Mired in a nightmarish slump, the men’s lacrosse team suffered a brutal setback against Tufts last weekend, losing 15-5 to the No. 5 Jumbos at Bello Field on Saturday. Back on the field three days later, the Jeffs then endured a gut-wrenching 5-4 defeat against Conn. College on Tuesday. The losses dropped Amherst’s record to 8-5 (4-4 NESCAC), marking another disappointment in an underachieving season.
Starting this year’s campaign with lofty expectations, the Jeffs surged to a 7-0 record in early March while climbing to No. 3 in the national rankings. Since a 13-8 win over Nazareth on March 24, however, the Jeffs have lost five of their past six games and have been outscored 58-36 in that span. Following the debacle at Tufts, Amherst dropped out of the top-20 rankings for the first time this season.
Tufts (10-2, 6-1 NESCAC), a perennial national powerhouse, built a 12-2 lead through three quarters on Saturday, overwhelming Amherst in every facet of the game. The Jumbos held substantial advantages in shots (54-39), face-offs (16-7), and ground balls (40-28), while dominating possession for long stretches.
The Jeffs kept the score close throughout the first quarter, finding themselves behind only 1-0 after 15 minutes of play. Tufts inflicted more damage in the second quarter, however, netting four goals in a 3:27 span before Cole Cherney ’12 got the Jeffs on the scoreboard with his 26th goal with 4:12 remaining in the half.
Facing a 5-1 deficit at halftime, Amherst struggled to keep up with the Jumbos’ explosive, fast-paced attack, as the Jeffs surrendered six goals in nine minutes to fall behind 11-1. Tufts utterly dominated the third quarter, outshooting Amherst 17-4 in the period.
Alex Fox ’12 scored with 2:23 left in the third quarter to snap Tufts’ six-goal string, but the Jumbos netted a short-handed goal a minute later to give the hosts a 12-2 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Distraught after Saturday’s disappointing result, Amherst looked to rebound against Conn. College (7-5, 4-4 NESCAC) on Tuesday night.
But the Jeffs’ offense struggled to convert on scoring chances, mustering just four goals in a 5-4 loss to the Camels. Amherst carried the play against Conn College — building a 43-26 shots advantage — but the Jeffs lacked precision on attack.
In what emerged as a defensive battle, Conn. College grabbed an early 2-0 lead before Fox scored with 2:32 left in the first quarter to trim the deficit to 2-1. With both teams struggling to establish rhythm on offense, the Camels scored the only goal of the second quarter to take a 3-1 lead by halftime.
Amherst never held the lead (and never tied the score) against Conn. College; whenever the Jeffs scored to pull within one, the Camels netted the next goal to restore a two-point margin.
Fox tallied his second of the game with 29 seconds left in the third quarter, but the Jeffs could not capitalize on the momentum. Conn. College scored the decisive goal with 6:39 left in the match; Mathias found the net with 3:53 remaining, but Amherst’s comeback effort fell short.
After scoring 13 goals per game during their 7-0 run in March, the Jeffs have averaged just 6 goals in the current 1-5 slump. Despite the recent struggles, the Jeffs have essentially secured a berth in the upcoming NESCAC tournament, with two regular-season games remaining. Amherst is tied for fifth place in the conference and will almost definitely start the postseason on the road. The Jeffs will look to break out of the doldrums in a rivalry match against last-place Williams (3-8, 1-7 NESCAC) on Saturday.