Strength, Depth at all Positions Make Amherst Prime Contender in 2008

Senior Alyssa Dudzik returns to control Amherst in the midfield after earning All-America recognition in each of the past two seasons.  

2007 Season Recap
Each of Amherst’s first 13 games last year resulted in either a win or a one-goal loss, as the Lord Jeffs headed into the regular season finale at Williams with an 8-5 record. A 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Ephs landed Amherst with the fifth seed in the NESCAC Championship, where the Jeffs were once again paired up with their archrivals in the opening round. Unlike the 2006 season, which saw Amherst upset Williams in the quarterfinal round of the tournament, the Jeffs came out on the losing end to close out the 2007 season with an 8-7 record.

In a regular season that saw Amherst outscore its opponents 34-16, losing close games was an unfortunate theme for the Lord Jeffs. Sandwiched in between one-goal losses to Bates, Springfield, Middlebury and Colby was the most thrilling contest of the year: a showdown with eventual national champion Bowdoin College. The Polar Bears entered the game having outscored opponents 26-0, but the Lord Jeffs’ stingy defense preserved a 0-0 tie through more than 90 minutes of action before finally allowing a goal in double overtime. Amherst put together a two-game winning streak on three occasions, but tough losses throughout the year prevented the Jeffs from getting the wheels in full motion. One particularly impressive victory came at Tufts, where the Jeffs jumped out to a 2-0 lead and, despite earning only one corner attempt compared to Tufts’ 22, were able to preserve the win with a stellar second-half defensive effort against a very talented conference opponent.

Amherst loses five players to graduation in Kathleen Boucher, Lauren Benson, Carolyn Shea, Sarah Tracy and Christa Porcaro. A three-year starting goalie, Boucher saw her goals-against average decrease every season and finished last year allowing just 1.37 goals per contest, the fourth best mark in the conference. A two-time NESCAC Fall All-Academic Team member, Boucher earned a conference Player of the Week nod last September for making 20 saves and allowing just two goals during a 1-1 week for the Jeffs, marking the first time since 2003 an Amherst player had been awarded the honor.

Joining Boucher as senior captains last year were Lauren Benson and Christa Porcaro. Benson was an emotional leader for the Jeffs as a tri-sport athlete, two-time NESCAC Fall All-Academic Team selection, and president of Amherst’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. On the field, Benson totaled three defensive saves, two goals and a pair of assists in her four years. Porcaro was a consistent threat on offense in her last three seasons, racking up nine goals and 15 assists for 33 career points. After recording nine points in each of her sophomore and junior campaigns, Porcaro’s senior year brought career highs in both goals and assists, as her seven helpers led Amherst and were good enough for sixth best in the NESCAC.

Rounding out the Class of 2007 were Shea and Tracy, who each started in all 15 of Amherst’s games last year. Despite totaling just four points in her career, Tracy (a two-time NESCAC Fall All-Academic Team honoree) was effective in helping the Jeffs control the midfield and last year was one of seven Amherst players to record multiple assists on the season. In her three years with Amherst, Shea accumulated 10 points on four goals and two assists in the midfield, adding three defensive saves and a game-winning goal along the way.

Leading Amherst's defense will be senior Catherine Calvert, a 2007 All-New England First Team selection.

Returning Players
Highlighting this year’s senior class is two-time All-NESCAC First Team selection Alyssa Dudzik. As one of the best midfielders in the conference, Dudzik has also been recognized on the national level, earning NFHCA All-America Second Team honors last year after a Third Team selection in 2006. Seniors on defense will be three-year starter Louise Stevenson and four-year starter Catherine Calvert. After bursting onto the scene with six defensive saves in 2005, Calvert demonstrated her offensive skills last year by scoring four goals (including two game-winners) and adding four assists for 12 points, as she earned All-NESCAC Second Team and All-New England First Team selections. Looking to add to the offense as a forward will be Caki Guinee, while Jane Mostue hopes to fill the void left by Boucher in net. Mostue got valuable experience in 2006 and demonstrated her potential by recording three shutouts despite playing in only eight games.

Amherst features a very talented junior class comprised of Haley Douds, Molly Malloy and Tierney Healey. After scoring eight goals with three game-winners during her rookie season, Malloy followed up with four game-winners last year and the NESCAC’s second highest goals-per-game average (1.07), as she finished her sophomore season with 15 tallies and two helpers to earn an All-New England Second Team nod. Also earning All-Region Second Team honors last year was Healey, who led the conference with six defensive saves after recording five during her first year with the Jeffs. Joining Malloy on the attack is Douds, who finished with seven goals and three assists in 2007 for the NESCAC’s 16th highest points-per-game average (1.13).

After seeing limited playing time in 2007, the members of this year’s sophomore class should play a more significant role in 2008. Providing more depth to the midfield and on the attack will be Liz Schink, Carly Leahy and Julie Santosuosso. Returning to the team with the most experience is defender Rachel Egan, who started in nine games and played in 15 as a first-year.

Head coach Carol Knerr welcomes eight first-years to the team in forwards Chrissy Cantore, Rachel Lupien and Julia Viani, defenders Stephanie Clegg and Sarah McCarrick, midfielders Carly Dudzik and Casey Silver, and goalkeeper Emily Vitale.

Season Outlook
With exceptional talent and significant depth at each position, Amherst is in prime position to earn a third consecutive playoff berth. The Jeffs have demonstrated the ability to compete with the best teams in the nation, as evidenced by three consecutive one-goal losses to defending champion Bowdoin, two of which came in overtime. Ten of Amherst’s 15 losses in the past two years have come by just one goal, but this year’s squad has enough weapons to get over the hump and become one of the top teams in the NESCAC.