Field Hockey Strikes Again
By Brenton Arnaboldi '14, Staff Writer
The field hockey team overwhelmed its competition this past week, using a high-powered offense to slice through opposing defenses en route to two consecutive blowout victories. The Jeffs crushed Springfield 4-0 on Wednesday and defeated NESCAC rival Connecticut College 6-3 on Saturday, improving the team’s record to 3-2 (2-2 NESCAC).

The Jeffs had not scored six goals in a game since last season’s victory over Westfield State on Oct. 14. Against NESCAC opponents, the Jeffs have not achieved this feat since a 7-2 thrashing of Connecticut College on Oct. 23, 2007 — a streak of 25 league games.

On Wednesday, the Jeffs dominated Springfield from the start and held a 42-3 advantage in shots for the game (23-2 margin in the first half). Despite the one-way traffic, Springfield goalkeeper Allison McCarthy stymied the Amherst attack for the first 28 minutes of the contest. Jeffs forward Chrissy Cantore ’12 finally broke the scoreless tie with an unassisted goal with 6:34 remaining in the first half, and Carly Leahy ’11 added a second tally less than one minute later.

The Jeffs sustained their offensive pressure in the second half, bombarding the Springfield net area with a steady barrage of shots. Tri-Captain and forward Liz Schnick ’11 scored two insurance goals early in the second half to extend the Jeffs’ lead to 4-0. Springfield’s beleaguered McCarthy ended the game with 27 saves, while Amherst goalkeeper Sarah Wise ’13 recorded three saves for the shutout.

“We worked hard [against Springfield] to create the opportunity for stick-to-stick passing, which is key to a successful offense,” tri-captain Rachel Egan ’11 said.

Fueled by a surge in confidence following Wednesday’s rout, the Jeffs got off to a bright start against Connecticut College, which had entered Saturday’s league tilt with an undefeated record. Amherst opened the scoring 11:20 into the contest, when forward Katie McMahon ’13, after luring Camels goalkeeper Aimee Rich out of her crease, slid a pass across the slot for junior Casey Silver’s tap-in goal.

The Jeffs doubled their lead with less than three minutes remaining in the half, as McMahon scored after a nice sequence of passes from a penalty corner. While Amherst led comfortably for most of the first half — holding Connecticut College to zero shots in the first frame — the Jeffs outlasted the Camels in a wild, back-and-forth second half in which the teams combined for seven goals.

The Camels scored all three of their goals off penalty corners, with the first tally coming 7:57 into the second half to close the deficit to 2-1. The Jeffs regained the two-goal cushion in the 47th minute when Schnick re-directed a hard shot from Carly Dudzik ’12 from the top of the circle, but the Camels rebounded in the 49th minute after capitalizing on another well-executed penalty corner to cut the gap to 3-2.

With the frenzied, topsy-turvy game taking a life of its own, Amherst responded immediately (54 seconds later, in the 50th minute) with a tap-in goal from Cantore to take a 4-2 lead. The Camels, however, refused to go away easily, and converted another penalty corner opportunity at the 56:24 mark, with less than 14 minutes remaining in regulation.

Some Amherst players attributed the defensive breakdowns in the second half to inadequate communication along the back line. “Our team is always working on communication and fast feet on defense,” Egan said. “In difficult games, however, communication is often the first thing to go, and, with no communication, defense is much less effective. So communication, especially in our defensive circle, is an area we could and should improve on.”

Holding precariously to a one-goal lead, the Jeffs continued to push forward in the final stages of the contest, refusing to retreat into a defensive shell. The Jeffs’ aggressive strategy paid dividends, as rookie Alex Philie and junior Sarah McCarrick added insurance goals in the 61st and 64th minutes to close out the 6-3 victory.

The victory over Connecticut College propels the Jeffs closer to the upper echelons of the NESCAC standings, as the team looks to clinch a high seeding for the year-ending conference tournament.

After a local tilt against Mount Holyoke on Wednesday, the Jeffs will battle against archrival Williams (2-2 overall record, 1-2 NESCAC) on Saturday. Amherst will be looking to exact revenge for last season’s bitter 2-0 home defeat. The Jeffs will certainly anticipate a decisive victory against a Williams team that lost to Connecticut College 2-0 earlier this year.

“We have great momentum moving forward to play Mount Holyoke and Williams after our two wins this past week,” Egan said. “We lost to Williams last year on our home field so we are looking to beat them badly this year.”

Issue 04, Submitted 2010-09-29 19:28:55