Winter Season: Sports Recap
Issue   |   Fri, 05/18/2012 - 13:20
Photo courtesy of Alec Jacobson '12

Women’s Basketball
The defending NCAA Champion women’s basketball team began this season right where they left off last year: winning. The Lady Jeffs faced a stiff challenge this season, as they lost three important members of the Class of 2011, but they looked to their depth to carry them to success this year.

In regular season play, Amherst looked every bit the part of a dominant powerhouse, going undefeated in 24 games. However, that record was not without its tense moments, as the Jeffs barely eked out a one point win against Colby early in the season.

Nevertheless, the Jeffs entered the NESCAC Tournament as the No. 1 seed and easily rolled to their third consecutive Championship. Unfortunately, though, the Jeffs were unable to repeat that success at NCAAs.

The Jeffs made their way to the Final Four before losing to George Fox in a close battle of unbeaten teams. The loss ended an impressive streak of 50 consecutive victories for the Jeffs, dating back to last season, but the team will surely bounce back strongly next year.

Men’s Basketball
After making the NCAA quarterfinals a year ago, the men’s basketball team had high hopes entering the season. The Jeffs began the year on fire, winning their first eight contests and staying hot to finish the regular season 22-2.

The team went undefeated in NESCAC play, although that certainly did not come easy, as Amherst barely squeaked out last-second, thrilling victories in their final two regular season games.

With those impressive wins, the Jeffs earned the top-seed in the NESCAC Tournament and rode that momentum to the NESCAC Championship game. It was another close contest, but Amherst again managed to come out on top, as senior Taylor Barrise knocked down the game-winning three-pointer with 3.2 seconds left, giving the Jeffs a 71-69 lead they would not relinquish.

With the victory, Amherst advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where they earned two dominant early round wins before falling in the Round of 16 to Franklin & Marshall.

Men’s Ice Hockey
After losing in the NESCAC Championships last season, the men’s ice hockey team exceeded expectations this year and played their way deep into the NCAAs.

After a solid 5-0 start to the season, Amherst continued to build on that momentum, finishing the season 17-1 in-conference and earned the top seed and home-ice in the NESCAC playoffs.

There, Amherst was pushed to the test repeatedly but responded strongly, beating Williams and Middlebury on back-to-back days to win the conference title. The win earning themselves a direct bid to the NCAA Championships.

The Jeffs were able to earn a victory in their quarterfinal matchup, topping Plattsburg St. 3-1 in front of a packed home crowd.

Earning a trip to Lake Placid, N.Y. for the program’s first ever Frozen Four appearance, the Jeffs suffered a tough overtime loss to Oswego, 2-1, that ended their run in the Semifinals.

All in all, it was an impressive season for the Jeffs, and they will look to build on their success as they push toward another NESCAC title and another trip to Lake Placid.

Women’s Ice Hockey
After a somewhat disappointing 2010-2011 season, the women’s ice hockey team looked to return to their dominating ways this year.

The Lady Jeffs got off to a strong start, winning their first seven games in-conference, en route to a 19-4-1 regular season record. That record was good enough for the second seed in the NESCAC Championships, where the Jeffs advanced to the finals.

There, they faced off against No. 1-seeded Middlebury in a contest that came down to the wire. Unfortunately, the Jeffs were unable to pull out the victory, as they lost in heartbreaking fashion, 1-0, in overtime.

Amherst did still earn a bid to the NCAA tournament, but they were paired against defending champion Norwich in the opening round. The Jeffs lost that contest, but still put together a respectable season, marked by their return to the NCAA Championships.

Next season, the Jeffs look to build on their NESCAC momentum and gain revenge against Middlebury.

