Women’s Soccer Prepares For Defense of NESCAC Championship Belt
Issue   |   Thu, 08/31/2017 - 22:39
Peter Connolly '18
Senior captain Hannah Guzzi hopes to close out an illustrious Amherst career, which has seen her notch 33 goals and nine assists, with a strong campaign.

Amherst women’s soccer will return to Hitchcock Field this season as the defending NESCAC champions.

The Mammoths had an impressive 2016 season, finishing with a 17-3-1 record and advancing to the third round of the NCAA Championship before falling to William Smith College.

Several stars emerged for the Amherst women in the course of the team’s run of dominance last season, with four Mammoths named to All-NESCAC teams.

Current seniors Hannah Guzzi and Delancey King were both named to the first team, while recent graduate Emily Hester ’17 and Caleigh Plaut ’19 garnered second team honors.

In addition to the all-conference nod, Guzzi racked up several other awards.

The three-year starting forward from Southborough, Mass., was also named a D3soccer.com Second Team All-American, a Second Team NSCAA Scholar All-American and an NSCAA Third Team All-American.

Guzzi will thus start her senior season in the Pioneer Valley as the centerpiece of a potentially lethal offense.

In addition to losing Hester, the Amherst women had to say goodbye to four other graduating seniors at the end of May.

While the Mammoths will undoubtedly miss both their talent and the leadership, Coach Jen Hughes has brought in five first years who are excited to put in the work to help the Amherst women surpass their impressive display from last season.

“We had a good run in 2016 and winning NESCACs was almost surreal, but I know we can go even further,” midfielder and co-captain Meredith Manley ’18 said. “Although we graduated … pretty important players, I’m confident we will be able to fill those holes and take this team all the way to the NCAA finals.”

The Mammoths well of returning talent is incredibly deep, with Guzzi and King leading the offense.

Manley is back in the midfield after being sidelined by a torn ACL last season. With impressive first-year and sophomore campaigns under her belt, Manley should prove to be a key asset for the Mammoths.

Junior Chelsea Cutler will play in net for Amherst once again this season. Last year, which was Cutler’s first as the Mammoths’ starting goalie, she finished with a 0.88 goals against average, good for fifth in the NESCAC. Cutler’s .838 save percentage, meanwhile, was third best in the conference.

Other notable returners include defender Megan Root ’19 and forwards Maeve McNamara ’19 and Sloan Askins ’20.

The Amherst women will open their season with an away game against the Lyons of Mount Holyoke College on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 7:00 p.m. Then, on Saturday, Sept. 9, seniors Guzzi, Manley, King and Alison Neveu will kick off their final season of NESCAC play in the Mammoths’ home-opener against Bowdoin on Hitchcock Field at 12:00 p.m.