Field Hockey Bounces Back In Style
By Brenton Arnaboldi '14, Staff Writer
Frustrated after a disappointing 4-1 loss at Middlebury last Saturday, the field hockey team has mercilessly crushed weaker opponents over the past weekend, beating Westfield State, Colby and Smith by scores of 9-0, 5-0, 9-0 respectively. The recent winning streak brings the team’s overall record to 9-3 (4-3 in the NESCAC), and has restored the team’s confidence before a pivotal encounter against Wesleyan this weekend.

In last weekend’s league tilt against Middlebury, the Amherst defense was singlehandedly dismantled by Panthers forward and NESCAC Player of the Week Lauren Greer, who scored a natural hat trick in the span of 24:22 early in the second half to send the Jeffs to their only loss in the past nine games. Greer also added an assist on the first Middlebury goal.

The first half featured relatively few scoring chances, but Middlebury still managed to sneak into halftime with a 1-0 lead. After carrying the ball into the offensive zone, Greer provided a nifty pass across the slot to set up the opening goal in the 29th minute.

Less than three minutes into the second frame, Greer scored a breakaway goal to double the hosts’ lead, and later tallied two rebound goals in the 52nd and 63rd minutes to extend the lead to 4-0. In the waning minutes of regulation, Amherst salvaged a late consolation goal when Katie McMahon ’13 deflected in a hard shot from Carly Dudzik ’12. The Jeffs outshot the Panthers 12-7 for the game, but Middlebury goalkeeper Becca Shaw frustrated the visitors with 11 saves while the Panthers capitalized on their few scoring opportunities.

“The Middlebury game was tough, but we are already hungry to face them again in the postseason,” Leahy said.

After the loss, the Jeffs unleashed their fury on Westfield State on Wednesday, thrashing the Owls 9-0. Alex Philie ’14, McMahon and Dudzik each tallied two goals and two assists. Chrissy Cantore ’12 also scored twice and Liz Schink ’11 contributed a goal and two assists. The Jeffs blitzed Westfield with four goals in the first five minutes of play and added five more in the second half.

In Saturday’s contest against NESCAC minnows Colby, who entered the contest winless (0-7) in conference play, the Jeffs used another first half scoring burst to establish an insurmountable lead and eventually cruised to a 5-0 victory. Amherst initiated the scoring with 16:57 remaining in the first frame, when Schink punched in a loose rebound after Dudzik’s long range shot. Just four minutes later, Schink raced into the box from the right flank and slid a pass into the slot area for Philie’s one-timer goal, doubling the Amherst lead to 2-0.

With all the momentum in their favor, the Jeffs continued to press forward, overwhelming the Mules with waves of offensive pressure. Cantore scored a breakaway goal with 9:09 left in the first half to stretch the lead to 3-0. McMahon made it 4-0 after blasting a shot into the upper corner of the net with 5:48 remaining, and Krista Zsitvay ’14 concluded the scoring one minute before halftime.

“Westfield and Colby were great games for our team to work on sharp passing patterns. We had the time and space to make passes to our teammates’ sticks, and therefore were able to be more patient on ball and more dynamic off-ball,” Leahy said.

The Jeffs continued their hot streak against Smith College last night, torching the Pioneers defense en route to a 9-0 victory. McMahon led the offensive charge, scoring four goals and adding three assists in the blowout win. McMahon has been on an absolute tear in recent weeks, compiling 12 goals and 6 assists over the past five games. The Jeffs’ leading scorer has been one of the most prolific forwards in the NESCAC this season, ranking first in assists (11) and second in goals (16).

Schink, playing out of her usual forward position, delivered an inspiring performance as the team’s goalkeeper against Smith. Schink recorded five saves — including several close-range stops — to preserve the shutout in her first collegiate appearance in net.

The Jeffs will travel to Wesleyan this Saturday for a Little Three rivalry clash against the Cardinals. Amherst and Wesleyan are currently tied for fifth place in the conference at 4-3, so this weekend’s contest will have major ramifications on the final league standings.

Both teams remain a game behind Middlebury and Trinity in the race for home-field advantage in the NESCAC playoffs.

Amherst will conclude the regular season at home against Trinity (5-2 league record) on Friday, Oct. 29, so the upcoming schedule gives the Jeffs a chance to leapfrog some of the teams they are chasing.

“This year’s Wesleyan team is much improved, and Trinity is consistently one of the best teams in the NESCAC,” Leahy said. “With those two games, we are fighting for a home seed in the NESCAC tournament. Any chance to play at home on our turf and in front of our fans is huge for us.”

Issue 06, Submitted 2010-10-20 03:40:57