Men’s Soccer Sweeps on the Weekend, Remains Undefeated on the Season
Issue   |   Wed, 09/23/2015 - 01:00

Five games into the 2015 season, the men’s soccer team has impressed both offensively and defensively. After three victories this past week, the Jeffs are riding a five-game winning streak to open the season, standing at 5-0-0 overall and 2-0-0 in the NESCAC.

While Amherst needed a dramatic, come-from-behind victory to beat the Western New England Golden Bears in 2014, this time the Jeffs were in control the whole way in a road game last Wednesday.

With a little less than 20 minutes remaining in the first half, senior striker Greg Singer headed a ball into the box that forward Chris Martin ’17 volleyed into the net to put the Jeffs ahead 1-0.

Shortly thereafter, Amherst doubled its lead, when a powerful free kick from goalie Thomas Bull ’16 put senior forward Nico Pascual-Leone in position to score his first goal of the 2015 campaign, with Bull receiving credit for the assist on the goal.

At the halftime break, the Jeffs held a 2-0 lead, as well a 10-1 shot advantage over the Golden Bears.

Trailing in the second half, the Golden Bears stepped up their offensive efforts, ultimately outshooting the Jeffs 5-3 after halftime.

Early into the second half, Martin narrowly missed a shot attempt that would have been his second score of the day.

About 10 minutes into the second period of play, Bull saved sophomore forward Troy Remillard’s shot attempt, which was the Golden Bears’ first shot on goal.

Midway through the second half, Troy Remillard was just wide on an attempt to put the Golden Bears on the board. A few minutes later, a Western New England free kick went off the crossbar, but the Golden Bears were unable to convert on the scoring opportunity.

Ultimately, the Jeffs were able to hold the Golden Bears scoreless and preserved their 2-0 lead until the final whistle.

This past Saturday, the Jeffs welcomed the Middlebury Panthers to Hitchcock Field for a highly anticipated regular season matchup that could serve as a preview of a 2015 postseason meeting in the NESCAC tournament or in the NCAA tournament.

While the Panthers entered play with a 3-0 record, including a whopping 10-0 victory in their last game, the Jeffs managed to contain the Panthers throughout the entirety of the game.

Extremely early into the match, less than a minute in, Martin found the back of the net again for Amherst, this time scoring his fifth goal of the year off assists from junior midfielder Andrew Orozco and junior forward Jackson Lehnhart.

A one-goal cushion over the Panthers did not deter the purple and white from continuing to attack. The Jeffs had mustered six shots over the first 10 minutes and seven shots by the 16:09 mark in the first half. It was not until the 25-minute mark before the Panthers attempted their first shot, but Bull was there to make the save on an attempt by Panthers junior forward Greg Conrad, the reigning NESCAC Player of the Year.

Over the final stretch of the first period, the Jeffs had three more shots and Conrad had another scoring opportunity, but neither side was able to convert on these chances towards the end of the first half.

In the second period of play, the offensive attacks of the two sides were more balanced, as each team attempted eight shots.
While the Panthers increased their offensive pressure in the second half, the Jeffs managed to keep their opponent off the board, just as they had done in the previous three contests of the season.

Although they allowed a goal within the first minute, the Panthers’ defense was strong, as Amherst was unable to add to its lead over the remainder of the game and ended up winning 1-0 on Hitchcock Field.

The following day, the Jeffs cruised to a fairly easy victory on the road against Elms. In the first half, two players scored for the Jeffs: Pascual-Leone (his second goal of the season) and sophomore forward Aziz Khan (scoring his first goal of the season off junior defenseman Cameron Bean’s first assist of 2015). Additionally, between these scores in the first half, Amherst benefited from an own goal as well, giving the Jeffs a 3-0 lead heading into halftime.

Less than 10 minutes into the second, Martin put one into the back of the net on a chipped shot over Elms goalkeeper for his team-leading sixth goal of the season, with Singer assisting Martin on the play for his second assist of 2015.

Martin’s goal would be the final score of the day, as the Jeffs held on for a 4-0 lead against Elms, while managing to outshoot them 19-10.

Already, the Jeffs are outscoring their opponents 12-0 through 2015’s first five games, and are showing signs of being capable of (once again) making a deep postseason run.

Thus far, Martin leads the NESCAC with six goals on the season. With an assist to go along with his six scores, Martin is also second in the conference in points (at 13), only trailing Bates’ senior midfielder Luis Pereira, who has five goals and four assists (good for 14 points) in 2015.

The 2015 season has not, however, been a one-man effort for Amherst in 2015 — a number of players have made significant contributions thus far into the season.

Perhaps more impressively, the Jeffs have attained this considerable success without an entirely healthy roster: Some of the team’s key players have been unable to play due to various injuries.

These setbacks have not stopped Amherst, which has a particularly deep roster, and many players have helped fill the voids left by injured players.

“The most encouraging thing so far [this season] is how many guys have contributed,” said coach Justin Serpone. “Almost everyone on the team has played significant minutes. Injuries are part of competitive sports, unfortunately, so it’s important to build a roster that can withstand players missing games. I have so much confidence in every player that wears an Amherst uniform, and they are all here for a reason and fill a specific role.”

Up next, the Jeffs head to Williamstown on Saturday for a must-see match at 1 p.m. against the rival Ephs, who enter play against the Jeffs with a 3-2-0 record and a 2-1-0 record in the NESCAC.

While the Jeffs topped the Ephs 4-1 in the team’s home opener in 2014 (when Pascual-Leone scored twice and both Martin and Orozco added goals), the pair of NESCAC rivals have played some extremely competitive and historic matches in recent years. These matchups include the 2012 NESCAC championship (a 2-0 win for the Jeffs), the 2013 NESCAC championship (a 1-0 victory for the purple and white), the 2012 NCAA quarterfinals (in which Williams advanced to the national semifinals on penalty kicks over the Jeffs), the 2013 NCAA quarterfinals (a 1-0 victory for Williams), as well as a 2012 regular season matchup that ended in a draw and a 1-0 double-overtime victory for Amherst in the 2013 regular season.

“Everything goes out the window when we are talking about Amherst-Williams,” Serpone said. “If both programs were 0-5, it would still be the most anticipated game on the Division III calendar this weekend. Luckily, both teams are very good and both coming into the game with a lot of momentum. I’d expect a classic, as always.”