A Year in Review: Winter Sports
Issue   |   Fri, 05/23/2014 - 11:52
Photo courtesy of Rob Mattson

Women’s Basketball
After starting the season with a 14-game win streak, the women’s basketball team suffered its earliest NCAA tournament exit since 2008. The Jeffs went 26-4 this past year with their only losses coming at less-than-ideal timing. The first was against Tufts (63-56), which snapped their opening winning stretch, while the second was a 65-63 thriller at the hands of Williams.

In the postseason, the Jumbos crushed Amherst’s dream of notching a fifth-consecutive NESCAC title, though the Jeffs still received an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. After knocking off Springfield and Hartwick in the first two rounds, the Jeffs lost 74-71 in overtime to Ithaca in the Elite Eight.

As a young squad with no seniors, the team was led by first-year and NESCAC Rookie of the Year Ali Doswell and co-captains Megan Robertson ’15 and Cheyenne Pritchard ’16. Sophomore Marley Giddins had a breakout season, averaging 11.4 points and 21.4 minutes per game while improving upon her 2.6 points and 9.2 minutes per game averages from last season. Giddins hopes to maintain her newfound position in the starting lineup next season.

Men’s Basketball
The fourth-ranked men’s basketball team’s quest for back-to-back national titles fell just short this winter, as archrival Williams routed the Jeffs 98-69 in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament. The Ephs held National Player of the Year Aaron Toomey ’14 to a mere three points, but this performance did not detract from the senior’s stellar year and career.

Toomey averaged 19.9 points per game, third best in the conference, while he and Tom Killian ’14 (15.1 PPG) led the Jeffs to a 27-4 record this season. In the NESCAC finals, Toomey recorded a triple-double, while Killian scored a career-high 31 points to notch the team’s third straight conference title.

In November, the team also won the Ken Wright ’52 Memorial Invitational Tournament with wins over Newbury and Nichols. Notably, head coach David Hixon also earned his 700th career win in December.

Sophomore Connor Green ’16 was a major contributor to the Jeffs’ success, averaging 17.9 points per game with 17 blocks on the season. Green and fellow sophomore Ben Pollack will look to step into leadership roles next winter with Toomey, Killian and David Kalema ’14 graduating from the starting five.

Men’s Ice Hockey
The men’s hockey team’s season ended in heartbreak this past winter, losing a 3-2 double overtime thriller to Bowdoin in the NESCAC finals. Amherst went 12-4-2 in the conference, marked by two wins over Williams and two over 11th-ranked Trinity, and the second-seeded Jeffs advanced to the championship for just the third time in 13 years.

In the NESCAC semifinals against the Ephs, senior captain Andrew Kurlandski netted two goals, including the game-winner, to lead the Jeffs to a 3-1 victory. Kurlandski ends his career with a total of 38 goals and 32 assists. Fellow senior captain Brian Safstrom also had a stellar final season, wrapping up his college career with 33 goals and 31 assists.

Sophomores Dave Cunningham and Conor Brown also made significant contributions for the team with Cunningham protecting the net and Brown creating scoring opportunities. Notably, Cunningham was second in the conference for lowest goals against average with 1.94 and third in the conference for save percentage (.929) — a huge component in helping Coach Jack Arena ’83 earn his 400th win this past winter.

Though they will be losing Kurlandski, Safstrom, Elliot Bostrom and Ryan Edwards, the Jeffs have a talented rising senior class to fill their shoes.

Women’s Ice Hockey
The women’s hockey team had their season end in disappointment this season, falling 3-2 to seventh-seeded Colby in the NESCAC quarterfinals. The Mules got off to a fast start, leading 2-0, before Amherst responded with goals from Erin Martin ’16 and Tori Salmon ’15 to tie things up at two. However, Colby would score the final goal with just over a minute remaining, sending the Jeffs home.

Amherst finished its season 13-7-5, featuring a 6-2 win over Williams and a 3-1 win over Trinity. Salmon led the offense, finishing with 16 goals — fourth best in the conference — while Erin Martin had 10 goals and 10 assists on the season. Junior forwards Emily Flom and Madeline Tank also had significant offensive contributions for the Jeffs, both with six goals apiece and a combined 11 assists. Notably, Flom scored the game-winning goal for Amherst in their game against Bowdoin at the end of the season.

The team will be saying goodbye to goalkeeper Kerri Stuart, who was third in the conference for lowest goals against average (1.96), but first-year Yuna Evans is ready to assume the starting position after playing in eight games this year and recording 134 saves on a .957 save percentage.

Indoor Track and Field
For the first time in program history, the women’s indoor track & field team were ECAC Champions this past season, finishing first out of 62 teams. Karen Blake ’17 and Naomi Bates ’14 led the Jeffs, finishing third and fourth in the 60 meter dash, respectively. Bates also placed first in the long jump, setting an ECAC record that had previously been set in 1985.

Earlier in the season at the NEICAAA Championships, Bates set the program record in the long jump as well as in the 60-meter dash. The senior followed these performances by claiming the national title in long jump at the NCAA Div. III Championships — just the sixth individual national title in program history. At NCAA’s, Bates also placed third in the 60 meter and sixth in the 200 meter.

