Amherst Wins Season Opener in 2-1 Overtime Thriller

Junior Jake Duker netted the game-winner for Amherst in overtime

AMHERST, MA - The Amherst College men's soccer team escaped day one of the 2007 season with a 2-1 overtime victory over visiting Trinity College. Junior forward Jake Duker (Newton, MA) scored the game-winner for the Jeffs after just three minutes and 37 seconds of overtime action. Amherst moves to 1-0 (1-0 NESCAC) on the season, while Trinity falls to 0-1 (0-1 NESCAC).

Despite no goals being scored in the first half, Trinity nearly got on the board when a shot sailed past Amherst goalkeeper Jeff Grover (Framingham, MA), but senior tri-captain Ryan O’Donnell (Belchertown, MA) was perfectly placed on the goal line and able to clear the ball to end the threat.

The first goal of the contest came nearly 24 minutes into the second half, when Amherst played a ball through to sophomore Rob Denious (Bloomfield Hills, MI). Denious turned and had the beat on two Trinity defenders, as he was able to set up just inside the 18-yard line and send a hard shot low and to the corner, giving the Jeffs a 1-0 lead.

The Bantams responded with a goal less than six minutes later when a Chris Doran corner kick found the head of John Graves, as Grover was unable to come up with the save. Neither team managed to score again in regulation, as the two teams headed into overtime in a 1-1 deadlock.

The Jeffs wasted no time in the extra frame, as O’Donnell lofted a chip from 35 yards out, allowing the speedy Duker to run on to the ball. The ball bounced once, causing Trinity goalkeeper Spencer Durland to come off his line, but Duker used the outside of his right foot to loft the ball over Durland’s head and into the goal, giving Amherst a 2-1 win.

Amherst saw strong play from its first-years, as Chris Linsmayer (Denver, CO), Ian Rothkopf (Harvard, MA) and Ryan Conti (Rochester, NY) each put in solid performances in their collegiate debuts. Transfer student Mike Connolly (Amherst, MA) also made an impressive debut for the Jeffs, as he came back from a minor first-half injury to play nearly the entire second half, coming up with several timely tackles along the way.

The Jeffs also saw great senior leadership from their three captains: O’Donnell, John Kneeland (Holden, MA) and Taylor Downs (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY). Junior Nick Lynch (Kingston, Jamaica) also put in a solid performance, often times making the Amherst offense look dangerous.

The teams were evenly matched throughout the game, as Amherst took 19 shots compared to Trinity’s 15. Forty-five fouls were committed in what was a very physical, yet clean, match-up, with the Jeffs committing 23 and the Bantams committing 22. Grover finished the day with eight saves, while Durland stopped six shots.

Amherst returns to action Sunday for a 2 p.m. home match-up with Eastern Connecticut State University.