Amherst Women's Soccer Continues Dominance
Issue   |   Wed, 09/24/2014 - 01:29

The Amherst women’s soccer team (5-1-1) capped off an impressive week with a pair of wins in their weekend double header. On Wednesday, the Jeffs topped undefeated Springfield College (3-1-1) for a 1-0 road victory. First-year and third leading scorer in the NESCAC Hannah Guzzi proved her dominance in the front field yet again. After a scoreless first half, Amherst ended the drought in the 69th minute on a Guzzi goal. Megan Kim ’16 recorded the assist.

“They are always a really fast and physical team,” said co-captain Mel Stier ’15. “We struggled in the first half, but our subs really picked up the energy in the second half and we completely dominated. They are always the top in their conference and get an NCAA bid, so a win against them is great for us.”

Springfield tried to rally with a shot fired from inside the box, but goalkeeper Holly Burwick ’16 denied the attempt. Burwick boasts the highest save percentage in the NESCAC at .966. The shutout against Springfield was nothing more than what’s becoming a routine performance for Burwick. She compiled three saves in her third shutout performance on the year.

Amherst opened the weekend series with a home matchup against NESCAC archrival, the no. 7 ranked Williams (4-1-0) this past Saturday. Amherst grabbed the momentum early on, jumping out to a quick 1-0 lead just two minutes into the game. Stier, who leads the team in assists, maneuvered around pressure to knock a cross to Guzzi. Guzzi smoothly collected the pass and booted it into the back of the net.

“We came out flying the first half and Williams really didn’t know what hit them. We had a game plan going in, and as a team we were really successful in executing it. I think this game was the first game we completely earned, and we finally started to figure out what works well for us. It’s the first time that our team has beaten Williams since my freshman year, so the victory felt great,” said Burwick.

Williams amped up the pressure, testing Burwick in goal. She would eventually post 10 saves en route to another shutout. In the first half alone, Burwick amassed seven saves.

The Jeffs continued to deliver a strong first half performance against the Ephs. The second goal played out very similarly to the first. This time, however, a Stier cross was just off the mark for Guzzi to rein in. Instead, Amherst sophomore Emily Hester corralled the ball and was able to put the ball between the posts for another Amherst goal, also the first of her Amherst career.

“I’d say beating Williams was a total team effort,” Hester said. “Every member of our team had a job to do, and we all did them. Everyone bought into their individual role, and we used the support of our teammates to pick us up when we needed more energy or started to stray from our roles. It definitely helped that we scored early, and came out strong, but it was a total team effort for a full 90 minutes.”

Amherst closed out the weekend doubleheader, conquering Lasell (4-3-0) in a 1-0 victory. Emily Masten ’17 would contribute the only score for the Jeffs at 31:26 on a corner kick from junior defender Jessy Hale. Senior co-captain Alex Hart found the ball and sent it into the box, where Masten was able to strike the ball into the left side of the goal.

“Lasell ended our season two years ago, so the juniors and seniors were especially motivated to get some revenge,” Stier said. “They are a really fast team and had a couple of good chances, but I think we really worked hard in the second half to keep the ball, and the result showed. It definitely wasn’t our prettiest game thus far, but we got the job done.”

A stellar performance from the Jeffs’ defense allowed the Lasell offense to deliver only two shots on target. With the help of her unstoppable backfield, Burwick only needed to make two saves to secure the shutout victory.

Amherst returns to conference action on Saturday, Sept. 27, as they travel to faceoff against Tufts University, who is undefeated in conference play.

On Sunday, Sept. 28, they will host Bates College at home on Hitchcock Field. Coming off of three big wins, the Jeffs are equipped and excited to keep the winning streak alive.

“This weekend was the first time we caught a glimpse of what we’re capable of,” Burwick said. “If we can play 90 minutes like we played the first five minutes of the Williams game, I have no doubt that we can beat any team in the country.”

“Last week we really emphasized playing to feet in practice and it translated into better possession in our games. I thought we worked the ball around pretty well, particularly the 2nd half of Springfield, in fits and starts against Williams, and for the better part of Lasell. Possession doesn’t always translate into shots or ultimately results though. In fact, Springfield and Williams both outshot us and we just snuck by Lasell even though we outshot them pretty significantly. So, now we need to shift our focus from simply possessing to possessing with a purpose. That purpose is to put the ball in the back of the net. We have a tough weekend ahead of us - Tufts on Saturday and Bates on Sunday - so it will be a good test. We’re starting to play with confidence though, so I’m excited for what lies ahead,” Burwick added.