Men’s Soccer Comes Back to Defeat Wesleyan in Double-OT Thriller
Issue   |   Tue, 10/25/2016 - 22:09

Last weekend marked the final regular season matchup for the Amherst men’s soccer team, when the purple and white defeated NESCAC rival Wesleyan in double-overtime on Saturday. The result marked head coach Justine Serpone’s 150th career win, and the purple and white now boast an impressive overall record of 12-1-1.

After outshooting Wesleyan eight to six and dominating the majority of the possession, Amherst was disappointed with the scoreless first half.

Wesleyan, on the other hand, was pleased with the scoreline and their first half performance as a whole. In the words of the game’s announcer, “If Wesleyan had been offered a tie at the beginning of this game, they most certainly would have taken it.”

Building on their unexpected momentum, the Cardinals came out strong in the second half. Wesleyan took the lead in the 63rd minute, as Garrett Hardesty found a bouncing ball in Amherst’s 18-yard box and placed it in the bottom left corner of the net.

Amherst suffered another blow five minutes later, when Andrew Orozco ’17 received his second yellow card of the game. Orozco was sent off, and the purple and white were forced to play with only 10 men for the remainder of the match.

Making the most of the man advantage, the Cardinals increased their lead to two in the 75th minute of play. Jack Wolf sent a beautiful ball to Adam Cowie-Haskell at the top of the box, and Cowie-Haskell fired a shot into the back of the net.

As the final six minutes of regulation began, it looked as though the purple and white would suffer their second loss of the season. Yet with only 5:46 left to play, defensive standout Rohan Sood ’17 began Amherst’s unbelievable comeback. Sood collected a lofted ball from Bijan Zojaji ’20 in the Wesleyan’s 18-yard box and notched his first career goal in the one of the biggest moments of the season.

Sood’s goal marked a clear shift in momentum, and the purple and white managed to tie things up in the final two minutes of regulation. Cameron Hardington ’18 found the ball in the midst of a chaotic scramble in front of the Cardinals’ goal and fired a close-range shot past the Wesleyan keeper.

The game headed into overtime, and once again, Amherst came up big in the final minutes. With only three minutes left to play, Bryce Ciambella ’17 sent a beautiful long ball to Chris Martin ’17, who suddenly found himself in a two-on-one situation alongside sophomore Fikayo Ajayi.

Martin expertly drew the Cardinals’ defender and played a well-timed ball across the field to Ajayi. Playing it on goal, Ajayi himself looked ready to finish things off for the purple and white. However, the Wesleyan keeper attempted a desperate slide tackle attempt and fouled Ajayi inside the 18-yard box. Amherst was awarded a penalty kick, and Ciambella stepped up to the spot to coolly secure the win with a well-taken strike.

A true testament to the team’s resilience and determination, this game will certainly go down in program history. “It was the craziest game I’ve ever played in,” Luke Nguyen ’19 said. “This team never gives up.”

The purple and white return to action on Wednesday, Oct. 22 for the team’s final conference matchup of the season, a home game against Trinity.