A Year in Review: Fall Sports
Issue   |   Fri, 05/23/2014 - 11:48
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson

Field Hockey
Riding a 12-game win streak into the NESCAC tournament, the field hockey team’s unbeaten stretch was snapped by Middlebury in the 59th minute of the conference semifinals, halting their postseason run earlier than they had both expected and hoped.

After suffering two overtime losses to start the season, the Jeffs bounced back to win 13 straight, featuring seven shut-outs at the hands of goalie Rachel Tannenbaum ’15. With a 1.71 goals against average, the junior was honored with a spot on the NFHCA National Academic Squad and All-NESCAC Second Team.

Despite their 13-3 record, the Jeffs failed to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. However, there were still a number of bright spots for the team this season, including a 3-2 win over Trinity in Amherst’s regular season finale as well as 4-3 win over Wesleyan.

Senior Krista Zsitvay led the offense with 12 goals, 13 assists and 37 points — a team-high and fifth best in the conference — while Madeline Tank ’15 connected for 13 goals and 30 points on the season. With Zsitvay graduating, Tank, along with sophomores Katie Paolano and Annika Nygren, look to lead the Jeffs to another top seed in the conference next season.

Playing on the newly renovated Pratt Field, the football team brought home a share of the NESCAC title this past fall season, splitting the honor with Middlebury and Wesleyan.

The Jeffs got off to a 4-0 start before suffering their first and only loss of the season at the hands of Wesleyan during Homecoming weekend. The Jeffs bounced back from the setback by winning three straight — featuring a nail-biting come-from-behind 17-16 win against Trinity during Family Weekend and a 20-7 victory over archrival Williams.

The team’s reliable defense proved to be the one of the best in the conference, leading the NESCAC in interceptions (20), sacks (22) and fewest points per game allowed (11.8). Defensive backs Landrus Lewis ’14E and Jimmy Fairfield-Son ’16 both earned NESCAC Player of the Week Honors, helping head coach E.J. Mills notch his 100th win of his career.

Offensively, Max Lippe ’15 threw 10 touchdowns for 1,459 yards, including the game-winner to Wade McNamara ’14 with only 33 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter against Colby. Senior Jake O’Malley and junior Gene Garay led the receivers with a combined eight touchdowns and 816 yards on the season.

On Sept. 20 next fall, Amherst will begin its quest for back-to-back conference titles in its season opener against Bates.

Women’s Soccer
The women’s soccer team went 10-4-3 this past season, earning an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. After being ousted by Trinity in the NESCAC Quarterfinals, the team topped Springfield 1-0 in the first round of NCAA’s thanks to a score off a penalty kick from Megan Kim ’16 — one of her 10 goals on the season. The Jeffs would fall to tenth-ranked Messiah 2-0 in the next round of the tournament to end their post-season run.

Goalkeeper Holly Burwick was second in the NESCAC in save percentage (0.887), goals against (8) and goals-against average (0.48). Kim, along with Sarah Duffy ’14, led the offense, with each scoring two game-winning goals on the season. In the team’s season opener against Middlebury, Kim scored the lone goal in overtime off of Burwick’s clear to give Amherst the 1-0 victory.

Losing only Duffy and Hannah Cooper ’14 from the starting lineup, the Jeffs have a strong returning squad to put them in contention for the NESCAC title next fall.

Men’s Soccer
With yet another almost perfect season, the fifth-ranked men’s soccer team went 18-1-2 this past fall, ending the season with the team’s only loss of the year. Handing Amherst a heartbreaking 1-0 loss, archrival Williams sent the Jeffs packing in the NCAA Elite Eight for the second year in a row.

Despite not advancing to the Final Four, the Jeffs still have much to be proud of this season, including a 1-0 victory over the Ephs earlier in the fall to clinch the team’s third-consecutive NESCAC Title. Captain Max Fikke ’14 scored the winning goal and earned NESCAC Player of the Week Honors for his performance. Fikke also had the game-winner in double overtime in the team’s regular season game against the Ephs. The senior was recognized with First Team All-NESCAC Honors.

Sophomore goalkeeper Thomas Bull was also named First Team All-NESCAC and was selected as the league’s top goalkeeper for his conference-best 0.46 goals against average, allowing only eight scores in over 1,550 minutes. Bull and Fikke were also named All-Region First Team along with seniors Julien Aoyama and Ben Norton.