Indoor Track and Field
The Lady Jeffs’ season was highlighted by a second-place finish at the ECAC Championships. First, however, the squad captured fourth place at the Tufts Invitational and first place at the Smith Tartan Invitational. From there, the Lady Jeffs proceeded to finish ninth at the Div. III New England Championships and 27th at the Open New England Championships before heading to the ECAC’s. There, Lauren Almeida ’13 brought her best game, pacing the field in the 1000-meter run, as did Keri Lambert ’13, who performed admirably in three separate events.

Her personal best time of 4:53.76 in the mile run was the second fastest in school history and one of the five best Div. III times of the year. Finally, Naomi Bates ’14 set a new school record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 25.68. Lambert, Bates and Almeida, along with Melissa Sullivan ’12, headed to the NCAA Championships to compete in the distance medley relay.

It was an equally impressive campaign on the men’s side, which ultimately propelled Amherst to third place in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup standings. The Jeffs won their third scoring event of the season, the Springfield Invitational, as they topped rival Williams by a mere 14 points.

After a solid sixth place finish at the Div. III New England Championships and a 20th place result at the Open New England Championships, the Jeffs headed to the ECAC Championships. There, they finished a formidable third in a field of 62 behind first place showings from Matt Melton ’14 (500-meter dash), Pat Grimes ’13 (mile run) and Ben Scheetz ’12 (1000-meter run). For his season-long excellence, Scheetz was named the national track athlete of the year for the second year in a row. Grimes also qualified for the NCAA finals with his performance in the mile run.

Having improved their record in each of the last four seasons, the women’s squash team was looking to continue their rise to the top of B Division rankings this year.

Unfortunately, though, the Lady Jeffs got off to a bit of a rough start, as they lost six of their first nine games. To their credit, Amherst responded strongly, winning their next five contests before losing to Williams at the Little III Championships.

Building on that winning streak, the Jeffs entered the NESCAC Championships as the sixth seed and proceeded to earn seventh place in the tournament. The Jeffs then closed out their season by avenging an earlier loss to Bowdoin by defeating the Polar Bears in the CSA Team Championships.

Having graduated four of their top six players to graduation, the 2011-2012 men’s squash team needed younger players to step up this season. The Jeffs were looking to build on the success of last year’s team, who earned 14 wins in a season, only the second Amherst team to do so since 1996.

The Jeffs’ season got off to a slow start, as the team dropped five of their first eight contests. However, Amherst responded by winning with a five-match winning streak, before losing to Williams in the Little III Championships.

The streak gave the team important momentum, and they went on to earn a respectable fifth place in the NESCAC Championships. Building on that success, the Jeffs wrapped up the year by winning the Summer Cup (C Division) consolation championship for the second time in as many years.

Swimming and Diving
After losing the NCAA Swimmer of the Year and NESCAC Diver of the Year to graduation, the women’s swimming and diving team certainly faced a challenge in making up for that lost talent this season.

However, with improving young members of the team, the Lady Jeffs were unperturbed and planned on continuing their NCAA streak of success, which has seen them finish in the top 10 at Nationals in each of the last nine years. In line with those expectations, the team got off to a solid start, winning their first four meets of the year.

The Jeffs continued to build on that momentum throughout the season, leading to an impressive second-place showing at the NESCAC Championships.

Their season then culminated at the NCAA Championships in respectable fashion, a 13th place finish. Their success marked the 15th consecutive year in which the Lady Jeffs finished in the top 15 at the NCAA tournament, and they will look to build on that success next season.

Having earned four consecutive top-10 finishes at the NCAA tournament, the men’s swimming and diving team came into this season with high expectations once again.

Living up to those expectations, the Jeffs won their first six contests of the year, pushing their dual-match winning streak to 15, dating back to previous seasons.

Unfortunately, the Jeffs did meet their match against another unbeaten team, MIT, in their next contest. Amherst, though, was undeterred by the loss, as they recovered to earn second-place at the NESCAC Championships, setting a new program record with 1,959 points.

The Jeffs followed that by earning sixth place at the NCAA Championships, marking the team’s fourth consecutive top-six finish.