Men’s Soccer Downs Williams, Extends Undefeated Season
Issue   |   Tue, 09/29/2015 - 23:00
Mark Box
Greg Singer '16 was named NESCAC Player of the Week for his efforts

In the team’s first road NESCAC matchup of 2015, Amherst men’s soccer prevailed in dramatic fashion over archrival Williams, adding another classic game to an already exciting history between the two NESCAC powerhouses. With the victory, the fourth-ranked Jeffs extended their winning streak to six games to open up 2015, sporting a 6-0-0 overall record and a 3-0-0 NESCAC mark.

Both Amherst and Williams came out of the gates lacking offensive punch, but Amherst picked it up on the offensive end later in the first half, while the Ephs lagged. Ultimately, neither side was able to put one across the line in the first. In the second half, the Jeffs had more scoring opportunities than the Ephs, as Amherst bested Williams, 9-4, in shots and 3-1 in attempted shots on goal. While neither side scored during the first half, it was evident that both teams had the ability to pull ahead following the halftime break. It was clear that the 2015 regular season match-up between the Jeffs and Ephs would follow a different story line than how the 2014 meeting between these teams unfolded — a match in which Amherst cruised to a 4-1 victory.

The Jeffs would continue the offensive momentum from the end of the first half into the opening minutes of the second half, as they had two legitimate scoring chances early in the second period. However, the momentum would swing to the Ephs shortly thereafter.

Even though the Jeffs had more offensive firepower than Williams towards the end of the first half and at the start of the second, it was the Ephs who struck first against the Jeffs. In the 50th minute of action, sophomore forward Mark Sisco-Tolomeo helped set up first-year defense man Sean Dory, who then took care of the rest, as Dory scored the first goal of his career to put the Ephs ahead, 1-0. This goal was particularly noteworthy because it marked the first time that the Jeffs had trailed all season and snapped an Amherst shutout streak that had spanned more than five games and slightly more than nine halves of play. Until Dory’s goal, the Jeffs had also not trailed in a regular season meeting against the Ephs since October 2011, when Amherst fell behind Williams, 2-0, before notching two goals to force overtime and ultimately mustering a double-overtime draw.

The Ephs’ early second-half goal by no means spelled the end for the Jeffs. They continued to attack aggressively and generate scoring opportunities. Off a corner kick from senior midfielder Milton Rico midway through the second half, senior striker Greg Singer put a dangerous shot on goal, but the Ephs keeper made a diving save to keep the ball from bending into the right corner of the net. Sophomore forward Aziz Khan also narrowly missed a close shot attempt about 10 minutes later.
With less than 13 minutes remaining, Amherst was finally on the board, as junior forward Chris Martin crossed the ball into the center of the box, at which point Singer took control and put one into the back of the net to tie the score, 1-1, and shift the momentum back in Amherst’s favor.

Over the final stretch of regulation, neither side put forth any legitimate scoring attempts, sending the game into overtime.
Both teams continued to fight in overtime and the two teams each had a shot in the first period of overtime and multiple shots during the second overtime.

With less than a minute left in the second overtime of Amherst’s first extra time game of 2015, the Jeffs prevailed in dramatic fashion thanks to Singer’s second goal of the match, which originated from a pair of assists by way of senior forward Nico Pascual-Leone and junior defense man Justin Aoyama. Aoyama sent a nice ball into the box from the left side of the pitch, Pascual-Leone then headed the ball towards Singer, and Singer volleyed the ball into the left-hand corner of the net. For his performance in the game against Williams, Singer was recognized as the NESCAC Player of the Week.
Overall, Coach Justin Serpone was pleased with the team’s effort in the match against a competitive Williams team.

“Obviously, getting a win against a rival is a good result,” Serpone said. “I didn’t think we played particularly well, but I do think our effort was outstanding. They are a hard-nosed team and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw them again later in the fall.”

Serpone said his team effectively rose to the occasion after falling behind for the first time this season. “We certainly don’t want to play from behind but we did a good job creating chances throughout the second half,” Serpone said. “I am pleased we were able to finish one.”

On Wednesday, Sept. 30, the Jeffs will play under the lights in a road game against Worcester Polytechnic Institue at 8 p.m. The Engineers are 8-1-1 and has outscored opponents 19-5 through its first 10 games in 2015. Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s lone blemish came in a double overtime 1-0 loss to Brandeis, a team ranked eighth nationally in the latest polls. Brandeis pulled ahead of the Engineers with a goal in the second overtime. While Worcester Polytechnic Institute is 3-1-1 in their last five games, four of their past games have gone into overtime, after the team’s first five matches were all decisive victories in regulation.

On Saturday, Oct. 3 at 2:30 p.m., the Jeffs will host Tufts, the defending national champions, after a dominant run in 2014. The Jumbos secured the national championship with a 4-2 victory over Wheaton College. While 2015 marks a new chapter for the Jumbos, the 12th-ranked team in the nation is once again poised for a deep run in postseason play. Thus far, the team is 5-1-1 overall and 3-0-1 in NESCAC play. Similar to Worcester Polytechnic Insitute, Tufts has only fallen to Brandeis this season.

Last season, Amherst and Tufts tied 1-1, in double overtime. Tufts scored about 25 minutes into play, but the Jeffs responded shortly thereafter with a goal from Rico.

On paper, this upcoming week appears to be the most difficult week of the Jeffs’ 2015 season, and perhaps one of the more challenging regular season weeks that a team could conceivably have at this juncture.
Even with the daunting week ahead, Serpone and his coaching staff are treating the upcoming game in the same manner that they would all other games.

“We haven’t even thought about Tufts yet. Right now we have our eyes on WPI Wednesday,” Serpone said. “They are one of the best teams in the region, if not the country. It’s going to take our entire team’s complete focus to hang with them on Wednesday night, and that is where all of our focus is.”