A Look Back at Amherst's Memorable Fall

Contact: Justin Long

2011 Fall Championship Video Recap

AMHERST, Mass. - Amherst's winter teams come along each year and push the fall teams out the door regardless of how successful they were. This past fall, however, was one of the most exceptional seasons in Amherst athletics history and deserves extra attention. In case you missed out on the action, here's a crash course on how the Jeffs performed this fall, with an in-depth look at the football and women's soccer teams.

Three teams won NESCAC titles for the first time in any season in school history, while four competed in their respective NCAA championships. The Lord Jeffs were a combined 82-16-2 (.830), including 14-5 in the postseason. Notably, the football, field hockey, men's soccer and women's soccer teams were a combined 59-7-2 (.882) and each set or tied a program record for wins in a season. Three student-athletes were named NESCAC Player of the Year, with nine earning All-America status. Last week Amherst landed in third place in the Directors' Cup final fall standings with its second highest point total in 17 years.
The women's soccer team won its first 20 games of the season before falling to the eventual NCAA champion in the national quarterfinals. The Jeffs finished the regular season with a 10-0-0 conference record, giving them the top seed in the NESCAC Championship. Their bid for a perfect season nearly came to an end in the conference finals, but they rallied for a 2-1 win over Williams to claim the program's third NESCAC title. Amherst went on to win three NCAA Tournament games, including a 2-0 result against powerhouse Johns Hopkins. Several players were recognized at the conference, regional and national levels, with Kathryn Nathan '13 standing out as the NESCAC Co-Player of the Year and an NSCAA All-America First Team honoree. READ MORE
The football team seemed to be in trouble when it had its back to the wall in the 2011 season opener at Bates, but the Jeffs rallied for a 20-7 win and never looked back. Amherst lost starting quarterback Brian McMahon '12 to injury during a preseason scrimmage, but Blake Grauer '12 stepped up and carried the Jeffs to a 4-0 start. McMahon got the start in the final four games and helped Amherst cap off the second 8-0 season in three years, notably putting up a combined 66 points against Trinity and Williams in the final two weeks. Running back Eric Bunker '12 was named the NESCAC's Offensive Player of the Year, while defensive lineman Kevin Ferber '12 became the first player in program history to earn a spot on the D3football.com All-America First Team. READ MORE
This was arguably the second best field hockey team ever assembled at Amherst, but even extraordinary teams aren’t guaranteed anything when they compete in the best conference in Division III. Finishing at 15-4 with an appearance in the national quarterfinals, only the 1999 squad finished with a better record (15-3) and advanced further in the NCAA Tournament (finals). Each of Amherst’s losses came by one goal, two came in overtime and three were to teams that advanced to at least the NCAA semifinals. Carly Dudzik ’12 earned her third All-America selection, Rachel Tannenbaum ’15 led the nation in save percentage (.901) and Katie McMahon ’13 became the school’s all-time leader in points (120). Coach Knerr surpassed the 100-win mark and increased her seasonal winning percentage for the sixth consecutive year, while the Class of 2012 finished at 49-18.
Amherst has been one of the best men’s soccer teams in Division III since Coach Serpone arrived in 2007, and this season was no exception. The Jeffs got off to an 11-0-2 start, won the program’s second NESCAC title, cruised into the third round of the NCAA Tournament and set a school record for wins (16-2-2). The run ended with a 2-1 loss to Stevens despite Amherst scoring first and holding a commanding 21-6 advantage in shots. Spencer Noon ’13 was named NESCAC Player of the Year and earned an All-America selection after setting program records for career goals (35) and points (83). The Class of 2012 was 56-12-10 as a group, with goalkeeper Lennard Kovacs ’12 posting 32 shutouts and a 0.66 GAA to go with a pair of Academic All-America honors. Bad news for the rest of Division III: Amherst led the NESCAC in scoring offense (2.50) and will return 49 of 50 goals next year.
The NESCAC has claimed nine NCAA women’s cross country titles since 2000, but Amherst once again stood out as an elite team in the most competitive conference in Division III. The Jeffs placed third at the NESCAC Championship and fourth at the NCAA regional meet, closing out the season by finishing 11th at the national championship. Keri Lambert ’13 put in Amherst’s fastest time in all seven of her races, notably earning All-America honors by placing fifth at Nationals. Lambert established herself as one of the country’s best runners by finishing as the NESCAC runner-up after posting the top Division III time at the NEICAAA meet. The Jeffs will return six of their top seven runners in 2012, as Lambert and 2010 All-America honoree Ali Simeone ’13 could help Amherst join Middlebury and Williams among the best teams in Division III.
