Surging Men’s Lacrosse Extends Winning Streak to Seven
By Brenton Arnaboldi '14, Managing Sports Editor
Fueled by explosive scoring production and top-notch goaltending, the men’s lacrosse team extended its winning streak to seven games with victories against Bowdoin, Wheaton and Bates over the past two weeks. The Jeffs’ current stretch of seven consecutive victories marks the program’s longest winning streak since 1987. After beginning the season unranked in the national poll, Amherst now sits at No. 12 in the country.

This year’s team (overall record 7-1, NESCAC 3-1) has already matched last season’s win total, as Amherst finished with a pedestrian 7-7 mark in 2010. The Jeffs have amassed 45 goals in their three past wins, and currently rank second in the NESCAC in scoring offense (12.5 goals per game).

“This year, we have a cohesive unit of 34 guys. We expect everyone to step into leadership roles, from seniors all the way down to freshmen. I have never heard a louder bench than ours, which is definitely a key to our success,” co-captain Gabe Mann ’11 said. “Additionally, our coaching staff is one of the best in the country — I have never seen a group work harder than it does,” Mann said.

The Jeffs traveled up to Bowdoin last weekend, pulling out a 13-10 victory for their fifth straight win. Attacker Devin Acton ’14 — named NESCAC co-Player of the Week for Mar. 22-28 — shredded the Polar Bears’ defense, scoring five goals and one assist in a dominating performance. Both defenses held strong in the first half, as the teams combined for just seven goals through 30 minutes; Amherst led 4-3 at the break. The Jeffs’ offense, however, erupted for five goals in the third quarter, however, giving the visitors a 9-5 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Jeffs widened the gap to 13-7 with five minutes remaining, before Bowdoin added a trio of garbage-time goals to close the scoring. Goalkeeper Sam Jakimo ’12 delivered a strong game in net, making 16 saves for the victory. The Amherst goalkeeper currently boasts the second-best save percentage in the conference (.621).

The Jeffs secured another impressive road win against Wheaton last Tuesday night, turning in a dominant first-half performance en route to a 17-9 victory. The Jeffs jumped out to a scintillating start, scoring four goals in the first 3:19 of play. Amherst finished the 15-minute first quarter with a commanding 8-2 lead, and held a 13-3 edge at halftime before relaxing the pressure in the second half.

After throttling Wheaton, the Jeffs defeated Bates 15-8 in a NESCAC home contest this past Saturday. Junior co-captain Evan Redwood set the tone offensively for the Jeffs, finishing with four goals and two assists. In similar fashion to the Wheaton game, the Jeffs overwhelmed the Bobcats in the opening moments. Amherst scored three times in the first five minutes, and led 4-0 with six minutes remaining in the first quarter. The Bobcats closed the deficit with three unanswered goals, but the Jeffs responded with a 3-0 run midway through the second quarter. Bates never closed the deficit within three goals for the rest of the contest.

The Jeffs blew the game open early in the fourth quarter, using a four-goal scoring outburst to take a 14-6 lead with seven minutes remaining in regulation. Despite being outshot by a 41-31 margin, the Jeffs emerged with the comfortable 15-8 victory. Jakimo had another stellar game between the pipes, finishing with 16 saves.

In their biggest game of the season to date, the No. 12 Jeffs will take on No. 7 Middlebury this afternoon at Gooding Field. Both teams enter the game with 3-1 NESCAC records, and the contest promises to be an exciting, feisty affair.The Jeffs have not defeated Middlebury since 1989, as the Panthers have won 25 consecutive meetings in the rivalry. One of the most devastating Amherst losses in that stretch came during the NESCAC playoffs last spring. In the first round of the conference tournament, the host Jeffs jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, but the Panthers mounted a huge comeback and stunned Amherst by a final score of 15-12.

While Amherst has not beaten the Panthers since 1989, the team’s current seven-game winning streak is the program’s longest since 1987. After matching this even older record (from 1987), breaking the Middlebury drought certainly seems within reach. In the midst of a potentially special season, the Jeffs seem poised to break away from the mediocrity of past years and write a new chapter in program history.

“We are a new team this year, and we can’t wait to play a tough Middlebury team on our home turf,” Mann said.

“Of course we want revenge,” Redwood said. “More than anything we are looking to continue to prove what our team, our new brand of Amherst lacrosse — disciplined, unrelenting, and intensive — can accomplish.”

Issue 21, Submitted 2011-04-09 01:04:12