Women's Soccer Out of Contention for NESCAC Title
Issue   |   Wed, 11/06/2013 - 00:55
Reid McWilliams '16, Public Affairs Office
The efforts of Maya Jackson-Gibson '14 and the rest of the Jeffs were not enough to remain in championship contention.

The Amherst women’s soccer season most likely came to an end this week, with two one-goal losses to Trinity.

The second loss bounced the Jeffs from the NESCAC tournament in the first round, which will more than likely leave them on the outside of the NCAA tournament field.

Amherst and Trinity each entered their final regular season contest with 18 points in conference play, which tied them for fourth place. The winner of Wednesday’s game would therefore host the first round of the eight-team NESCAC tournament.

The teams played a scoreless first half, although Trinity outshot the Jeffs 8-2, including an effort from Karyn Barrett that rattled the crossbar in the second minute.

The Bantams maintained the pressure early in the second half, and Elisa Dolan scored, with an assist from Barrett, in the 61st minute.

Amanda Brisco ’14 and Sarah Zuckerman ’17 led the Jeffs’ attempts to find an equalizer, but Trinity managed to hold on for the 1-0 win.

Trinity finished 7-3 in the NESCAC, good for fourth place, and Amherst finished in fifth at 5-2-3, meaning that the teams would meet in the first round of the conference tournament.

For Trinity, the win continued an impressive turnaround from 2012, where the Bantams finished 3-7 and failed to qualify for the NESCAC tournament.

Saturday’s quarterfinal in Hartford was the first time the two teams had met in the NESCAC tournament.

The Jeffs were the better team in the early stages of the first half, and Sarah Duffy ’14 put them ahead when her shot in the 19th minute beat Trinity keeper Monica DiFiori and flew into the top left corner.

Trinity fought back quickly, however, and Julia Leahy found Barrett at point-blank range for the tying goal.

The Bantams continued their momentum at the start of the second half. In the 49th minute, Barrett assisted Abbey Lake for what would turn out to be the game-winning goal.

With the 2-1 victory, Trinity moved on to the semifinals. They will play Williams next Saturday in Middlebury for a spot in the NESCAC finals held on Sunday.

Amherst is left to hope that the NCAA selection committee will award them an at large bid to the tournament field. Although the format is not the same every year, the committee typically invites 64 teams, including about 43 bids to teams that have won their conferences, which leaves about 21 at large bids.

The Jeffs’ fifth place NESCAC finish and early exit from the conference would seem to make a bid a long shot, but their overall record of 9-3-3 remains impressive, as does their early season win over 14th ranked Middlebury.

The situation leaves Amherst seniors unsure of whether they have played their final games.

“I just want to thank my teammates for teaching me love and never letting me battle through anything alone, soccer and non-soccer related,” said senior Chloe McKenzie. “Four years on this team has not just made me a better soccer player. I was able to find the value in relationships with others, especially my teammates. Battling injuries over and over again, I haven’t had better teammates who have supported me through it all. I got to spend it with my best friends.”

Captain Kate Sisk ’14 added, “I’m so thankful to be a part of AWS. My four years of soccer here at Amherst have been so fun and special, and I’ll always appreciate the chance I’ve had to play the beautiful game with these beautiful people.”
The team will find out next Monday if they have received a bid, and if their season will continue.

When asked to reflect on the 2013 fall, Coach Jen Hughes remarked, “We had a great group this year, and despite some tough results, especially recently, I truly enjoyed the season. We worked hard, we improved, and we had fun … which is exactly what we set out to do. The senior class is a wonderful class, and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with them and watch them grow over the last 4 years — individually and collectively. They will leave some big shoes to fill.”