Club Soccer Falls to UMass, Tops Harvard to End Season
Issue   |   Fri, 10/20/2017 - 02:48

The Amherst College men’s club soccer team went 1-1 last week — falling short of taking down division-leader Umass A in a narrow 3-2 loss on Friday, Oct. 13 before dispatching Harvard B 4-1 on Sunday, Oct. 15 to end the regular season. Ending with a 7-2-1 record, the team, more commonly referred to as AFC (Amherst Football Club), just missed out on an at-large bid to the playoffs.

In perhaps the toughest competition of the regular season, Amherst came into the game with confidence and excitement, finding space early on and pressuring the UMass defense with speed from forwards Drew Kiley ’18 and Ian Fayorsey ’18. The initial mojo was interrupted, however, by a transition goal from the UMass left midfielder, who capitalized on a counterattack to open tge scoring. His one-time strike found some open real estate in the top right corner, sailing past Amherst goalie Tim Offei-Addo ’19.

The remainder of the half saw offensive attempts on both ends, particularly by the Amherst attack. A powerful header from Kiley went just wide of the net in 38th minute, and an outside-the-box penalty kick flew over the goal, not quite on the mark. When the whistle blew to end the first half, both teams had hustled and created chances but the frenetic pace hinted at what would evolve into a heated battle of pride.

Up 1-0, UMass fell into a good rhythm at the start of the second half, finding the back of the net in the 58th minute to make the score 2-0. The two-goal deficit seemed to wake up the Amherst attack, who answered with a goal of their own just minutes later. After a scrum in the box, Fayorsey pounced on the loose ball and placed it in the back of an empty net to set the score at 2-1. Heated by the closing gap in the score, an unnecessary nudge evolved into a multiple-player fight, all parties pushing and shoving around the initial offenders. The fight only lasted a few seconds, but the referees awarded a red card to the visitors.

Still feeling the pressure, UMass picked up its offensive presence and pushed back hard towards their competitor’s net. Within a matter of minutes, UMass had forced three impressive saves by Offei-Addo, and careful sweeping by senior center back Alex Frenett ’18 ruined several promising breakaways by UMass’ relentless attack. A monstrous strike from the UMass center back, a few feet outside of the box, finally made its way past the Amherst keeper to make the score 3-1.

The clock was reaching the 80th minute when Amherst turned up the heat again, charging UMass’ net with promising forward feeds and forcing the Minutemen to remain on the defensive. It wasn’t until Kiley, after some smart footwork, found Fayorsey open in the middle that Amherst was able to put the ball in the back of the net to make the competition a one-goal game. The last minutes of the game saw several scoring opportunities by both sides, but neither team was able to find the net one last time. Amherst had given them a close match, but UMass ultimately came out on top with the 3-2 score.

AFC saw a better outcome two nights later against Harvard B, defeating the Crimson 4-1.The purple-shirted men struggled to impose themselves on their opponents in the first half. Fayorsey scored off a corner kick, but Harvard pegged one back before halftime on a free kick. Controlling the midfield in the second half, Amherst searched for a goal to give them the edge. Harvard held firm until first-year Marco Sanchez deftly redirected a corner past the keeper. The goal opened the floodgates for Amherst. Ten minutes later, Fayorsey controlled fired a rocket into the sidenetting. Then, Kiley scored Amherst’s fourth on a solo effort.

Despite missing the playoffs, AFC’s impressive record makes this season one of the young program’s most successful ever.