Late Goal Gives Field Hockey 1-0 Win
Issue   |   Tue, 10/23/2012 - 22:01

Field hockey bounced back from a rocky stretch of conference play to record two wins last week in their push to the postseason.

The 15th-ranked Lord Jeffs used a big second-half run to pull away en route to a 5-1 victory over Smith on Thursday before traveling to Wesleyan on Saturday. In a nail-biter, the team withstood intense offensive pressure before scoring with six minutes left and holding on for a win that left them in sole possession of fifth place in the NESCAC.

The Lord Jeffs took it to Smith from the outset in a game controlled throughout by Amherst. The team ended up with an 50-2 advantage in shots and a 29-0 edge in penalty corners, and 16 minutes in Annika Nygren ’16 pounced on a rebound to open the scoring.

Smith equalized less than a minute later on their first shot of the evening, as Smith’s Allie Stein tied Smith’s single-season assist record by carrying the ball upfield and slotting the ball across to Jenny Estes, who beat Rachel Tannenbaum ’15. The Smith defense held firm after equalizing, and the teams remarkably headed into halftime tied 1-1.

The second half was once again dominated by Amherst, as Smith failed to record a shot for the last 44 minutes of the game.

The Lord Jeffs went ahead for good thanks to a slice of luck seven minutes into the half, as a blast from Alex Philie ’14 ricocheted off a defender past Nora Demick in goal. Amherst regained possession off of the restart, and a mere 22 seconds later Madeline Tank ’15 won a loose ball in front of the cage and fired home.

The Pioneers would have no respite from the Lord Jeffs’ pressure, as two minutes later Kerry Fusco ’15 one-timed the ball into the net on the right post from a Philie pass. Philie ended the scoring much the way she began it, as another powerful long shot found its way into the net in the 50th minute.

With the game’s outcome beyond doubt, co-captain Sarah Wise ’13 replaced Tannenbaum in net and did not have to make a save over the last twenty minutes. Nomi Conway ’13 and Camille Youngblood ’15 also came off the bench for the Lord Jeffs.

The team entered Saturday’s matchup tied with Wesleyan in the conference standings, and the game was a tense affair throughout.

Wesleyan had the run of play in both halves, racking up a total of 22 shots to the Lord Jeffs’ six. Tannenbaum was called on to make four first-half saves, and the game headed into halftime scoreless.

Wesleyan ramped up their play in the second half, generating 13 shots while allowing just two. Tank, however, made the most of her second-half opportunity, demonstrating her nose for goal by winning the ball in a frantic scrum in front of goal and slapping it in. Tank now sits tied with co-captain Katie McMahon ’13 for the team lead in goals with ten.

The Cardinals pushed forward for the equalizer, but Tannenbaum stood firm in goal, twice denying Wesleyan co-captain Ashley McLaren with pad saves on successive penalty corners. Amherst regained possession and ran out the clock in Wesleyan’s defensive half.

The team’s intensity and scrappy nature wasn’t lost on head coach Carol Knerr. “The team really battled and found a way to put the ball in the goal,” Knerr said. “We faced a lot of pressure defensively, but were able to stay strong and earn a was the effort of the entire team working together that got us the win.”

Amherst now sits in fifth place in the competitive NESCAC, with just one regular-season game left against Conn. College.

A win over the Camels would ensure that the Lord Jeffs avoid Middlebury and Bowdoin, ranked first and third nationally, in the first round of tournament play.

“The team is hungry to play Conn and to play a strong game in our first round NESCAC game,” Knerr said.