Winter Teams Once Again Cruising into New Year

AMHERST, MA – The 2008-09 academic year featured arguably the most successful winter in the history of Amherst athletics. The loss of several All-America student-athletes left big shoes to fill across the board, but this winter has left Amherst fans plenty of reasons to celebrate heading into the new year. Take a look at some highlights from November and December, as well as some important events to keep an eye on in 2010.

Amherst Logo
Amherst’s winter teams are a combined 36-3-2 for a remarkable winning percentage of 90.2. This is the fourth consecutive year the combined winning percentage of Amherst’s winter teams heading into Interterm has been higher than it was the previous year (.616 in 2005-06; .719 in 2006-07; .816 in 2007-08; .895 in 2008-09; .902 in 2009-10). Amherst is ranked nationally in women’s basketball (No. 2, D3hoops), men’s basketball (No. 13, D3hoops), women’s hockey (No. 2, USCHO), women's swimming and diving (No. 6, CSCAA), men's swimming and diving (No. 7, CSCAA), men’s squash (No. 16, CSA) and women’s squash (No. 16, CSA).
Women's Bball
The women’s basketball team carries an undefeated record (9-0) into Interterm for the third consecutive year, making Amherst a combined 29-0 in November and December since 2007. The Jeffs have held their opponents to a mere 41.7 points per game (2nd best in Division III). Mount Holyoke (24) and Springfield (29) were each held to fewer than 30 points, while then-17th-ranked Emmanuel missed its first 21 shots and was held to 38 points. GAME TO WATCH: The location of this year’s NESCAC Championship could come down to the Jan. 29 meeting between Amherst and fifth-ranked Bowdoin. Live video and statistics will be available.
Men's Bball
The men’s basketball team has climbed back into the national rankings thanks to a 6-1 start. David Hixon ’75 became the ninth Division III coach to reach 600 career wins when the Jeffs earned a 92-67 victory over Ithaca on Nov. 21. Kurt Bennett ’11 turned heads with a 12-of-12 shooting performance against Emmanuel that led to a NESCAC Co-Player of the Week honor, while Allen Williamson ’13 has wowed fans with dunks like this one. GAME TO WATCH: The Jan. 9 meeting between Amherst and 12th-ranked Williams will not affect the conference standings, but it’s safe to say it will pack the usual punch. A live webcast will be available.
Women's Hockey
The women’s hockey team dropped from the top spot in the USCHO rankings after tying No. 10 Trinity, but the Jeffs demonstrated why they are still very much in the running to defend their national title by earning a convincing 5-3 win over fourth-ranked RIT to remain unbeaten (5-0-2). Amherst allowed only one goal in its first four games and is unbeaten in its past 46 regular-season NESCAC contests (38-0-8) dating back to December of 2006. GAME TO WATCH: The top two teams in Division III and the past two national champions will collide Sunday, Jan. 3 when Amherst takes on No. 1 Plattsburgh in the USCHO Game of the Week.
Men's Hockey
The men’s hockey team fell from the national rankings but is still receiving votes in the USCHO Poll as one of the elite teams in Division III. At 5-2—with one of their losses coming at the hands of third-ranked Norwich—the Jeffs are ahead of last year’s pace, scoring at least three goals in each of their five victories. GAME TO WATCH: Williams and Middlebury will be looking for revenge when the Jeffs come to town as part of a difficult road trip for Amherst. The Jeffs earned a 6-0 win over Williams in last year’s regular season finale before defeating Middlebury for the conference title. The Jan. 8 game at Williams will feature a live webcast.
The men’s (2-0) and women’s (3-0) squash teams each wrapped up the first part of their seasons with unblemished records, which has not happened since the 2004-05 squads headed into Interterm with a combined 3-0 record. Each team opened its respective season with a win over Northeastern, with the women most recently defeating Smith to improve to 3-0. The Lord Jeff women have been playing without last year’s top player, Allie Dalglish ’11, who spent her first semester studying abroad. MATCHES TO WATCH: Each squad will play five matches in a span of three days when the Lord Jeffs host the Amherst Invitational from Jan. 22 to Jan. 24.
The swimming and diving teams are each off to a 3-0 start, marking the third consecutive year both squads have carried perfect records into the new year. Usual suspects Kendra Stern ’11 and Alex Fraser ’11 have picked up right where they left off to lead their respective teams, with an impressive group of first-years adding to the mix nicely. MEETS TO WATCH: The Amherst-Williams dual meet will once again highlight the regular season. Last year the Jeffs defeated the Ephmen for the first time since 2004 thanks to a strong performance from Christian Witzke '09. The men’s and women’s meets will each feature a live webcast.
The indoor track and field teams have competed in only one meet and will not return to action until they travel to Brandeis on Jan. 16. Several Lord Jeffs put in impressive performances at the Smith College Winter Classic to kick off the season, but Ben Scheetz ’12 led the way by winning the 800-meter and 1-mile runs. MEETS TO WATCH: Amherst will make its usual trips to Boston and Wesleyan this January, but championship season will not begin until the Lord Jeff squads split up to take part in the Division III New England Championships on Feb. 20.