Women's Soccer Falls in Second Round of NCAA's
Issue   |   Tue, 11/19/2013 - 23:05

The Amherst women’s soccer season came to a close on Sunday when the Jeffs lost 2-0 to Messiah College in the second round of the NCAA tournament. The defeat came on the heels of Saturday’s 1-0 victory in the first round over Springfield College.

The Jeffs’ first round game against Springfield was a rematch of a regular season contest, which ended in a dominant 4-0 Amherst victory. This time, Springfield was much more competitive, but the Jeffs were able to preserve a 1-0 win.

Springfield opened the game on the attack, recording four corners and two shots in the first 15 minutes.

“Springfield is a good team and we were a little off against them,” commented head coach Jen Hughes.

However, in the 24th minute, the Pride were called for a handball in their own box, giving Amherst a penalty kick. Megan Kim ’16 converted it for her tenth goal of the year. The Jeffs settled into their small edge, and neither team threatened seriously for the rest of the half.

Early in the second half, Springfield earned a penalty of its own, when Amherst committed a foul in its own box. Vicky DiNatale took the kick, but Jeff goalkeeper Holly Burwick ’16 managed to dive and knock the shot off the post.

In the next few minutes, Kim and senior Hannah Cooper both had chances to double Amherst’s advantage, but Cooper’s shot flew just over the crossbar, and Kim was foiled on a potential breakaway by Springfield keeper Lucy Gillett.

Springfield managed to generate a couple more chances in the remainder of the second half, including a shot from senior Nina Vital that forced a Burwick save, but Amherst held on for the one-goal victory.

In the game that determined the Jeffs’ second round opponent, two-time defending champion Messiah beat Lasell 4-1. Messiah also hosted all three games in Amherst’s portion of the bracket, and carried a 19-2-1 record into their matchup with the Jeffs.

Despite facing such a juggernaut, Amherst looked like the better team in the early minutes on Sunday. At the 5:22 mark, Jessy Hale ’16 launched a shot from inside the box off the crossbar, and soon afterward the Jeffs played a dangerous ball across the front of the goal that Cooper nearly connected with.

First-year Sarah Zuckerman struck the crossbar again minutes later, this time from a header.

Messiah rallied, and Alicia Frey took advantage of a ball bouncing in the Amherst box in the 18th minute, striking a volley past Burwick into the lower right corner of the net.

The Falcons gained some insurance in the 27th minute, when Nikki Elsaesser collected a loose ball in front of Burwick’s net and scored, and the Jeffs went into halftime down two goals despite generating plenty of opportunities.

In the second half, Messiah asserted control of the game, creating several good chances and mostly limiting the Jeffs.
Elsaesser’s run and pass gave Marisa Weaver a point-blank opportunity, but the freshman’s effort sailed high.

In the final minutes, Burwick cut off the angle on an Elsaesser breakaway to keep Amherst from falling further behind, as the Jeffs’ best chance of the second half, a shot from inside the box by Alex Hart ’15, was blocked by the Falcon defense.

“Messiah is probably the strongest team we faced all season,” Hughes said. “That said, it was a pretty even match. We had the edge in the first half and they had the edge in the second half.

Unfortunately, Amherst couldn’t catch a break — hit the crossbar twice — and they capitalized on their opportunities. While the result against Messiah was disappointing, we learned that when we bring our best we can play with anyone in the country. Our challenge for next year will to bring our best to every game.”

The defeat brought Amherst’s season record to 10-4-3 and was the last game in the careers of seniors Kate Sisk, Amanda Brisco, Chloe McKenzie, Sarah Duffy, Sara Abrahams, Emily Rose Colvin and Hannah Cooper.

The group compiled an overall record of 51-14-7 over their four years, including 28-5-6 in the NESCAC. In 2011, they helped the Jeffs to a record 20 wins, a NESCAC title and a trip to the national quarterfinals.