Soccer, Field Hockey Regular Seasons to Wrap up Friday

AMHERST, MA – The regular season will end this Friday for the Amherst College soccer and field hockey teams, but all three Lord Jeff squads have already secured a spot in the postseason. Amherst’s men’s and women’s soccer teams are guaranteed to host quarterfinal games in their respective NESCAC Championships regardless of how they fare against Trinity College on Friday, but the field hockey team will need to successfully defend its home field against the Bantams if the Jeffs want to host a tournament game. Conference tournament action begins Sunday, Oct. 31, for all three sports.

Trinity (6-6-1, 2-5-1 NESCAC) @ Amherst (9-1-3, 4-1-3 NESCAC)

Series History: Amherst will be putting on the line an 11-game winning streak against the Bantams, who have not defeated the Lord Jeffs since a 3-2 overtime result in the 1999 ECAC semifinals. The rivalry has been more competitive than the streak indicates, with each of the past seven meetings being decided by only one goal and two of the past four requiring overtime.

Men's SoccerGame Preview: Amherst is in the midst of a four-game winning streak and has yet to lose at home this year (4-0-1), while Trinity has been shut out in each of its past three conference outings and has yet to post an unbeaten streak of more than two games. The Jeffs hold a significant statistical edge over the Bantams, as Friday’s game will feature the NESCAC’s most efficient (2.69 goals/game) and least efficient (1.00 goals/game) scoring offenses. Both teams boast goals-against averages below 1.00, with the Jeffs ranking third in the conference (0.43) and the Bantams coming in at sixth (0.88). Amherst is the NESCAC’s only team that has yet to allow more than one goal in any game this season.

Amherst forward James Mooney ’12 has been particularly successful against the Bantams in his career. Mooney scored in each of the Jeffs’ wins over Trinity in 2008, including a game winner that came in the 86th minute of a 1-0 result in the NESCAC semifinals. In last year’s meeting Mooney picked up an assist on what proved to be the game-winning goal in the 68th minute. With four goals and five assists this season, Mooney is one of four Amherst players who rank among the top 10 in the NESCAC in points per game. Dan Mayernick ’12 is the only Bantam in the top 20 (1.00 ppg, T-8th) as the team’s leader in points (12) and goals (5). Mayernick accounted for Trinity’s lone goal during a 1-0 win at Wesleyan, also scoring in a 3-2 overtime win at Connecticut College.

Amherst's Spencer Noon ’13 leads the conference in goals (10) and is second in points per game (1.75), while Ian Rothkopf ’11 ranks second in assists (6) and is third in points per game (1.38). Noon and Rothkopf share the NESCAC lead in game-winning tallies (4), with Rothkopf most recently accounting for both of his team’s goals during a 2-1, come-from-behind win at Framingham State. Alejandro Sucre ’13 has also been playing the role of hero as of late. After scoring with 37 seconds remaining in double overtime to lead the Jeffs past Colby, Sucre had a goal and an assist during a 2-1, come-from-behind win at Wesleyan.

NESCAC Standings: The right to host a NESCAC Championship quarterfinal game has already been earned by Amherst, Middlebury (11-2-0, 6-2-0), Bowdoin (10-1-2, 5-1-2) and Williams (10-1-2, 5-1-2), but the conference’s top seed is still up for grabs. Amherst is the only team in the group that cannot claim the top spot, with Middlebury heading to Williams Friday in a pivotal showdown and Bowdoin set to take on Tufts (5-6-2, 3-3-2). The Jeffs could climb to as high as No. 2 if Bowdoin and Williams lose this Friday.

Trinity will guarantee a spot in the postseason with a win over Amherst, but a loss or tie would mean the Bantams need help to keep their season alive. With Trinity, Bates and Connecticut College sharing 2-5-1 NESCAC records and Wesleyan close behind at 2-6-0, the race for the final playoff berths is too close to call at this point. The Bantams would prefer to keep things simple by earning a win over the Jeffs for the first time in more than a decade.

Trinity (5-3-4, 3-3-2 NESCAC) @ Amherst (6-5-2, 5-1-2 NESCAC)

Series History: Amherst has put together an eight-game unbeaten streak (5-0-3) against Trinity since a 2-1 loss to the Bantams in 2001, as the Jeffs are 14-10-7 in the all-time series (9-1-5 since 1995). Amherst scored at least two goals against Trinity in each of its five wins from 2004-08, but the teams played to a scoreless draw last year in Hartford.

Women's SoccerGame Preview: Trinity and Amherst got off to strong starts in 2010 but have struggled as of late. The Bantams were unbeaten in their first five NESCAC games (3-0-2) but have lost their past three, posting a 1-3-3 overall record since Oct. 3. Similarly, the Jeffs opened the season with a four-game unbeaten streak (3-0-1) but are 3-5-1 in their past nine games. Home field advantage will not be a factor with these teams, as Trinity has fared better on the road (3-1-2) than at home (2-2-2) and the Jeffs have found similar success regardless of where they play (3-3-1 home, 3-2-1 away).

Amherst holds the edge on offense with an average of 1.46 goals scored per game, compared to 1.08 for Trinity. The Jeffs have scored at least two goals on six occasions, posting a 5-1 record in those games. The defensive advantage goes to Trinity, which has posted a conference-high seven shutouts and boasts a goals-against average of 0.62, the second lowest mark in the NESCAC. Amherst, meanwhile, features the league’s eighth lowest GAA (1.17).

