Jeffs to Host Husson Wednesday in NCAA First Round
AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College Lord Jeffs will host the Eagles of Husson University Wednesday, Nov. 11 in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Field Hockey Tournament. Game time is set for 6 p.m. on Gooding Field. Tickets will be available at the field and will cost $5 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens. Wednesday’s game will feature live video courtesy of JeffCast.
Wednesday will mark the first-ever meeting between the Amherst and Husson field hockey teams. The Eagles earned an automatic bid to their first NCAA Tournament after they won the North Atlantic Conference championship this past weekend, while the Lord Jeffs earned an at-large bid to mark their fourth appearance in the national tournament. The winner of Wednesday's game will advance to play Skidmore College at regional host Tufts University Saturday, Nov. 14 in the Second Round.
Amherst—ranked 15th in last week’s NFHCA Division III National Coaches Poll—has posted a 3-3 record in NCAA Tournament history. All three of those wins came during the 1999 postseason, when the Lord Jeffs advanced to the national title game.
At 11-4 (6-3 NESCAC), head coach Carol Knerr and the Lord Jeffs are in the midst of their best season since 2003, when Amherst finished at 11-5. A win over Husson would mark the program’s highest win total since the 2001 squad went 13-4, and would also mark the program’s first NCAA Tournament victory in 10 years.
Amherst headed into the NESCAC Championship riding a dominant six-game winning streak, during which the Lord Jeffs out-scored opponents by a 23-6 margin. Although the third-seeded Jeffs were upset by sixth-seeded Bowdoin in the quarterfinals, Amherst had put together a strong enough résumé to stay ahead of the Polar Bears in the regional rankings. Joining Amherst in the NCAA Tournament from the NESCAC are Tufts, Trinity and Middlebury.
Seven players have recorded at least 10 points for Amherst this year, with senior tri-captain Haley Douds leading the way at 21 points on 10 goals and one assist. First-year Katie McMahon has established herself as one of the conference’s top newcomers, as her seven goals and five assists make her one of only two NESCAC first-years with more than 15 points. Pacing the defense once again has been senior tri-captain Tierney Healey, who leads the conference with five defensive saves, while sophomore goalkeeper Emily Vitale ranks fourth in save percentage (.800) and goals-against average (1.36).
Husson (9-7, 4-3 NAC) got off to a 2-7 start this season but will bring a seven-game winning streak to Amherst Wednesday evening. The Eagles suffered a 2-1 loss to Colby and a 6-0 setback to Bowdoin in their only two meetings with NESCAC teams this year, but Husson has completely turned things around despite being a very young team. In addition to the squad featuring only two seniors, Katie Flaherty is making her head coaching debut this season.
The Eagles stormed through the NAC Tournament as the fourth seed, defeating fifth-seeded Lasell in the opening round before upsetting top-seeded Saint Joseph’s and third-seeded Maine-Farmington in the semifinals and finals, respectively. The semifinal win came in dramatic fashion, with Husson converting on a penalty corner with 00:00 showing on the clock to tie the game at 1-1 at the end of regulation. Neither team scored in 30 minutes of overtime, and the Eagles advanced to the finals on penalty strokes.
Leading the Eagles has been Jillian Morin with six goals and four assists for a team-high 16 points, but Husson features a number of threats on offense. Lorri Hiltz has recorded nine points on the season and was named MVP of the NAC Tournament, while Skye Ellis scored a goal in the semifinals and finals, including the crucial game-tying goal that sent the semifinal contest into overtime.