With Bates graduating, both Blake and first-year Kiana Herold hope to build off of their impressive debut seasons next year.

Led by senior captain Matt Melton, the men’s indoor track & field team got off to a fast start with a second place finish at the Tufts Invitational and a fourth place finish at the Springfield Invite.

The Jeffs followed these performances by earning sixth at the NE Div. III Championships, where Melton won the 400 meter dash and the team of Jeff Seelaus, Alex Durkee ’15, Kevin Connors ’17 and KC Fussell ’15 won the 4,000 meter distance medley. Sophomore Dan Crowley continued his success from the cross country season, finishing runner-up in the 3000-meter run at the ECAC Championships.

To end their season, the Jeffs competed in two events at the NCAA Div. III Championships with Melton placing 12th in the 400 meter, and the senior then teamed up with Romey Sklar ’15, Brent Harrison ’16 and Greg Turissini ’15 for ninth place in the distance medley relay.

The women’s squash team finished their season as Walker Cup Champions this past winter to cap off an 11-9 season. In the Division ‘C’ finals, the Jeffs topped Franklin & Marshall 6-3 for the second time of the season.

Just the day before, Amherst edged NESCAC foe Bowdoin 5-4 in the semifinals thanks to first-year Tiana Palmer Poroner who came back to win the deciding match after being down two games to none. Senior captain Lena Rice and sophomores Khushy Aggarwal, Corri Johnson and Taryn Clary all recorded wins on the day in the sixth through ninth spots to help secure the victory.

The bottom of the lineup proved to be extremely reliable for the Jeffs, as Clary and Rice both ended their seasons with winning records. Against Middlebury earlier in the season, Rice recorded the only win for the Jeffs, while Clary had the only W against Williams at the Little Three Championships. Clary and Rice along with Meyha Sud ’16 and Palmer-Poroner notched the team’s four wins in their 5-4 loss against Hamilton in the NESCAC Championships, where Amherst finished sixth.

The 22nd-ranked men’s squash team had its ups and downs this past season, as the team went 7-12. Noah Browne ’16 once again led the Jeffs, playing in the No. 1 spot for his second straight season.

On numerous occasions, the sophomore recorded the only win for Amherst, including victories over Yale’s Kah Wah Cheong and Franklin & Marshall’s nationally-ranked Abhishek Pradhan — both five set matches. Browne competed at the Div. III Invitational, where he advanced to the tournament finals before falling to Taylor Foehl of Williams. He also qualified to play at the CSA Individual Championship, and though he lost to Ramit Tandon of Columbia in the first round, his accomplishments this past season earned him All-NESCAC First Team Honors.

Perhaps the biggest win of the season for the Jeffs came in the Pioneer Valley Invitational when they upset George Washington 5-4 thanks to wins from Browne, Max Kardon ’15, Jeremy Van ’17, Darian Ehsani ’17 and Stephen Cacouris ’16. Graduating just senior captain David Kerr from the lineup, the relatively young Amherst squad looks to bounce back next season under the captainship of Scott DeSantis ’15 and Alex Southmayd ’15.

Swimming and Diving
The men’s swimming and diving team went 6-1 in dual-meet competition this past season — its only setback coming from MIT. After out-swimming Union, Colby, Wesleyan and Middlebury, the team’s success culminated in a thrilling 127-115 victory over Williams. In the final event of the meet, Conor Deveney ’15, Tyler Hampton ’15, Tyler Bulakul ’14 and Connor Sholtis ’15 out-tapped the Williams’ team by 1.53 seconds in the 400 free relay to claim the win.

However, the Ephs edged Amherst in the NESCAC championships, giving the Jeffs their fourth straight runner-up finish. Bulakul and Sholtis also went on to qualify for the NCAA Div. III championships, where Bulakul placed fifth in 100 fly and sixth in the 200 fly, and Sholtis placed 13th in the 100 free and seventh in the 200 free. Jeff Anderson ’16 also competed in the 200 fly, finishing eighth, and captain Parker Moody ’14 placed 14th in the 500 free. Diver Colin White ’14 ended his career on a high note, capturing the 2014 NESCAC title in the 1-meter.

Returning to the pool as defending NESCAC Champions, the women’s swimming and diving failed to repeat their title this season, placing second behind Williams for the fifth time in six years.

Sophomore sensation Emily Hyde followed up her impressive first-year campaign by bringing home the national title in the 200 yard IM at the NCAA Championships. Hyde also placed tenth in the 100-yard backstroke and earned All-Conference honors in a league-high six events. At the NESCAC Championships, Hyde placed first in the 200-yard IM, 100-yard breaststroke, and 200-yard breaststroke. She also teamed up with Sabrina Lee ’15, Sarah Conklin ’16 and Lulu Belak ‘14 for another first place finish in the 400-yard Medley Relay. The relay squad also placed fifth at NCAA’s.

Diver Lizzy Linsmayer ’14 was named All-Conference in the 1-meter and 3-meter dive, and the senior placed third at NCAA’s to wrap up her college career.