Men's Soccer Goes to OT in First Two Contests
Issue   |   Wed, 09/10/2014 - 00:23

The Amherst men’s soccer team went to overtime in both of the squad’s first two matches of the 2014 season. On Tuesday, Sept. 2, in the season opener on the road against the New England College Pilgrims, the Jeffs prevailed in a 2-1 overtime grind. This past Sunday, the Jeffs tied the Middlebury Panthers, 1-1, to kick off NESCAC conference play, bringing Amherst’s record to 1-0-1 (0-0-1 in NESCAC play) to start off the season.

Against NEC, the Jeffs and the Pilgrims both remained scoreless following the first 45 minutes of action. Despite no score in the opening half, Amherst outshot New England College 16-1, with the Jeffs putting 11 shots on goal and holding a sizable edge in corners as well. The offensive pressure that the Jeffs applied throughout the first half would continue into the second period of play.

Early in the second half, senior striker Jae Heo notched the first Amherst goal of the season to put the Jeffs ahead 1-0. Amherst would preserve the lead for a little over 20 minutes, but NEC equalized in the 75th minute on a goal from forward Manny Arteaga. After the Pilgrims tied the game up, the two teams were headed to extra time with a score of 1-1.

About six minutes into the overtime, midfielder Bryce Ciambella ’17E scored the game-winner in his Amherst debut to give the Jeffs the victory.

Heo led the offensive attack with nine shots, four of which were on net, while junior forward Nico Pascual-Leone had five shots on goal. For the Pilgrims, goalkeeper Tenzin Khenrab kept his team in the game by stopping 14 shots.

The Jeffs demonstrated a flair for the dramatic in their road matchup against Middlebury on Sunday. Just as it was the case in the first game of the season, Amherst and the Panthers both remained scoreless in the first half. Heo almost put the Jeffs ahead midway through the first half, but Middlebury goalie Greg Sydor was able to stop his promising shot.

Minutes into the second half, Midd. had a good opportunity to pull ahead, but goalie Thomas Bull ’16 was there to stop the Panthers’ attempt and keep the game scoreless. Junior forward Greg Singer almost scored the first goal of the game about 25 minutes into the second half, but his header off a cross from Heo just missed the net.

The Panthers took a late lead in the second half when a long Middlebury throw-in found its way into the box and deflected off an Amherst defenseman. However, the Jeffs did not let this late goal deter them. With less than a minute remaining, the Jeffs were able to tie the game. Off of a throw-in from the left side of the fielder, a header from senior midfielder Milton Rico set up defender Gabriel Wirz ’15, who found the right side of the net for a clutch goal that would send the game into overtime.

While the Jeffs held the shots advantage in both of the regulation period halves, the Panthers outshot Amherst in the overtime periods, with neither team able to convert a scoring chance in extra time. Bull made a good save on a shot from midfielder Noah Goss-Woliner to keep the game level in OT. Overall, Bull had six saves on the day.

Of the match against the Panthers, head coach Justin Serpone said that the game was “exactly [as] expected.”

“They are a really good team that will compete for a NESCAC Championship this season. We still have a lot to work on, but I was proud of our resiliency by playing until the final whistle,” he added.

Saturday, Sept. 13 at noon, the Jeffs will travel to Maine to face Bowdoin, who has a 1-1-0 overall record and an 0-1-0 mark in NESCAC play, as the team’s 2-1 loss to Wesleyan. Last season, the Jeffs defeated the Polar Bears by a score of 3-0 during the regular season, with goals from Singer and defender Bubba Van Wie ’15, as well as assists by Pascual-Leone and Van Wie. In the 2013 NESCAC Semifinals, the Jeffs secured a 2-1 double overtime victory over the Polar Bears, with the game-winner coming from sophomore defender Justin Aoyama.

“This week is all about getting better,” Serpone said. “Bowdoin is a top NESCAC team with some terrific players, and they played us even here at Amherst in the NESCAC Semifinals. I am sure they will be ready to bring their best on Saturday.”