Women’s Soccer Sets Sights on Postseason Run
Issue   |   Thu, 09/03/2015 - 22:32
Rob Mattson
Forward Rachel Abernethy ’16 scored seven goals for the Jeffs last season in addition to posting two assists.

After finishing the 2014 season with a 12-5-1 overall record and a 7-3 mark in conference play, the Amherst women’s soccer team will kick off its 2015 season effort with a non-conference matchup against Mount Holyoke on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Last season in its fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, the team fell in a second round matchup against Nazareth that was decided by penalty kicks. This year the Jeffs look to continue finding success despite graduating much of their defensive lineup, including first team all-NESCAC selection Maya Jackson-Gibson ’15 and second all-NESCAC selection Mel Stier ’15.

“I think one of the most important things is our chemistry both on and off the field because a lot of seniors graduated,” senior captain Jessy Hale said. “It’s important for people to be on the same page and invested in the team, so that we can be successful. That starts with the senior class and goes all the way down to first-years.”

Although this year’s senior class is small in numbers, the four seniors will be integral to the Amherst offenses and defense. Returning three-year starter and senior keeper Holly Burwick will anchor the Amherst defense along with senior captain and three-year starting center back Hale. Burwick concluded a dominant junior campaign by posting the third highest save percentage in the NESCAC and ranking on three additional leader boards. Junior outside back Emily Masten will accompany the two seniors to create a tenacious defensive presence for Amherst.

“The past few years we’ve found that a lot of our success has come from a strong back line,” Hale said. “If we are able to communicate defensively then we have more chances offensively to score.”

Senior forwards Rachael Abernethy and Megan Kim will lead the attack on the offensive end. Abernethy and Kim have proved to be impact players for the Amherst offense throughout their careers at Amherst. Last season, Abernethy was the team’s second leading scorer, while Kim led the team in assists.

Hannah Guzzi, a sophomore forward and Amherst’s leading scorer last year, also returns to fuel Amherst’s offense and build upon her standout first-year campaign. Having graduated no forwards and with strong returners in the center midfield position, the Amherst offense looks promising.

Additionally, the Jeffs add nine first-years to the roster this season.

The new talent will be led by a veteran coach. Jen Hughes will serve as head coach again, this time in her 12th season in the position. She’ll hope to improve upon her already impressive 127-39-5 career record.

The Jeffs will complete just less than a week of preseason practices before launching into the 2015 season on the road. Amherst will then return to Hitchcock Field to host NESCAC foe Bowdoin in their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Other games to circle on the schedule include another conference match-up, this one on Saturday, Sept. 19. Amherst will host Middlebury for a noon kick-off in a rematch of last year’s NESCAC quarterfinals. The Jeffs fell to the Panthers by a narrow 1-0 score. Amherst won the regular season meeting by the same score.

“The returners are really excited about this season and looking forward to our on and off the field success,” Hale said.