Women’s Soccer Defeats Middlebury, Extends Undefeated Streak
Issue   |   Wed, 09/23/2015 - 00:45
Rob Mattson
Emily Hester ’17 scored the game-winner, her first goal of the season, in the Jeffs’ victory over Middlebury.

With 17 seconds remaining in Saturday’s contest, Amherst College forward Emily Hester ’17 notched the game-winning goal to lift the Jeffs (4-0-0) to a 2-1 victory over conference rival Middlebury (1-1-1). With the win, the undefeated Jeffs captured their third conference win of the year.

The first half resulted in a stalemate, in which both teams were unable to find the back of the net. Amherst had a strong opportunity early in the first half, when Megan Kim ’16 found first-year Rubii Tamen at the top of the box. Tamen fired a shot on net, but the Panthers’ goalie was able to make a diving stop to her left.

Amherst slightly edged Middlebury with a 5-4 shot advantage while Middlebury held a 3-1 advantage on corner kicks. Just like last year, the game was decided in a second half nail-biter that left Amherst on top.

“When we do the little things right we start to click with each other, and that builds up our collective confidences,” Hester said. “We came out a little nervous in the first half, but by the second half we flipped a switch and were really ready to battle for our win together.”

In the 58th minute, the purple and white capitalized on a corner kick when Hester, who leads the team in assists, connected with Amherst’s top goal scorer, Hannah Guzzi ’18. Guzzi drilled a shot past Middlebury’s goalie to put Amherst ahead 1-0.

“As a team, we started to communicate more and have an attacking mentality in the second half,” captain Jessy Hale ’16 said. “We got more shots on goal and attacks in the final third.”

The Middlebury squad wouldn’t fall easily. Twenty minutes later, Middlebury tied the game 1-1 when Emma Shumway collected a ricocheted shot and nailed one into the back of the net.

Propelled by senior leadership, the Amherst team responded just in the knick of time. Senior forward Rachael Abernethy left the crowd in awe as she raced down the field and placed the ball directly at Hester’s feet. Hester gave the ball one touch and then fired a shot to the right side to clench a thrilling 2-1 victory as time expired.

Amherst’s unyielding back line was able to hold the Panthers off for the remaining 15 minutes of action. Senior net minder Holly Burwick posted five saves en route to the victory.

The last time the purple and white defeated Middlebury was in regular season action in 2011, the same year Amherst won the NESCAC championship and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals.

The 17th-ranked Jeffs are set to return to action in an away contest against their conference archrival, second-ranked Williams (5-0-0) on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 11 a.m. Within the past three seasons, Amherst has posted a 1-1-1 record in regular season games against the Ephs. In last year’s matchup, Guzzi and Hester chipped in a goal apiece to lead Amherst to a 2-0 victory. Hester and Guzzi will be on the attack again this year as the Jeffs look to replicate similar success and extend their win streak to five games.

They’ll finish up the weekend by hosting Wheaton College for a 2 p.m. start on Sunday.

“Moving forward it will be important to put a full 90 minutes of Amherst women’s soccer on the field,” Abernethy said. “We have a very specific process and way of play that serves us well. We work hard to practice different elements of our style everyday. The more we learn to trust that process, put it into use for the entire game and hold ourselves to the expectations we set for the season, the more successful we will be.”

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