Reigning NESCAC Player of the Week Amanda Brisco ’14 has broken through as Amherst’s biggest offensive threat. Four of her team-leading five goals have come in key conference games, including a 1-0 win at archrival Williams. Brisco’s first collegiate points came during a 2-1 win at Bowdoin, and most recently she accounted for both tallies in a 2-0 victory at Wesleyan to keep the Jeffs in the running for the conference’s No. 1 seed. Brisco is one of four Amherst players who rank among the NESCAC’s top 20 in points per game. Representing the Bantams in the top 20 is Leigh Howard ’12, whose seven goals and two assists leave her third on the list (1.60).

Standing in Brisco’s way will be the Trinity goalkeeping tandem of Lily Pepper ’12 and Emily Weedon ’11. Pepper, who typically plays the first 45 minutes of each game in net, leads all NESCAC keepers in goals-against average (0.32) and save percentage (.950) with 555 minutes under her belt. Weedon has played 563 minutes and ranks fifth in GAA (0.96) and third in save percentage (.878). Notably, the two combined for five saves during a 0-0 tie against Eastern Connecticut State, the top-ranked team in New England and 10th-ranked squad in Division III.

NESCAC Standings: Amherst has earned the right to host a NESCAC Championship quarterfinal game for the 11th consecutive year, but the Jeffs are still fighting for the conference’s No. 1 seed. A win over Trinity would give the Jeffs the top spot regardless of what else happens on Friday. A tie against the Bantams will give Amherst the highest seed only if Tufts (7-2-3, 5-1-2) ties or loses in its finale with Bowdoin (6-5-2, 3-4-1). Should the Jeffs lose on Friday, they can still earn the No. 1 seed if Tufts and Middlebury (7-3-3, 4-2-2) also fall. The only other team that can finish atop the standings is Tufts.

Amherst, Tufts and Williams (8-3-2, 4-2-2) have all guaranteed home games in the conference tournament’s opening round, but that fourth spot is still up for grabs between Trinity and Middlebury. In order to host a quarterfinal game for the first time ever, the Bantams would need to knock off the Jeffs and hope for Williams to defeat Middlebury.

#19 Trinity (8-5, 5-3 NESCAC) @ #16 Amherst (10-3, 5-3 NESCAC)

Series History: Trinity posted an 18-0 record against Amherst from 1977-95, but the Lord Jeffs have since gone 10-5 against the Bantams. Amherst’s Class of 2011 has yet to lose a regular season game to Trinity, with the past two resulting in a 1-0 shutout. Each of the past four meetings has been decided by one goal, including a 1-0 result that went the Bantams’ way in the 2008 NESCAC quarterfinals. Last year Trinity opened the season with 13 consecutive wins before being upset by Amherst at home, 1-0.

Field HockeyGame Preview: Putting an exclamation point on the regular season has become a trademark maneuver for the Lord Jeffs, who are looking to carry a winning streak of at least five games into the postseason for a third consecutive year. The Jeffs won their final six games of the 2008 and 2009 regular seasons, and this year are riding a four-game streak as winners of nine of their past 10. Amherst is looking to host a quarterfinal game in the NESCAC Championship for the third time in as many years.

Trinity recently had a five-game winning streak snapped by a 2-0 result at Bowdoin, moving the Bantams to 1-4 in road games this year. Amherst has won each of its past five home contests but will be up against a Trinity team that knocked off then-top-ranked Tufts in overtime, 2-1, on Oct. 16. The Bantams also came close to upsetting Middlebury but ultimately fell in overtime, 4-3.

The Bantams will need to find a solution for reigning NESCAC Co-Player of the Week Katie McMahon ’13, whose 34 points in the past six games have given her the conference lead in assists (13) and points (47) while leaving her second in goals (17). McMahon’s surge has helped Amherst record at least four goals in each of its past four games, giving the Jeffs the second highest scoring average in the league (4.08). Four other Lord Jeffs rank among the NESCAC’s top 20 leaders in points per game, while three Bantams are in the top 20 to give the team a 2.92 goals-per-game average.

Robyn Williams ’11 recorded seven goals and five assists during Trinity’s recent five-game winning streak, as she ranks fifth in the conference in points per game (2.11). Notably, she came off the bench to score a pair of goals against Tufts, including the game winner in overtime to secure the upset. Trinity (1.27 GAA) holds a slim advantage over Amherst (1.46 GAA) in scoring defense, but the Jeffs have posted six shutouts compared to Trinity’s two. Amherst’s Stephanie Clegg ’12 is tied for the NESCAC lead in defensive saves (5), while classmate Sarah McCarrick ’12 has recorded three of her own.  

NESCAC Standings: Amherst will secure a home quarterfinal game for the third consecutive year with a win over Trinity, but a rematch between the two teams could be in store regardless of Friday’s outcome. If the Jeffs lose their regular season finale, they would finish with the fifth seed and travel to Trinity for the conference tournament’s opening round. If the Jeffs win on Friday, they would host either Wesleyan (9-4, 4-4) or Trinity on Sunday, depending on how Wesleyan fares against Connecticut College (6-6, 2-6).

For the Bantams, a loss to Amherst could drop them to as low as No. 6 if Wesleyan were to defeat Connecticut College. Whichever team winds up as the sixth seed will travel to take on third-seeded Middlebury (10-3, 6-2) in the quarterfinals. Bowdoin (13-0, 8-0) and Tufts (11-1, 7-1) will meet this Friday in a much anticipated matchup between national powerhouses, with the winner earning the right to host the semifinal and final rounds of the NESCAC Championship.