Women: Soccer Teams Smash Middlebury
Issue   |   Wed, 09/21/2011 - 03:09
Megan Robertson '15

Fueled by a stingy defense and the sudden emergence of sophomore striker Sarah Duffy, the women’s soccer team roared into the new season with three shutout victories this past week. The Jeffs routed Mount Holyoke 7-0 last Wednesday, then took out NESCAC foes Bates and Middlebury — both matches ended in a 2-0 result — at Hitchcock Field over the weekend.
The Jeffs started their season by crushing Mount Holyoke 7-0, easily overwhelming the Lyons. Amherst wasted no time in grabbing the lead, scoring two goals in the first 2:24 of play to stun the Lyons. Amherst continued to dominate — outshooting Holyoke 14-2 by halftime — but did not score again until the 56th minute.

After Duffy netted her first goal at 55:08 to extend the lead to 3-0, the Jeffs scored four more goals in the next 16 minutes to turn the game into a 7-0 laugher. Duffy ran circles around the Holyoke defense, scoring four goals in an impressive sophomore debut. In 2010, she scored two goals in 16 games, so her four-goal performance against Holyoke indicates a significant breakthrough in 2011. Amanda Brisco ’14 added two goals against Holyoke to cap an impressive offensive effort.
The Jeffs would face much stiffer competition in Bates and Middlebury over the weekend, but grinded out two 2-0 victories nevertheless to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the conference.

Amherst opened its league slate with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Bates on Saturday. The Jeffs dominated possession for much of the match, but the pesky Bobcats kept Amherst off the scoreboard until late in the second half.

From the opening whistle, the Jeffs relentlessly exerted pressure on the Bobcats’ backline. In the fourth minute, the Jeffs missed a glorious chance to grab the lead when Duffy sent a cross that found an unmarked Brisco in the box, but Brisco pushed her effort just over the crossbar. The Jeffs came close again in the 20th minute, when senior Jill Kochanek’s free kick ricocheted off the post. Amherst finished the half with a convincing 15-6 edge in shots, but no goals to show for the discrepancy in scoring chances.

The Jeffs’ offense, however, began to find more holes in the Bates’ backline after the 60th minute, as the Bobcats — constantly playing from a defensive position — grew tired from chasing after the ball for long stretches of the match.
In the 62nd minute, Allison Dorey ’12 sent a lofty cross into the box to a well-positioned Mel Stier ’15, but the Bates goalkeeper denied Steir’s header with a diving save. The Jeffs intensified the pressure, creating a flurry of quality scoring chances over the next 10 minutes. After racing onto a ball on the right flank, Duffy had a low blast stopped by Burns in the 64th minute, and Stier barely missed getting a foot onto a beautiful cross by Dorey in the 65th minute.

The persistent Jeffs finally broke through in the 68th minute, with Duffy scoring her fifth goal of the season. After receiving a pass from midfield, Brisco surged down the left sideline, beating a Bates defender before sending a low cross into the box. Sprinting to get in position, Duffy ran onto the ball and volleyed it into the back of the net. The Jeffs added an insurance goal in the 83rd minute, when Kochanek scored on a header from an Amherst corner kick.

“I was also really pleased with our ability to stay focused and keep attacking after missing some great opportunities,” Kochanek said. “We did not let that discourage us and kept our aggressive play and finally put the ball in the back of the net.”
The Jeffs geared up the next day to take on league nemesis Middlebury. In last year’s match between the two teams, the Panthers inflicted a crushing defeat to Amherst; Middlebury erased a 3-0 deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation before winning in overtime by a 4-3 score—a devastating result for the Jeffs.

“Middlebury was a huge- game for us. Last year we had a frustrating outcome, and so this game meant a lot for us,” Kochanek said.

This time around, the Jeffs’ defense stymied the Panthers from start to finish, while Amherst capitalized on set pieces en route to a 2-0 victory. After the Jeffs earned their first corner of the afternoon in the 26th minute, Kathryn Nathan ’13 sent a cross that bounced around in the box; Jess Wall ’12 found the loose ball and slotted it into the net to give the Jeffs a 1-0 lead. Five minutes later, the galvanized Jeffs netted a second goal off a set piece, as Duffy scored off a corner kick.

With the Jeffs holding a 2-0 lead, the Amherst defense suffocated Middlebury’s offensive thrusts, closing passing lanes and clearing out set pieces. The Panthers enjoyed very few scoring chances, and Amherst goalkeeper Allie Horwitz ’12 was solid in stopping six shots.

“We had some decent combinations during the game, and although we have room to improve, we really battled for the win,” Kochanek said. “I thought we attacked Middlebury all over the field, from defense to offensive pressure and put them on their heels.”

“The game is a huge confidence boost, a great win in the NESCAC, and revenge from last year,” Kochanek said.
After securing two crucial wins last weekend, the Jeffs hope to ride the momentum against Springfield on Thursday and Hamilton on Saturday.