The Amherst cross-country program seems primed to make a leap forward this year, as both the men and women look to build on successful 2011 campaigns to achieve new heights in 2012.
The men’s squad exceeded all expectations last season, shedding the ‘rebuilding’ label that had been attached to them after the loss of two consecutive senior classes, which included the remaining Jeffs who raced in the 2009 NCAA Championship.
It was perfection last year for the football team, going 8-0 en route to their second-ever NESCAC title. The program — which had never won a conference championship before 2009 — has transformed under the leadership of Coach E.J. Mills.
With two perfect seasons in the last three years, the Lord Jeffs have risen to the top of the NESCAC, going 22-2 in their last three seasons.
Bolstered by the return of core offensive players, the men’s soccer team looks to recapture the NESCAC title this season. Led by dynamic attacking players in as Spencer Noon ’13, Jae Heo ’14 and James Mooney ’13E, the Jeffs enter the season ranked sixth in the nation, well ahead of their NESCAC rivals (the only other ranked team is Wesleyan, at No. 24).
What a difference a year makes.
In 2010, the women’s soccer team struggled to an 8-7-2 record, finished middle of the table in the NESCAC and did not qualify for the NCAA tournament.
In 2011, the Lord Jeffs won the NESCAC with a perfect 17-0 season and made a deep run in the NCAA tournament, falling to eventual winner Messiah, 3-1, in the Sweet Sixteen.
The women’s volleyball team, or Firedogs as they like to be called, are hoping to build on a 2011 campaign that saw them finish 20-7 and grind their way to the No. 5 seed in the NESCAC tournament.
The highlight of the regular season was undoubtedly their come-from-behind victory over Williams, in which Amherst prevailed, 3-2, after trailing by a 2-0 score.
In the quarterfinal round of the conference championship, the Amherst women fell to Trinity, 3-1, despite a strong effort from stalwart Cristy Meier ’12.