Men's Soccer Picks up Three Victories on the Week
Issue   |   Wed, 10/08/2014 - 00:30

With three games against strong opponents in the past six days, the 11th-ranked men’s soccer team was dealt a tall order. However, the Jeffs attacked these challenges with full intensity and rose to the occasion, as they earned three key victories. Now, the Jeffs stand at 8-0-2 and sport a NESCAC unbeaten streak to 27 games. In addition, Amherst’s latest set of victories has pushed the Jeffs’ unbeaten record to 10 consecutive games.

Against the Western New England Golden Bears at Lusitano Stadium last Wednesday evening, the Jeffs trailed early, but ended up scoring two unanswered goals to take the 2-1 victory.

Less than 15 minutes into the game, Golden Bears defender Colin Macdonald ’16 put Western New England ahead on a free kick to the top right hand corner from almost 25 yards out. Western New England would continue to hold the lead throughout the first 45 minutes of play, even though the Jeffs outshot the Golden Bears 13-1 in the first half of play. The Jeffs continued their dominance of attempted shots in the second half, as they held a sizable 18-2 edge, amounting to a whopping 31-3 shot differential in Amherst’s favor over the course of the game.

Midway through the second half, quick headers from junior forward Greg Singer and defenseman Gab Wirz ’15 set up sophomore striker Chris Martin for a header that found the back of the net to tie the score at 1-1. On the game-tying goal, Martin notched his third goal on the season, while both Singer and Wirz were credited with their first assists on the year. Wirz and the Jeffs were not finished for the game, however. In the 81st minute of action, junior goalie Thomas Bull found sophomore midfielder Andrew Orozco, who then crossed it to Wirz, who put the Jeffs ahead 2-1.

This past Saturday in less than ideal conditions at Hitchcock Field, the Jeffs managed to earn a 1-0 victory over the Jeffs. Early on in the game against Hamilton, midfielder Milton Rico ’15 almost put the Jeffs ahead with a shot that just went over the bar.

In the 19th minute of action, Amherst put one on the board to break the scoreless tie when a pass from Rico set up junior striker Nico Pascual-Leone, who then proceeded to put the ball into the back of the net for his third score of the season. On the play, Rico picked up his second assist on the season. Less than 30 second later, Pascual-Leone had a legitimate opportunity to double the lead, but a strong save from Hamilton goalie Harris Pollack preserved the 1-0 score for the Continentals.

In the first half, the Jeffs certainly controlled the tone, as they outshot the Continentals by a margin of 10 attempted shots (13-3). After the overtime break, the Jeffs continued to attack, but saw increased resistance and challenges from the Continentals. In the second half, the Continentals managed eight shots on goal and held the Jeffs to nine shots. Of note, senior forward Jae Heo struck a shot off the left post that narrowly missed doubling Amherst’s lead in the game.

In the second half, neither team managed to score, meaning that Pascual-Leone’s early first half proved to be the game-winner. While the Jeffs could have feasibly added more goals to the tally this past weekend against Hamilton, Amherst managed to defeat a talented team who tied the Jeffs 1-1 in the 2013 regular season, before ultimately losing to the Jeffs 4-1 at Hitchcock Field during the NESCAC quarterfinals. Interestingly enough, Pascual-Leone accounted for the lone Amherst goal in the 2013 regular season matchup against Hamilton, just as he did in Amherst’s 1-0 victory over Hamilton.

Tuesday, Amherst faced Elms College on the road and earned a 3-0 victory. Less than 20 minutes into the game, Singer sent the ball into the box on a lob pass, which set the stage for first-year forward Kieran Bellew, who put the Jeffs ahead on his first career goal with a shot towards the bottom left corner of the net. With about 15 minutes remaining in the first half of play, defender Cameron Bean ’17 scored his first career goal off a corner kick sent in by sophomore midfielder Forest Sisk. Around the 70th minute, Bean and Sisk paired together again on a corner to give the Jeffs a 3-0 lead over Elms, as Bean scored his second goal on the day and Sisk notched his second assist off a corner kick.

In the 3-0 victory last night, the Amherst defense posted its second consecutive shutout and fifth on the season. Bull earned the shutout with five saves on the day.

Up next on Saturday, Oct. 11 at 2:30 p.m., Amherst will face Colby in a NESCAC matchup on Hitchcock Field. To date, the Mules sport a 5-4-1 overall record, with a 1-4 record in the NESCAC. Towards the end of September, the Mules defeated Middlebury 3-0 to earn their first NESCAC victory, largely as a result of two late goals from Colby junior forward Yinka Onayemi. Last season, the Jeffs defeated Colby 3-1 on the road, as Martin (with two goals) and midfielder Tommy Haskel ’16 contributed to Amherst’s scoring three-goal scoring effort.

“Colby is a good side this year that has already beaten Middlebury 3-0, so we will prepare for them the same way we would prepare to play Williams or Tufts,” Wirz said. “We expect a similarly competitive matchup against Drew and will prepare as though this were a NESCAC game.”

For the second Tuesday in a row, the Jeffs will play an evening road game. This time around, the Jeffs are slated to face Drew (6-2-4 overall) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Thus far this year, Amherst has had an impressive showing over the season’s first 10 games. The Jeffs sit atop the NESCAC standings as the only team in the conference who has not recorded a loss on the season. Looking ahead, the Jeffs only have five regular season games remaining over a three-week period, three of which will count towards NESCAC standings and two of which will be home games.

“So far we are undefeated, which has been our goal and we are happy about that,” Wirz said. “But, there is still a lot work to be done to reach our goals of winning a NESCAC Championship and a national championship. We are fine with where we are now, but we are not satisfied and we want to keep getting better every day and every game.”