Sophomores Greg Singer and Nico Pascual-Leone led the offense for the Jeffs with a combined 15 goals and 13 assists. Notably, Pascual-Leone scored the winning goal off an assist from Singer with just over a minute remaining against Western New England.

First-year Chris Martin also made significant offensive contributions, scoring eight goals and three game-winners. Next fall, Div. III New England Coach of the Year Justin Serpone and the Jeffs hope to capture the elusive National Championship.

The volleyball team rebounded from a mediocre 2012 season (14-9) with a 20-8 record this past fall, going 7-3 in the NESCAC and advancing to the conference semifinals for the first time since 2010.

The young squad, led by captain Lauren Antion ’15, won the Johnson & Wales Invitational in September and placed second at the Springfield Invitational, where head coach Sue Everden notched her 600th career win. In October, the team recorded a nine-match winning streak thanks to multiple first-years making a big impact in their debut seasons.

Maggie Danner ’17 led the team in kills with 315, earning First Team All-NESCAC honors. Fellow first-year Nicole Gould had 286 kills, while Nicole Carter ’16 had a team-high 823 assists. Sophomore Katie Warshaw led the conference in digs (458) and Antion had 70 blocks on the season to spearhead the defense. With no graduating seniors, the Jeffs hope to further improve in the fall of 2014.

Cross Country
After a slow start, the men’s cross country team ended its season on a high note, finishing third out of 46 teams at the ECAC Championships and eighth out of 50 at NCAA Regionals. Dan Crowley ’16, Greg Turissini ’15 and Charlie Reighard ’14 led the pack at NCAA Regionals, as the trio placed in the top 40 runner out of over 350 competitors. Crowley also represented the Jeffs at the NCAA Div. III Championships for his second straight appearance, placing 175th out of 275.

KC Fussell ’15 followed his stellar sophomore season with a second place finish at the Little Three Championships. Crowley was close behind in third, while Turissini and Reighard placed seventh and 14th, respectively. These performances were not enough to push the Jeffs past the eventual champ, Williams.

A number of first-years made a name for themselves this season, as Kevin Connors, Ben Fielder, Raymond Meijer and Steven Lucey all had top finishes over the course of the fall. Notably, Meijer placed 11th at Little Three’s and 13th overall at the Purple Valley Classic. He and the rest of the class of 2017 look to step up next season as the team says goodbye to Greenstein, Reighard and Alvaro Morales ’14.

The women’s cross country team began their season winning the Smith Invitational title, as Lexi Sinclair ’16 brought home the individual title and teammate Lizzy Briskin ’15 finished in a close second. Briskin would lead the Jeffs again at NCAA Regionals, earning the Jeffs top finish with 36th place overall to help the team place eighth out of 53. The junior captain was also the team’s top finisher at both the NEICAAA Championships and NESCAC Championships.

Cat Lowdon ’17 had a stellar debut season, including a 12th-place finish at Little Three’s, and fellow first-year Sophie Currin was right behind her for 15th. The two also competed at NCAA Regionals, placing in the top quarter of competitors.

Losing only four seniors to graduation, Amy Dao, Jasia Kaulbach, Brooke Kirkham and Lisa Walker, the team looks to continue its success in the fall.

Women’s Golf
Led by first-year Jamie Gracie, the women’s golf team had six top-five tournament finishes this past year. Gracie placed sixth with a two day total of 156 at the NYU Invitational to give Amherst fifth out of 11 in the team’s first competition of the fall. At the Williams Fall Classic in October, the first-year claimed the individual title with a two-day total of 150, and the team placed fourth out of 15.

In the final competition of the fall, the Ann S. Batchelder Invitational, the team finished second behind Williams. Captain Sooji Choi ’14 notched fourth place with a two-day total of 158 — her season best. Gracie was a couple strokes behind her, shooting a 160 for sixth place, while Kristen Lee ’14 and Devyn Gardner ’16 both shot their season bests (165 and 166) for 12th and 14th, respectively.

In the spring, the Jeffs’ best performance came at the Jack Leaman Invitational, where they placed fourth thanks to a fourth place finish from Gracie (158), 10th from Choi (161), 18th from Lee (164) and 25th from Gardner.