Athletics

Jeffs Return Five of Top Six Point Leaders from 2010

SEASON OVERVIEW
Amherst was capable of beating any team in the NESCAC when it played its best in 2010, but inconsistency and struggles on the road left the Lord Jeffs with a 7-7 record. After falling into an early 5-0 hole at Trinity in the regular season finale, Amherst stormed back to beat the Bantams in overtime, giving the Jeffs the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. Amherst jumped out to an 8-2 lead over Middlebury in the quarterfinals, but the Panthers used a 7-0 run to prevent the Jeffs from advancing to the semifinal round for a fifth consecutive year.

Fox
Amherst returns five of its top six leaders in points from 2010.

A key to this year’s success will be finding consistency, which will come from captains, coaches and senior leaders. With only four seniors on the roster, however, Amherst will be one of the least experienced teams in the NESCAC. First-year head coach Jon Thompson notes that the team’s fundamental development will be crucial, which he hopes will come with a raised level of competitiveness during practices. The backbone of Amherst’s success will be an improvement in the areas of saves, clears and faceoffs, as the Jeffs featured the conference’s lowest percentage in all three categories in 2010. Amherst, which returns five of its top six leaders in points from a 2010 squad that ranked third in the NESCAC in goals per game (10.1), is in search of its first postseason win since 2005.

THE SCHEDULE
Amherst will open the 2011 season with four games in eight days, three of which will be played on the road. Coach Thompson is excited about the first push of the season, noting that it will provide the Lord Jeffs a chance to build camaraderie. The first test of the season will arguably be the toughest, as Amherst will travel to take on defending NESCAC and NCAA champion Tufts on Mar. 12. Riding a 10-game winning streak as the top-ranked team in Division III, the Jumbos return the conference’s 2010 Player of the Year in attackman DJ Hessler, as well as two All-NESCAC First Team midfielders.

Tufts (20-1 in 2010) will clearly be the team to beat in 2011, but three other NESCAC schools are ranked in the USILA Week 2 poll. Seventh-ranked Middlebury (13-6) advanced to last year’s NCAA quarterfinals, while 10th-ranked Connecticut College (14-3) returns all three of its All-Conference selections from a year ago and was the only team to defeat Tufts in 2010. Bowdoin is ranked 18th in the national poll after going 9-7 in 2010, while Colby (10-6), Trinity (9-7), Wesleyan (8-8), Williams (5-10) and Bates (4-9) will look to challenge the conference’s top teams in 2011.

Redwood

Evan Redwood '12 (above) and Gabe Mann '11
were selected as this year's co-captains.
Mann

After opening the season at Tufts, Amherst will travel to face Endicott (14-8) and Roger Williams (10-7) on Mar. 15 and 17, respectively. Also on the slate are Eastern Connecticut State (12-5), Wheaton (8-8) and Springfield (13-6), as Coach Thompson believes taking on such a challenging non-conference schedule will benefit the Lord Jeffs come late April. The Apr. 13 showdown with Springfield should be particularly entertaining, as the last four meetings between the two schools have all been one-goal games, including two that were decided in overtime.

THE TEAM
Midfielder Evan Redwood ’12 will lead the way as the team’s creator on offense and will serve as one of this year’s co-captains. In addition to being a gifted player, Redwood was one of the most improved throughout the offseason. He recorded 36 points as a sophomore on 20 goals and a team-leading 16 assists, recording at least one point in all 14 games and at least two points on 12 occasions. Also ranking second on the team in ground balls (47), Redwood was named to the All-NESCAC First Team and received USILA All-America Honorable Mention status.

Helping control the midfield will be Alex Fox ’12, who led Amherst in points last year (38) with 26 goals and 12 assists. Earning spots on the All-NESCAC and NEILA All-New England Second Teams, Fox notably recorded 10 points on seven goals and three assists against Eastern Connecticut State. Cole Cherney ’12 stands out among Amherst’s returning attackmen after scoring 15 goals as a sophomore. His most notable performance came at Trinity in the regular season finale, when he gave Amherst a 10-9 lead late in regulation before providing the game winner in overtime.

Midfielders Jeff Izzo ’13 and Dan Routh ’12 will hope to build on last year’s season that saw them combine for 19 goals and 22 assists, with Izzo picking up at least one assist in each of his final seven games. Will Reed ’12 and Matt Levine ’11 are the leading candidates to fill the role of short-stick defensive midfielder, with Reed scoring four goals and picking up 26 ground balls in 2010. Long-stick midfielder Danny Gold ’13 is emerging as a leader after playing significant time in 13 games as a first-year, recording 18 ground balls along the way.

After losing two defenders who started in all 14 games last year, senior co-captain Gabe Mann and classmate Parker Holcomb will need to step into leading roles. After working his way into the starting lineup as a sophomore, Mann picked up 15 ground balls as one of last year’s captains. Holcomb had 22 ground balls as a sophomore before breaking out with a team-leading 49 a year ago, also handling the majority of Amherst’s faceoffs in 2010.  Arne Andersen ’13 has proven that his dedication in the weight room in the fall has been surpassed only by his improvement on the field this spring, as he will likely play a significant role on defense this year.

Tufts
Amherst will open against the defending NCAA champs.

Coach Thompson stresses the importance of strong goalkeeping this year, as the Jeffs ranked last in the NESCAC in goals-against average (10.31) and save percentage (.500) in 2010. The starting role is up for grabs and will feature an exciting race among Sam Jakimo ’12, Steve Levy ’13 and Greg Majno ’14.

THE COACHING STAFF
The 2011 season will be the first at Amherst for Coach Thompson, who spent 2009 and 2010 at NESCAC rival Colby College. His stint at Colby featured the two most successful campaigns of the past eight years, as he guided the Mules to three wins over opponents ranked nationally in the top 10. Thompson also spent three years as an assistant coach at Brown University, where he helped the Bears transform from a 2-11 team to an 11-3 team that won the 2008 Ivy League Championship.

Evan Crosby joins the Amherst staff in 2011 after helping Tufts win the national championship as a player last spring. As a two-sport student-athlete for the Jumbos in lacrosse and ice hockey, Crosby started in all 21 of the lacrosse team’s games on defense, picking up 59 ground balls and recording three assists. Also joining the staff is Patrick Hart, who spent the past two springs coordinating the defense and recruiting as an assistant at Holy Cross. In 2010 he led the Crusader defense to the program’s second lowest goals-against average (9.7) since 1988, also helping the Crusaders increase their faceoff success rate from 30 percent (2009) to 44 percent (2010).