Men's Soccer Returns to NESCAC Semi-Finals
Issue   |   Fri, 11/07/2014 - 00:32

After a disappointing stretch for the men’s soccer team, the Jeffs responded in convincing fashion by closing out the regular season with a victory and by advancing to the NESCAC Semifinals for the fifth straight season. The Jeffs now stand at 12-1-3 overall and 7-1-2 in the NESCAC.

In their victory over Trinity, the Jeffs received a variety of scoring contributions from different members of the squad. In the process, the Jeffs also matched their season best of four goals in a game.

Amherst struck first in the 16th minute as junior striker Nico Pascual-Leone collected the rebound, following a shot by senior defenseman Gab Wirz, sending it into the back of the net for his seventh goal of the year.

Shortly after Amherst got on the board, the Bantams responded with a goal of their own. Trinity forward Tim Shea carefully placed a shot to the right corner of the net to tie the score at 1-1.

In the 34th minute, Amherst scored another goal stemming from a rebound following a Wirz shot attempt. This time, forward Chris Martin ’17 scored by kicking it just under the cross bar to give the Jeffs a 2-1 lead
The Jeffs added another goal before halftime, as a cross from the left side by Martin set up sophomore midfielder Andrew Orozco, who then headed it into the net to give the Jeffs a 3-1 lead heading into the break.

About five minutes into the second half, the Jeffs would continue to ride their momentum from the first half of play. For the second consecutive time on the afternoon, the player who scored the previous Amherst goal would provide the assist on the next score. This time, Orozco hit forward Greg Singer ’16 with a pass at the top of the 18-yard box. Singer then struck a shot above the goalie’s reach to give the Jeffs a 4-1 lead.

Trailing by three goals, the resilient Bantams would not go away easily. About twenty minutes into the second period, the Bantams drew closer, as a header from sophomore midfielder Tobias Gimand on a pass from forward/midfielder found the left side of the net.

Towards the end of the game, the Bantams cut their deficit in half with another goal from Gimand, this shot going to the back right corner of the net. However, Gimand’s second goal of the afternoon and Trinity’s third goal of the day proved too little too late, as the Jeffs were able to hold the resilient Bantams for the 4-3 victory.

While Amherst’s four-goal effort tied for the most goals the team has scored in a match this season, the three goals allowed by the Amherst defense proved to be the most that the Jeffs have let up in a game this season as well. In fact, the last time the Jeffs allowed three goals in a match was in late October 2011 in a regular season game against Connecticut College.

With their regular season closed, the No. 2 seeded Jeffs Amherst hosted seventh seeded Colby this past Saturday in a NESCAC quarterfinal matchup.

After scoring the final goal of Amherst’s regular season, Singer continued his ways. Less than three minutes into the match against Colby, Singer received a pass from first-year forward Aziz Khan in the box and fired it into the net to give the Jeffs a 1-0 edge on Singer’s fifth score of the year.

In the first half, Amherst preserved the 1-0 lead and outshot Colby by an 18-2 margin.

Over the following 45 minutes after the halftime break, the Jeffs and Mules had a far more equal number of shot attempts, as the Jeffs outshot the Mules by a slim 4-3 mark in the second period. In the second half, both teams were held off the boards. During the game, the Jeffs managed to hold their 1-0 lead for more than 87 minutes to take the victory. With Amherst’s second victory over the Mules so far this season, the Jeffs advanced to the NESCAC Semifinals and eliminated Colby from contention in the NESCAC Tournament.

The strong efforts of goalkeeper Thomas Bull ’16 and the entire Amherst defensive unit enabled Amherst to come away with the team’s seventh shutout of 2014.

Following a fairly disappointing week for Amherst, Coach Justin Serpone was pleased with how his team responded. “In the past week, we won a game 4-3 [and] we won a game 1-0,” Coach Serpone said. “I think what this shows is that we have a team able to do both [and win both types of games]. We have been pretty resilient. I was happy with the last week and we are looking forward to the coming weekend for sure. We have a lot of guys who can make plays, which bodes well for the next couple of weeks.”

Up next, the Jeffs will face the Connecticut College Camels on Saturday, Nov. 8 at 1:30 p.m. While most expected that as the No. 2 seed, Amherst would be travelling to Tufts (the No. 1 seed in the tournament), the Jeffs will host the remainder of the tournament after Conn. College defeated Tufts. Playing in front of the home crowd has been a welcome occurrence for the 2014 squad, as the team currently sports a 6-0-0 record at home this season.

During the regular season, the Camels proved to be a tough opponent for the Jeffs. Amherst won the contest by a close 1-0 margin.

“Connecticut College is probably the best eighth seed in the history of NESCAC sports,” Coach Serpone said. “They are dangerous, they just beat a top 10 team in the country. They have played us well in the past. We are in for a very difficult game on Saturday.”

In the other NESCAC Semifinal matchup slated for Saturday, Middlebury (the No. 4 seed in the tournament) will take on Bowdoin (the No. 6 seed in the NESCAC) on Hitchcock Field.

“As far as the rest of the field, the final weekend is emblematic of how tight the league is and how competitive this league is 1-11,” Coach Serpone said. “The teams that are left are the two seed, the four seed, the six seed, and the eight seed, which is not surprising, because every team is good and every team is capable of beating every other team on any given day. It will be a fun weekend of soccer coming up.”