 and just 15 minutes left in the game, the nervous energy from both teams was evident. Amherst continued to fight, with Alexa Juarez ’23E, Hastie, Rosado, and Landau all taking their chances against the Hopkins keeper. In true Mammothian spirit, women’s soccer continued to fight until the final whistle blew.
The scene that ensued was not an easy one to witness, the disappointment and upset clear on each Mammoth’s face. But AWS did not walk off the field with nothing to show for all of their hard work, ending the season with an incredible 15-2-2 record and five players selected for all-NESCAC awards. In addition to Rookie of the Year, Fisher was picked as the NESCAC goalie for the first team, joined by Hastie and Kim Zhou ’22. First-years Kum and Huang also earned second team honors.
The team will certainly not be the same without the 10 seniors who played their last game on Hitchcock Field this weekend, but its potential can be seen in its newest class and the continued dedication that its players possess, both to the sport and to each other. Here’s to another incredible season for Amherst women’s soccer.