Athletics

Follow Amherst's Action-Packed Weekend

AMHERST, MA – Several of Amherst’s winter teams cruised into 2010 but will be put to the test this weekend. While the basketball and swimming and diving teams will clash with archrival Williams (along with the men’s hockey team, which will also play Middlebury), the women’s hockey team will host ConnecticutCollege in a two-game series, with live coverage provided for each of the eight events. Here is a preview of this action-packed weekend, along with links to live statistics, audio and video.

Men's Hockey
Amherst has out-scored Williams by a 12-2 margin in the past two meetings.

MEN'S HOCKEY
Live Coverage:
The 14th-ranked men’s hockey team (7-2-0, 2-2-0 NESCAC) will face a pair of nationally-ranked NESCAC opponents in No. 10 Williams (6-0-1, 4-0-0) and No. 8 Middlebury (5-1-2, 2-0-2). Friday’s 7 p.m. showdown with the Ephs will feature live audio ($10) and video ($15) over the internet. Fans can also listen to the game via any telephone for $25. Saturday’s 4 p.m. game at Middlebury will feature free live audio courtesy of AddisonCounty’s WVTK or Middlebury’s campus radio station, WRMC.

Preview: The Jeffs have out-scored opponents by an 18-3 margin during their four-game winning streak but find themselves tied for seventh place in the NESCAC standings. Williams stands alone in first place as the lone team without a conference tie or loss, but the Ephs have not played a game since Dec. 13. Amherst leads all of Division III in penalty kill percentage (93.2) and combined special teams, as opponents have not scored in their past 19 power play opportunities. The Jeffs also rank third in scoring defense (1.67 gpg) and power play conversion rate (30.8), while the Ephs are second in scoring defense (1.29 gpg) and penalty kill percentage (92.3).

Middlebury enters the weekend riding a five-game unbeaten streak, with its only loss of the season coming to No. 2 Plattsburgh State. Martin Drolet ’12 ranks second in Division III in points per game (2.25) with seven goals and 11 assists, while Mathieu Dubuc ’13 is second in points per game among first-years (1.88). Amherst is riding a two-game winning streak against the Ephs and against the Panthers.

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Swimming
Kendra Stern '11 won three freestyle events at Williams as a sophomore.

SWIMMING AND DIVING
Live Coverage:
The swimming and diving teams will host WilliamsCollege Saturday at 1 p.m. (women) and 4 p.m. (men) in what is sure to be the most thrilling dual meet of the season for Amherst. A live webcast will be provided free of charge courtesy of JeffCast.

Preview: When these teams met last year in Williamstown, the Amherst men earned an impressive 133-108 victory to mark the program’s first win over the Ephs since 2004. On the women’s side, Williams came out on top by a score of 194-104 to mark the Jeffs’ first dual meet loss since the 2005-06 season. The Lord Jeff men dominated the freestyle races last year en route to their impressive victory, as they finished one-two in the 50-, 100-, 200- and 500-yard events. It would have been a clean freestyle sweep had it not been for Gary Roberson ’11, who edged Amherst’s Ryan Lichtenfels ’12 by 0.21 seconds in the 1,000. While the Ephs return only one swimmer who won an individual race in last year's men's meet, the Jeffs feature four.

The Amherst women took six of 16 events last year and could not compete with the depth of the Ephs, who featured the top two finishers in eight races. Amherst will once again look to Kendra Stern ’11, who last year against the Ephs won the 50-, 100- and 1,000-yard freestyle events. The Jeffs will also look to their impressive first-years to play a vital role, several of whom have joined Stern to create significant depth in the freestyle races. Stern holds five Pratt Pool records, while Williams’ Logan Todhunter ’12 will be looking to challenge the butterfly pool records as a 2009 national champion in the 100 and 200 fly events.

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Women's Basketball
Jaci Daigneault '11 had 23 points and 11 rebounds in only 18 minutes at Williams last year.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL
Live Coverage:
The second-ranked women’s basketball team’s (11-0) 2 p.m. game at Williams (10-3) on Saturday will feature live audio ($10) and video ($15) over the internet. Fans can also listen to the game via any telephone for $25. Live statistics will be available free of charge.