After losing two outstanding senior classes, the 2011 men’s cross country season was expected to be a rebuilding year for Amherst. Coach Nedeau expected his unranked Lord Jeffs to improve throughout the year and be much better than they appeared to be on paper, and his prediction held up at season’s end. With strong chemistry and a crop of young runners stepping up, Amherst closed its championship season by placing sixth in a field of 44 teams at the ECAC Championship and eighth of 48 at the NCAA Regionals, impressive showings for such a young team. Andrew Erskine ’13 exceeded expectations by placing sixth at the regional championship, shaving more than two minutes off of his 2010 time to earn a trip to Nationals. The Jeffs should continue to see improvements in 2012 when they return six of their top seven runners and a strong senior class.
Despite parting ways with one of the most accomplished senior classes in program history, the volleyball team posted its sixth consecutive 20-win season (20-7) and finished with an 8-0 record at home. The Lord Jeffs won six of their final seven regular season matches, but their run ended with a 3-1 loss to Trinity in the NESCAC quarterfinals. Notable wins included 3-2 results against Coast Guard and Williams, as Amherst rallied from a 2-0 deficit on each occasion. Kristin Keeno ’13 led the conference in digs per set (6.23), KC Kanoff ’12 finished her career with more than 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs, and Cristy Meier ’12 further established herself as one of the program’s best outside hitters. Lauren Antion ’15 showed significant promise as a middle hitter, but Coach Everden will need to reload after losing three consistent attackers to graduation this spring.
Although the fall season isn’t much of an indication of how the men's tennis team will perform in the spring, Amherst seems to be well on its way to another exceptional year under Coach Garner. The Jeffs began the season in the midst of a 19-match win streak as the defending NESCAC and NCAA champions, and they got off to a promising start when Joey Fritz ’14 won the USTA/ITA New England Regional singles title. Amherst then hit the road and picked up wins over #13 Johns Hopkins, #17 Carnegie Mellon and #25 MIT in its only dual matches of the fall, securing its #1 national ranking in the process. The Jeffs should be even more dangerous when they welcome back All-America honorees Austin Chafetz ’12 and Luis Rattenhuber ’13, but their grueling spring break trip will be followed by a challenging conference schedule that includes several national powerhouses.
The women’s tennis team suffered a 6-3 loss to top-ranked Williams in its only dual match of the fall, but neither team was playing with a full roster. Reigning national doubles champion Jordan Brewer ’14 teamed up with Laura Danzig ’12 for a win over the Ephs’ top pair, with each Lord Jeff also coming out on top in singles play. Danzig and Brewer then won the ITA Regional doubles championship, the Gail Smith Doubles Tournament and the New England Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis Tournament, solidifying themselves as the best tandem in the region. With Danzig and Brewer leading the way, Amherst concluded its fall season as the second-ranked team in Division III and will be among the favorites to challenge for the national title. The Jeffs finished the 2010-11 season with a 20-3 record as the NCAA runners-up, moving the Class of 2012 to 62-8 as a group.
The men’s golf team still has half of its schedule remaining, but September and October were promising months for the Lord Jeffs. Captain Nate Belkin ’12 earned All-NESCAC honors last year and began his senior season with more consistent play, but he was joined by several young golfers capable of stepping into leadership roles. Nicholas Koh ’14 stood out by placing second in a field of 118 players at Middlebury, later earning a spot on the All-Conference First Team by placing third at the NESCAC Championship Qualifier. Although the Lord Jeffs just missed out on qualifying for the conference championship, they closed out their fall season by playing well against Williams at the first-ever Mountain-Valley Cup Challenge. Josh Moser ’15 was named Amherst’s Most Valuable Player of the weekend after winning all four of his points against the Ephs.
Amherst’s women’s golf program has made significant strides these past five years, but it took a big hit with the loss of three-time NGCA All-America selection Hayley Milbourn ’11. The Lord Jeffs also began the 2011-12 season without two of their top players but still finished in the top three in each of their four fall events, placing third of 11 at NYU and Williams, third of 15 at Mount Holyoke and second of six at Wellesley. Laura Monty ’12 and Nina Yoo ’12 led the way in the first two tournaments, but Elaine Lin ’12 posted the team’s lowest score in each of the last two. With Liz Monty ’13—who consistently posted the team’s lowest score last year—and Irene Hickey ’13 returning from studying abroad in Ireland, Amherst will have a chance to win the NESCAC Tournament for a third consecutive year and make a push for the NCAA Championship.