Mark Your Calendars...
AMHERST, MA – Looking to catch a good game at Amherst this fall? Here are five home events you shouldn’t miss, as well as some options in case you feel like seeing the Lord Jeffs compete on the road.
1) Saturday, Nov. 5 – Football vs. Trinity
Why You Shouldn’t Miss It: If you’re an avid fan of Amherst football, you probably savor wins over Trinity as much as you savor wins against Williams. Well, it’s a close second. After all, Trinity has won 15 of the past 22 meetings and has spoiled Amherst’s hopes of a perfect season twice since 2001. The Bantams are also 65-7 since 2002 thanks to nine consecutive seasons of 6-2 or better, and it's not easy watching a conference rival enjoy that level of success. (Just ask Sox fans from 1919 to 2003.)
Pratt Field was quite the scene
when Amherst beat Trinity in 2009.
Last year’s result was particularly tough to swallow for Amherst. The Jeffs headed to Hartford at 6-0 to test their explosive offense against what appeared to be an unbreakable defense. Things started so well for the Jeffs, who opened the game with a 47-yard touchdown bomb from Alex Vetras ’11 to Andre Gary ’11 on the first play from scrimmage. Trinity’s first drive then resulted in an interception, and the Lord Jeffs capitalized with a 35-yard field goal to take a 10-0 lead. It seemed as though Trinity’s home crowd—which had seen the Bantams win 38 consecutive games at Jessee/Miller Field since 2001—was in for a long day. But in the blink of an eye, the quest for a second consecutive perfect season came to a halt.Taking a 13-7 lead into the fourth quarter, Amherst surrendered 21 unanswered points and had its win streak snapped at 14.
With that in mind, there’s a good chance this year’s meeting at Pratt Field will have some added emotion. Among the storylines will be another meeting between Amherst’s Eric Bunker ’12 and Trinity’s Evan Bunker ’14, their respective teams’ top running backs. Evan was named the NESCAC’s Rookie of the Year in 2010, while Eric landed on the All-Conference Team. Both Bunkers finished among the NESCAC’s top four in rushing yards per game, with Eric ranking second in yards per carry (5.2). Evan stood out in last year’s meeting by rushing for 211 yards and one touchdown, also throwing a TD pass that led to a go-ahead extra point in the fourth quarter. The younger brother got the last laugh in 2010, but Eric will have a shot at payback in 2011 when he competes at Pratt Field for the final time of his career. (And take it from someone with two older brothers—the younger brother rarely gets the last laugh.)
Wanna Get Away? Check out the Nov. 12 meeting in Williamstown to watch the Jeffs square off against You-Know-Who for the 126th time.
2) Saturday, Sept. 24 – Women’s Tennis vs. Williams
Why You Shouldn’t Miss It: The annual fall meeting between Amherst and Williams doesn’t count toward the NESCAC standings, and it isn’t any indication of who’s going to win the national title. But any time you have a chance to watch the #1 team in the country take on the #2 team, you should take advantage of the situation.
Jordan Brewer '14 was 4-1 against the Ephs'
top singles player during the 2010-11 season.
This year’s fall showdown may have a different feel to it, as it will be a rematch of the epic 2011 NCAA Championship finals. The Jeffs and Ephs have played in some classic matches, but last year’s title bout was arguably the most entertaining in the rivalry’s history. Williams swept the doubles portion of the match to build what appeared to be an insurmountable lead, but the Lord Jeffs stunned an energetic crowd by battling back to tie the score at 4-4. With all eyes on Court 2, Nancy Worley ’13 put an end to the exhilarating match when she stormed from behind to edge Amherst’s Laura Danzig ’12 in a third-set tiebreaker.
Amherst and Williams have consistently been two of the best teams in all of Division III, with the Ephs boasting an 87-11 dual match record (.888) in the past four years and the Jeffs right behind at 78-10 (.886). Williams will be ranked No. 1 in September, but the lower-ranked team has won seven of the past eight meetings. Highlighting next year’s renewal of the rivalry will be the potential rematch between Danzig and Worley, who were 1-1 against each other heading into the 2011 NCAA finals. There is also the potential for a rematch between Jordan Brewer ’14 and Kristin Alotta ’12 at the top of the singles ladder, with Brewer posting a 4-1 record against her Eph counterpart last year.
