Men’s Soccer Ends Season after PK Loss in NCAAs
By Brenton Arnablodi '14, Managing Sports Editor

With a berth to the NCAA Quarterfinals on the line, the men’s soccer team battled Bowdoin through 110 minutes of desperate, high-pressure soccer last Saturday, Nov. 27.

The NESCAC rivals ended the overtime period deadlocked at 1-1, meaning that an unpredictable penalty kick shoot-out would determine the winner. After months of sweat and exhaustion, the Jeffs’ season now hinged around a luck-based “skills” competition.

Unfortunately, the soccer gods frowned on the Jeffs, as Amherst converted just one of four penalty attempts. Therefore, the Polar Bears won the match on PKs (3-1), as Bowdoin’s standout goalkeeper Dan Hicks stopped two penalty shots, ending Amherst’s long season in heartbreaking fashion.

The Jeffs concluded their season with a record of 13-2-4, while Bowdoin advanced to its first Final Four after defeating Middlebury the following day.

“We definitely had a successful season. 13-2-4 is a good record, and we ended our season unluckily in a penalty shootout against a Final Four Team,” goalkeeper and co-captain Lennard Kovacs ’12 said.

The Jeffs started sluggishly against the Polar Bears, and fell behind 1-0 in the 16th minute when Bowdoin’s Tim Prior headed an incoming bouncing ball from close range to give the hosts the early lead.

“We didn’t start the game very well, but we recovered and fought ourselves back into the game,” Kovacs said. “The effort was great and we also moved the ball very well.”

Bowdoin seemed poised to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the 60th minute, when the Polar Bears received a penalty shot after an Amherst handball inside the box. But Kovacs would rescue the Jeffs, smothering the attempt to keep the deficit at one goal.

Kovacs’ crucial save completely swung the momentum, as the reinvigorated Jeffs pushed forward for the equalizer. Amherst finally broke through in the 73rd minute, when Spencer Noon ’13 banged home a cross from Thebe Tsatsimpe ’11.

Both teams had excellent chances to win the game in the closing moments. James Mooney ’12 — who netted a hat trick against St. Lawrence the previous round — slipped past the Polar Bear defense, but his toe-shot rolled inches wide of the post in the 85th minute.

Bowdoin’s Alex Marecki nearly scored from close range in overtime, but the Amherst defense scrambled to block the shot.

“Overall, I think, we played very well. It was a great, evenly-matched soccer game, and could have gone either way,” Kovacs said.

The Jeffs will lose several important players to graduation, including all-NESCAC First Team center midfielder Ian Rothkopf, center midfielder Tsatsimpe, all-NESCAC Second Team wing defender Chris Skayne, center defender Mark Crane and forward Chris Linsmayer. The Class of 2011 compiled a 55-12-9 record over the past four seasons. Despite the expected losses, Kovacs believes that the team will bounce back and approach next season with the same intensity and talent.

“The seniors will be very hard to replace. They were all exceptional teammates and great soccer players,” Kovacs said. “We will miss them a lot next year, but I have no doubts that the returning players have the talent for another excellent season.”

Issue 10, Submitted 2010-12-01 05:20:02