Field Hockey Opens Season 1-1, Looks to Rebound Against Keene State
Issue   |   Tue, 09/15/2015 - 23:25
Mark Box
With a preseason rank of 13th in the nation, the Jeffs hope to avenge their early NESCAC loss but face tough competition in Keene and Middlebury.

Entering the season ranked 13th in the nation, the Amherst College field hockey team handily defeated Five College opponent Mount Holyoke before falling to third-ranked Bowdoin this past Saturday.

The game against Mount Holyoke marked the team’s season opener, and the offense came out strong. Four different Amherst players contributed goals, and the Jeffs took the game by a decisive 5-0 score.

Katie Paolano ’16 quickly put Amherst on the board, collecting her own rebound and finding the back of the net just two minutes into play.

The Mount Holyoke defense responded to the early goal, stymying the Jeffs’ offense for the majority of the remainder of the half. But Sara Culhane ’17 eventually extended the Amherst lead, tallying her first goal of the season at the 28-minute mark.

After the halftime break, the Jeffs continued to impress on the offensive side of the ball. Culhane again found the back of the net for her second goal of the season in the 44th minute of play. The scoring opportunity came thanks to a well-placed corner pass executed by captain Annie Turnbull ’16.

Turnbull added another assist on Amherst’s fourth goal of the game, this time finding Annika Nygren ’16 in the 55th minute.

Culhane provided the Jeffs’ final goal, giving Amherst the 5-0 win and also earning the junior her second career hat trick.

Keeper Emily Horwitz ’17 made five saves en route to her first shutout of the season.

The Jeffs dominated in all categories, holding a 22-8 advantage in shots and an 11-4 edge in corners.

Moving to conference action, the impressive Jeffs’ offense faltered in a Saturday loss to Bowdoin. Amherst suffered a 4-1 defeat in their home opener.

Both teams enjoyed various scoring opportunities in the early moments of play, but the Polar Bears capitalized first. In the 23rd minute, Rachel Kennedy corralled a loose ball in front of the net and found Nicole Barieri for the score.

Amherst was able to mount a response soon after, as Paolano found Elizabeth Turnbull ’18 in front of the net off a corner path. Turnbull blasted a strong shot on goal that Bowdoin keeper Clara Belitz narrowly saved.

Before the half was out, Bowdoin added to their lead as Kennedy scored off a corner pass from Kelsey Mullaney.

The Polar Bears retained offensive momentum in the second half, as they extended their lead to three in the 45th minute.

Horwitz turned away three consecutive shots before a penalty in the box earned Bowdoin a penalty stroke opportunity. Kennedy converted for her fifth point of the day.

Amherst did eventually get on the board, as Culhane notched her fourth goal of the season just two minutes following Bowdoin’s penalty stroke.

Bowdoin tacked on one more goal with 18 minutes of play remaining. Kimmy Ganong tallied an unassisted score, lifting Bowdoin to the 4-1 victory.

Horwitz tallied 22 saves in the loss but the 32-2 shots differential proved to be too much for the Jeffs to overcome.

“We have a fairly young core and a lot of skill and depth at every position, but we still need to work on supporting each other both defensively and offensively,” Culhane said. “Saturday was tough, but we now have a lot of room for growth. In order to rebound this week we need to focus on strong off-ball movement, quick passing and communication.”

The team will now look to strengthen those problem areas and turn things arond with a non-conference matchup against Keene State on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Amherst defeated the Owls by a 2-0 score in 2014.

Following the Keene game, the Jeffs return to NESCAC action and will host Middlebury for an 11 a.m. start on Saturday, Sept. 19. Saturday’s game will be crucial for Amherst. The team suffered a 4-1 loss to the Panthers in 2014, as Middlebury went on to compete in the NCAA semifinals.