Amherst Upsets Top-Ranked Defending Champs, 2-0
Sophomore Emily Vitale made six saves to earn the impressive shutout.
AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College field hockey team scored a pair of second-half goals and put in an impressive team effort to upset top-ranked two-time defending national champion Bowdoin College Saturday afternoon at Gooding Field. The Lord Jeffs get off to a 1-0 start (1-0 NESCAC) in the 2009 season, while Bowdoin begins its year at 0-1 (0-1 NESCAC).
Sophomore Carly Dudzik (Darien, CT) scored eight minutes into the second half and junior Liz Schink (Chicago, IL) added a second goal less than 11 minutes later, while reigning NESCAC Rookie of the Year Emily Vitale (Cheshire, CT) played an exceptional game in the cage to earn the shutout. Sophomores Sarah McCarrick (New Canaan, CT) and Casey Silver (Wheelright, MA) each had an assist.
Bowdoin had won six consecutive games against Amherst dating back to 2003 and entered Saturday’s game with 18 consecutive road victories, but both streaks came to a halt. The Polar Bears lead the overall series, 12-11.
Vitale made six saves—five in the first half—to earn the win, while Bowdoin’s Emily Neilson (Chatham, PA) made three stops in the losing effort. Senior tri-captain Tierney Healey (Moreland Hills, OH) and McCarrick each had a defensive save for Amherst.
The visitors out-shot Amherst 8-1 in the opening half and had four penalty corners, but Vitale and the Lord Jeff defense could not break. The second half was a much different story as the hosts took four shots and had five penalty corners compared to only three of each for Bowdoin.
Bowdoin looked sharp and created several scoring chances in the first half. Just five minutes into the game Shavonne Lord (Shrewsbury, MA) stole the ball from an Amherst defender and quickly sent a shot toward Vitale, but her effort went just wide.
Sixteen minutes into the first half Elizabeth Clegg (Hudson, OH) found Katie Herter (Topsfield, MA) in the circle, but her shot was saved by the Amherst goalie. Vitale came up with a diving stop just moments later to deny McKenna Teague (Cohasset, MA) at the doorstep.
The Polar Bears continued to push late in the half and nearly scored the game’s first goal with only three minutes on the clock, but Healey came up with a timely defensive save after Vitale had been pulled out of position.
Amherst came out of the gate firing in the second half and received a boost from first-year Katie McMahon, who sprinted 40 yards to pick up a loose ball in the Bowdoin end, which led to a penalty corner. McMahon sent a pass from the corner to McCarrick, who found Dudzik alone with a clear view of the goal. Dudzik ripped a shot from just inside the circle and beat Neilson to give Amherst a 1-0 lead.
McMahon helped to set up the second goal just 10 minutes later, this time finding Silver on the penalty corner. Silver sent a pass to Schink, who gave the Jeffs a 2-0 lead with 16:34 to play. Bowdoin put together promising runs late in the game but could not get on the board, as Amherst held on for the program’s biggest win in recent history.
Amherst will host Smith College Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m., while Bowdoin will travel to take on Wellesley Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.