Field Hockey Ekes Out Win
By Brenton Arnaboldi '14, Staff Writer
Seeking vengeance after last season’s home loss to Williams, the field hockey team ventured into enemy territory and came out conquerors, dominating the Ephs en route to a 1-0 shutout victory on a sunny but brisk Saturday afternoon. The Jeffs have won four straight games to improve their record to 5-2 (3-2 in NESCAC play), and have secured three shutout victories in that stretch.

Against Williams, the Jeffs used their dominant possession of the ball to control the game, channeling the adrenalized environment of the rivalry into focused intensity and execution on the field. “There was not a moment in that game where we lost our composure. In a game like Saturday’s where anything can happen, every member of our team showed an enormous amount of character and maturity,” tri-captain Liz Schnick ’11 said.

“The game was a really great opportunity for us to show that we can play our game, and control the things that are within our control, despite any rivalry or extraneous factors that come our way,” added tri-captain Carly Leahy ’11.

In the seventh minute of the first half, the Ephs appeared to come up on the short end of the stick when a shot from Katie McMahon ’13 got stuck in the opposing goalie’s foot blocker. The referees first awarded a penalty stroke, but the officials gave Amherst a penalty corner after consulting the rulebook for close to 10 minutes.

The incident proved irrelevant, however, as the Jeffs scored the game’s decisive goal just five minutes later on a penalty corner at the 11:18 mark. As the teams grappled for the set piece, Leahy picked up a loose ball in the offensive area and fired a shot past the Ephs’ defense for her third goal of the season. “It was definitely nice to walk off of the field at Williams for the last time having put one in the net for Amherst,” Leahy said. “I felt like I got to contribute in my own little way to the rivalry, for the school that has been so good to me.”

After conceding three goals in the team’s previous conference game against Conn. College, the Jeffs’ tenacious defense repeatedly frustrated Williams’ attacking thrusts, clogging up passing lanes and preventing the opponents from gaining time and space in the offensive zone. Goalkeeper Sarah Wise ’13 had to make only one save the entire afternoon, and the Jeffs allowed their archrival a measly two penalty corners.

“In addition to stepping up on the ball and tackling, we have been focusing on being patient, hunting in twos to channel forwards in order to come up with clean receptions and reduce fouls,” Leahy said.

“We have focused on discipline in the circle to prevent corners, quick feet on channeling to prevent hacking and communication to prevent confusion,” tri-captain Rachel Egan ‘11 said.

Williams’ best scoring chance came with 13 minutes remaining in the opening frame. Nicolle Perry’s shot beat a sprawling Wise, but the ball trickled just inches wide of the Amherst net post. In the second half, the Ephs were able to generate some offensive pressure, but struggled to find open looks at the net as Amherst continued to control the balance of play. The Jeffs outshot Williams 17-7 in Saturday’s game, including a 9-2 advantage after the first half.

“Our passing was unlike I have ever seen it and there was not much Williams could do when we had the ball,” Schnick said. “Our passing game was so crisp that we made them look like cones.”

“We know that if we are confident in our skills, trust each other and fight for a full 70 minutes, we are unbeatable,” Leahy added. “We dominated the game and had some beautiful passing patterns that allowed us to find space as we worked the ball around the field.”

Prior to their weekend game against Williams, the Jeffs beat Mount Holyoke 1-0 on Wednesday. While the Jeffs dominated the action from the onset, the Lyons nearly grabbed the lead with 3:30 remaining in the first half. Mount Holyoke’s Stephanie Slysz fired a shot past Wise after a penalty corner, but Amherst defender Stephanie Clegg ’12 cleared the ball off her own goal line to preserve the lead for the Jeffs.

Sarah McCarrick ’12 also made a key defensive save early in the second half, clearing the ball to end a dangerous Mount Holyoke opportunity.

“Our team got off to a slow start with Mount Holyoke. But as the game went on we woke up and began to play our game,” Egan pointed out. “We learned that we need to show up to every game ready to play our best.”

Amherst finally converted a scoring opportunity with 20:14 remaining in the second half. After corralling the rebound from junior Chrissy Cantore’s shot, McMahon lofted the ball into the far post to score the game’s only goal.

The Jeffs continued to sustain offensive pressure in the latter stages of the contest, but Mount Holyoke goalkeeper Katie Gibson made several spectacular saves to keep the game close. Amherst held a 22-8 advantage of shots and a 9-6 advantage in penalty corners.

The Jeffs will look to continue their four-game winning streak in a home game against Babson on Thursday. The team will then travel up to Middlebury for another crucial conference tilt.

Middlebury, 2-2 in NESCAC play, defeated a winless Colby team on the road 2-1 this past weekend. With the current league standings muddled by schools hovering around the .500 mark, the Jeffs are looking to distance themselves from teams in the middle of the pack.

“Both Babson and Middlebury are great teams. Our games with them have always been battles in the past and we don’t expect it to be any different,” Egan said.

Issue 05, Submitted 2010-10-06 04:05:00