Athletics

Amherst to Continue NCAA Championship Run at Tufts

AMHERST, MA – Fresh off a 3-0 win over Husson University, the Amherst College field hockey team will continue its run in the 2009 NCAA Championship this weekend at regional host Tufts University. The Lord Jeffs will take on Skidmore College Saturday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. in the tournament’s second round, with the winner advancing to play Sunday at 1 p.m.

Each of this weekend’s games at Tufts will feature a live webcast. Tickets for all three games will be available at the gate of Bello Field and will cost $5 for adults, $4 for students and $3 for senior citizens and children under 12. Sunday’s quarterfinal winner will advance to play in the national semifinals at Mount Holyoke College, with the final two rounds taking place Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 21-22.

The Lord Jeffs scored two goals in a span of 48 seconds to take a 2-0 lead into halftime on Wednesday, adding a third goal in the second half to mark its first NCAA Championship victory since the 1999 Amherst team advanced to the national title game. The last time the Jeffs advanced to the second round was in 2000, when they suffered a 2-0 loss to Cortland State after receiving a first-round bye.

This season has already proven to be one of the most successful in the program’s 34-year history. Prior to 2009, only four Amherst teams had won at least 12 games, and only three had qualified for an NCAA Championship. Another victory for the Lord Jeffs would match the 13 wins from the 2001 season, leaving only the 1999 (15-3) and 2000 (14-3) teams ahead of this year’s squad in the win column.

NCAA Logo

Thirteenth-ranked Amherst will be taking on a tough opponent in ninth-ranked Skidmore this Saturday, but the Lord Jeffs have posted a 3-2 record against nationally-ranked teams this year. The Thoroughbreds (16-3) earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship by winning a second-straight Liberty League title as the conference’s top seed. Skidmore posted a 7-8 record in its previous eight appearances in the national tournament, advancing to the semifinals in 2001. In the only meeting between the Jeffs and Thoroughbreds, Amherst earned a 4-3 victory in penalty strokes at Skidmore in the 1999 NCAA Championship quarterfinal round.

Skidmore is in the midst of an impressive nine-game winning streak, scoring at least four goals in six of those contests. The T-Breds are 1-1 against the NESCAC this season, having posted a 1-0 victory over Williams before falling to Middlebury, 3-1. The team features three of the Liberty League’s top four scorers, including Christine Kemp with 52 points on 18 goals and 16 assists, and Elise Britt with 21 goals and five assists for 47 points. Leading their league in scoring offense (3.95 gpg), scoring defense (1.16 gpg), shutouts (6) and penalty corners per game (14.21), the Thoroughbreds have outscored opponents by a 44-4 margin in the first half.

Fourth-ranked Tufts (16-1) will be taking on unranked MIT (18-4) in Saturday’s first game. The Jumbos suffered a heartbreaking 3-2 double-overtime loss to Bowdoin in last year’s national title game, but they returned to the national tournament with an automatic bid as champions of the NESCAC. Making its fifth NCAA Championship appearance, Tufts is a combined 35-3 (17-1 NESCAC) in the past two years. Amherst was handed a 2-0 loss at Tufts during the regular season and a 4-0 setback last year, but the Jeffs came out on top on the Jumbos’ home field in 2007, 2-1.

Tufts brings a six-game winning streak into this weekend, with five of those victories coming in shutout fashion. The Jumbos are coming off a 3-2 win over Trinity in the conference finals, a win that avenged a 2-1 overtime loss from the regular season and marked the team’s first-ever NESCAC crown. Featuring NESCAC Coach of the Year Tina McDavitt, Player of the Year Tamara Brown (21-10-52) and five All-Conference selections, Tufts leads the NESCAC in scoring offense (4.06 gpg), scoring defense (0.53 gpg), shutouts (10) and penalty corners per game (13.00).

MIT is making its first appearance in the NCAA Championship thanks to receiving an automatic bid for winning the NEWMAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed. The Engineers defeated Babson (3-0), Mount Holyoke (2-0) and five-time defending conference champion Springfield (4-2) in the tournament, increasing their winning streak to nine games with a 2-1 upset over host Nichols College Wednesday night in the opening round of the national tournament.

Boasting by far the best overall record in the NEWMAC, the 18-4 Engineers are 2-0 on neutral ground this year but have yet to face a NESCAC team. MIT’s offense is led by the trio of Kimberly Barker (20-4-44), Jessica Oleinik (13-3-29) and Anna Teruya (12-5-29), while Keri Dixon has posted a 1.38 goals-against average with seven shutouts as the team’s lone goalkeeper to see playing time this year. Amherst has never lost to the Engineers, outscoring them by a 25-2 margin in eight meetings.