Wanna Get Away? Follow the Jeffs when they travel to Bates on Sept. 30 for the three-day ITA Regional Championships. Brewer won the singles title at last year’s regional event before teaming up with Gabby Devlin ’14 for the doubles crown.
3) Saturday, Oct. 1 – Field Hockey vs. Tufts
Why You Shouldn’t Miss It: Because the NESCAC has been such a dominant conference when it comes to field hockey, each matchup of ranked teams could be the difference between qualifying for the NCAA Tournament and having a season come to an abrupt end. (Just ask the 2010 Lord Jeffs.)
Amherst hasn't scored against Tufts since 2007,
but this year could be a different story.
Tufts has had Amherst's number as of late. More accurately, Tufts has pretty much had everyone’s number. The Jumbos are 40-2 in regular-season games these past three years, with both losses coming to Trinity in overtime. They have played in three consecutive NESCAC title games, winning the tournament in 2009. Amherst hasn’t scored against Tufts since 2007, as the Jumbos held a 19-2 advantage in shots in 2008 and a 27-6 edge in 2009. Despite being shut out again in 2010 (3-0), the tables began to turn when the Jeffs matched the Jumbos in second-half shots (6-6) and held the advantage in second-half penalty corners (5-3). Since that game Amherst has won seven straight at Gooding Field.
At season’s end the teams were side-by-side in the NESCAC statistical rankings: Amherst was second in scoring offense (3.75 gpg) and third in goals-against average (1.43), while Tufts was third in goals per game (3.39) and second in GAA (0.71). The Jumbo defense could once again be strong with the return of Taylor Dyer ’12, the reigning NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year, but they lose three of their four All-Conference selections to graduation, including two-time Offensive Player of the Year Tamara Brown ’11. Amherst, meanwhile, returns an incredible amount of talent and depth at every position (including three All-Region selections) and welcomes an exceptional first-year class. With the Jeffs continuing to climb the NESCAC ladder, this year should feature one of the most evenly matched Amherst-Tufts showdowns in recent history.
Wanna Get Away? Try to catch the Jeffs’ Oct. 16 game at Bowdoin, which will be a rematch of last year’s NESCAC semifinals. Both of last season’s Amherst-Bowdoin meetings were decided by one goal, with the postseason showdown requiring overtime.
4) Friday, Oct. 28 – Volleyball vs. Williams
Why You Shouldn’t Miss It: Volleyball players' celebrations make it seem as though every point of a match is the biggest point of the season. When you throw the Amherst-Williams rivalry and a revved-up crowd into the mix, you get a phenomenal atmosphere in LeFrak Gymnasium.
Amherst and Williams have been
involved in a tug-of-war since 2006.
The Amherst-Williams rivalry was rejuvenated in 2006 when the Jeffs won the NESCAC title by defeating the Ephs on their home court in the finals. Williams returned the favor in 2007, but it was Amherst that moved on to the national quarterfinals that year (after beating Williams in the second round of the NCAA Tournament). Not to be outdone, the Ephs came out of nowhere in 2008 and stormed through the conference tournament as the No. 4 seed (again beating Amherst in the finals) en route to the NCAA quarterfinals. Williams swept the season series in 2009, but Amherst won the lone meeting in 2010 to earn the top seed in the NESCAC Championship.
The rivalry has been a tug-of-war these past five years, but the teams seemed to heading in opposite directions in 2010. While Amherst posted a 23-2 regular-season record, Williams hit a late skid and finished at 17-13 overall. This season will be interesting for both teams, as Williams lost all three of its All-NESCAC selections to graduation and Amherst parted ways with one of the most talented classes in program history. The Ephs welcome six first-years and feature only one senior on the 2011 roster, while the Jeffs will also look to new players to pitch in. Still, Amherst returns one of the conference’s best one-two punches in outside hitters Cristy Meier ’12 and KC Kanoff ’12, who will be set up by last year’s conference leader in assists per set, Callie Neilson ’13. Although the teams’ outlooks are up in the air, the atmosphere in LeFrak on Oct. 28 should be as great as ever.