Preview: Amherst brings an 11-0 record into the weekend but can not look past the Ephs, who dropped the Lord Jeffs to 17-1 with a 64-59 result in a 2007-08 conference game in Williamstown. Amherst leads Division III in scoring defense (41.2 ppg) and scoring margin (+33.8) as one of 17 unbeaten teams, also boasting the NESCAC’s best scoring offense (75.0 ppg). The Jeffs allowed fewer than 40 points in four consecutive games, a streak that was snapped with an 80-53 win at Wesleyan on Wednesday.

The Ephs lead the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.438) thanks to Jennie Harding ’13 (.500) and Grace Rehnquist ’13 (.488), who each rank among the NESCAC’s top four shooters from long distance. Two of the Ephs’ losses have come at the hands of Eastern Connecticut and Western Connecticut, teams that Amherst defeated by a combined 33 points. Jaci Daigneault ’11, who recorded a double-double in each of the past two games against Williams, recorded 23 points and 11 rebounds in only 18 minutes during a 76-46 win in Williamstown last year.

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Men's Basketball
Conor Meehan '11 has averaged 24.5 points and 4.0 assists in the past two games against Williams.

MEN'S BASKETBALL
Live Coverage:
Saturday’s 4 p.m. showdown between No. 9 Amherst (8-1) and No. 11 Williams (11-1) will feature live audio ($10) and video ($15) over the internet. Fans can also listen to the game via any telephone for $25. Live statistics will be available free of charge.

Preview: Amherst is off to another strong start and is ranked higher than Williams in the D3hoops.com Top 25 Poll, but the Ephs have arguably had the more impressive season thus far. Williams has scored at least 100 points four times, with its lone loss coming at the hands of top-ranked Randolph-Macon, a game in which the Ephs held a 16-point lead in the second half. Williams boasts the NESCAC’s top scoring offense (91.3 ppg) and highest field goal percentage (.522), but Amherst has held opponents to a mere 35.4 percent shooting, the second best mark in the conference.

Saturday’s game will feature a battle in the paint, with Williams leading the NESCAC in rebounding margin (+12.2) and Amherst close behind at +12.1. The Jeffs will need to be sharp at the line, as Williams is shooting 77.2 percent from the charity stripe and Amherst is hitting only 64.8 percent of its free throws. Saturday will also feature two of the region's top seniors in Williams’ Blake Schultz ’10 and Amherst’s Steve Wheeler ’10, who rank first (19.9 ppg) and third (18.1 ppg) in the NESCAC in scoring, respectively. In his past two meetings with the Ephs, Conor Meehan ’11 has averaged 24.5 points, 4.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game. Amherst has won four of the past five in this rivalry and has not lost in Williamstown since the 2003-04 season.

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W-Hockey
Amherst hasn't lost a regular season NESCAC game since December of 2006.

WOMEN'S HOCKEY
Live Coverage:
The top-ranked Amherst women’s hockey team (6-1-2, 3-0-1 NESCAC) will host ConnecticutCollege (2-7-1, 1-4-1) Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m., with a live webcast available for each game courtesy of JeffCast.

Preview: Amherst has scored 31 goals and allowed only three during its current eight-game winning streak over the Camels and has not lost to them at Orr Rink since the 2000-01 season. The Jeffs are looking to build on their current 46-game unbeaten streak (38-0-8) in regular season NESCAC play, a dominant stretch that began after a 1-0 loss to Middlebury in December of 2006. The Jeffs have climbed back to No. 1 in Division III by earning a convincing 5-3 win over nationally-ranked RIT and a 2-1 win over previously-top-ranked Plattsburgh.

The Lord Jeffs rank second in the NESCAC in scoring offense (3.44 gpg), scoring defense (1.11 gpg) and power play percentage (21.3). While goaltender Caroline Hu ’11 leads the conference in winning percentage at 4-1-0 (.800), Sinead Murphy ’12 boasts the highest save percentage (.967) and lowest goals-against average (0.48). Randi Zukas ’11 and tri-captain Kirsten Dier ’10 lead the NESCAC in defenseman scoring at 10 points apiece, while four players have seven points for the Jeffs. Connecticut snapped a five-game winless streak on Wednesday with a 3-0 win at Nichols thanks to a pair of goals from first-year Ariel DiPasquale, who leads the team in points with four goals and one assist.