No. 4 Men's Soccer Cruises to 3-0 Week
Issue   |   Wed, 10/05/2011 - 01:24
Kate Berry '12
Ben Norton ’14 scored in a 4-1 win against Gordon, and also helped anchor the Jeffs’ defense against Tufts.

The men’s soccer team capped a successful and busy week with three wins against Gordon, Tufts and Lesley, pushing their undefeated streak to eight games.

The Jeffs rode a quick start to a 4-1 victory against Gordon. Amherst opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Brendan Caslin ’14 finished a cross from Jae Heo ’14. It was the first goal of Caslin’s career.

It took just three minutes for Spencer Noon ’13 to extend the Jeffs’ lead. Noon headed in a cross from Chris Lerner ’13 for his fourth goal in as many games. Amherst’s third goal came via another cross, as Ben Norton ’14 finished a pass from T.J. Kelley ’12 to give the Jeffs a 3-0 lead.

Kelley then scored on a free kick to put the Jeffs ahead 4-0 and cap the scoring. Head coach Justin Serpone was disappointed that the Jeffs could not hold the clean sheet, however, when Gordon converted a penalty kick for their first and only goal of the game.

“While I was happy with our offensive output against them, I am disappointed that we gave up a goal,” Serpone said. “Great teams will find a way to get a shutout in a game like that and we didn’t. If we want to be great, we cannot keep letting up goals.”

Captain Thebe Tsatsimpe ’12 said the team used Gordon to guage their preparation for the Tufts game. “This was actually a pretty good test for us as it was a mid-week game, away against a team which had played many more of these than us this season. We had to adjust in order to be successful. The team responded well.”

Tsatsimpe was glad that a variety of his teammates were contributing. “It was good for other players to get a run as well because as the season continues injuries will be picked up and different guys might be needed to fill different roles. So it was good to keep everybody engaged and sharpen them up because games are very different to practices.”

In their most important game of the week, the Jeffs defeated NESCAC opponent Tufts 3-0 to maintain their perfect record. Both teams were held scoreless during the first half, but the Lord Jeffs made adjustments that allowed them to jump-start their attack despite the wet, soggy conditions.

Tsatsimpe said the coaching staff’s tactical changes triggered the second-half scoring outburst. “The conditions were not conducive to playing good soccer so the game ended up being about taking the few chances that were presented and winning the one-on-one battles,” he said. The coaches “made a great tactical move in changing the formation which led to more service for the forwards.”

Tsatsimpe thought his team learned from past mistakes, as well: “We did well to keep playing after scoring as opposed to defending the game out. We made this mistake in the past few games and are trying to grow out of it.”

The first goal came in the 50th minute courtesy of yet another cross. Max Fikke ’14 sent a ball toward the middle of the box and Jae Heo ’14 won a contested header to bury it into the left corner for the Jeffs’ breakthrough goal.

Noon scored just four minutes later, when Tsatsimpe served a cross from the right side of the pitch that Noon finished near post. Alejandro Sucre ’13 capped the scoring just six minutes later, redirecting a shot from Noon for the final goal. The Jeffs held a 19-9 shot advantage, while the Jumbos held a 4-2 corner advantage.

“I was happy that we found a way to win the game with so many different players playing important roles,” Serpone said. Tufts is a very good team and we knew it was going to be a tough match and that’s exactly what happened.”

The key to the weekend may have been winning “50-50” balls, Tsatsempe said. “Winning aerial and “50-50” balls is dictated by whether one is willing to scrap for them or not. The team has generally done a good job in contesting, and luckily we’ve mostly been on the winning side of these contests. Winning the loose balls takes pressure of the defense and if connected, kick-starts the offense.”

Serpone agreed. “Soccer is all about winning first and second balls so if we have any chance at winning games we have to be good at them.”

The Jeffs completed their perfect weekend Monday, with a 4-0 win over Lesley. The team used a superb performance by substitute forward Casey McNamara ’13 and some solid defending to improve to a perfect 8-0-0 on the season. McNamara had a pair of goals and an assist. Sucre and Heo were the other goal scorers.

Tsatsimpe thinks his team may have played at the high level they are capable of for the first time this season, and hopes it will continue. “That was good as it is getting us closer to being able to play a solid 90 minutes of soccer,” he said. “Tufts was a start towards that, and now Lesley was another boost of confidence.”

Serpone was pleased to end a stellar week on a winning note. “Anytime you win three games in a week you have to be happy.”

With a huge clash against Williams looming this Sunday, team members said that they cannot afford to be complacent. Last week “is all behind us,” Serpone said. “We need to regroup and get ready for Williams on Sunday. Williams is a great team with great history and it should be another great chapter in the rivalry.”