Wanna Get Away? Tufts is consistently the best team in the NESCAC and is the reason Amherst’s NESCAC Championship run ended abruptly in each of the past two years, so try to make it to Medford on Oct. 7 to see the Jeffs take on the Jumbos.
5) Sunday, Sept. 18 – Men’s & Women’s Soccer vs. Middlebury
(Okay, this is technically two games. But since the men’s and women’s fields are next to each other and the games will be going on at the same time, consider it a 2-for-1 deal. Can’t beat that.)
Five of Amherst's 12 losses since 2007
have come at the hands of Middlebury.
Why You Shouldn’t Miss the Men’s Game: Any meeting between Amherst and Middlebury gives fans a chance to watch some of the best soccer New England has to offer. With both teams ranked in the top 10 in the NSCAA’s national preseason poll, this year’s meeting will feature some of the best players in all of Division III. Amherst is 68-15-11 (.782) in the past five years, with Middlebury close behind at 70-19-10 (.758). The Panthers won the NCAA title in 2007, while the Jeffs advanced to the national semifinals in 2008. They have met in the postseason in each of the past six years, with Middlebury coming out on top in 2007 to win the NESCAC title before Amherst upset the Panthers for the 2008 crown. Middlebury has made five consecutive appearances in the conference’s championship game and has won the tournament three times since 2000.
Amherst head coach Justin Serpone has lost only 12 games in four years, with five of those losses coming at the hands of Middlebury. The Panthers have shut out the Jeffs five times in the past five years, posting a pair of clean slates in 2010 to bump their head-to-head winning streak to three. Amherst held a 13-7 advantage in shots and an 8-1 edge in corners during last year’s regular-season meeting, only to have Middlebury score in the 79th minute for a 1-0 win. In the conference semifinals the Jeffs were held to only seven shots, as the Panthers scored in each half for the 2-0 result. Traditionally known for its defense, Middlebury posted 14 shutouts last year to lead the conference in goals-against average (0.51), while Amherst featured the best scoring offense (2.37 gpg).
Amherst will look to avenge last
year's overtime loss to Middlebury.
Why You Shouldn’t Miss the Women’s Game: Amherst will do whatever it takes to avoid a repeat of 2010. The Jeffs carried a 1-0 lead into halftime last year in Vermont, adding goals in the 48th and 60th minutes to build a 3-0 cushion. With only 10 minutes remaining in regulation and the Middlebury fans preparing their “We’ll get ‘em next time” speeches, the Panthers shocked everyone by scoring three goals in just over six minutes to send the game into overtime. Scarlett Kirk ’14—who accounted for two goals in regulation—then secured a hat trick by netting the game winner in the 96th minute. Those were the first collegiate goals for Kirk, who may as well have been handed the NESCAC Player of the Week trophy right then and there.
Last year’s game contributed to what has been an outstanding rivalry these past five years. It began in 2006 when Amherst earned a 3-2, double-overtime win during the regular season, only to have Middlebury come back to upset the Jeffs in overtime of the NESCAC finals, 1-0. The Panthers came out on top in the 2007 quarterfinals (1-0), the Jeffs got revenge in the 2008 semifinals (1-0), and Middlebury pushed right back in the 2009 semifinals (you guessed it: 1-0). The teams have posted virtually identical marks during these past five years, with Amherst (55-22-12, .685) ahead of Middlebury (54-23-10, .678) by the slimmest of margins. Both teams will be looking to get off to strong starts after what was a disappointing season, as they combined for 27 wins in 2009 but had only eight apiece in 2010.
Wanna Get Away? Follow the men’s team to Bowdoin on Oct. 16 to see a rematch of last year’s thrilling NCAA Sectional Semifinals, which saw the Polar Bears advance on penalty kicks. Also, join the women’s team at Williams on Oct. 8 for a rematch of last year’s NESCAC title match, which the Ephs won by a score of 1-0.