Jeffs Survive ECSU on Late Game Heroics from Kneeland

AMHERST, MA- The Amherst College men's soccer team dominated the visiting Warriors of Eastern Conn. State University this afternoon in nearly every statistical measure, but would need late game heroics from senior tri-captain John Kneeland (Holden, MA) in order to escape with a 2-1 win.

Senior tri-captain John Kneeland scored
the game-winner with just 75 seconds left
in the game.

Each team took to Hitchcock Field this afternoon with perfect records following overtime wins in their previous matches. The Jeffs quickly jumped on the ECSU defense in the opening twenty minutes of play. In a three minute span, Amherst forward Taylor Downs (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY) rang the frame of the ECSU goal twice, and had a third shot cleared off the line by a Warrior defender.

On the corner kick which ensued after Downs’ shot was sent off the goal line, Amherst junior midfielder Nick Lynch (Kingston, Jam.) connected with senior tri-captain Ryan O’Donnell (Belchertown, MA) for the game’s opening score. O’Donnell made a darting run to the near post and found the end of an in-swinging service from Lynch, shooting a header into the back of the net.

Amherst seemed only inches away from breaking the game wide open for the next 60 minutes of play, out-shooting the Warriors by a 24-8 margin. The Jeffs also similarly owned the corner kick battle, holding a 16-4 edge.

Much credit was due on the day to ECSU senior goal keeper Jay Barney, the reigning Little East Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Barney had 7 saves on the day, including a number of highlight reel stops. Amherst senior Moe Zeidan (Eden Prarie, MN) made 5 saves in net for the Jeffs.

ECSU made a run at Amherst over a five minute span in the middle of the second half, registering a number of shots and solid scoring opportunities against an otherwise sound Jeff defensive unit. The Warriors found the equalizer in the 76th minute when Maxim Fantl sprung forward Rukevwe Ehwarieme in alone on a breakaway. Ehwarieme slotted the ball under a diving Zeidan to knot the game at 1-1.

Amherst looked like it was in for a frustrating draw in the final minutes, when Downs tracked down a long pass in the corner, and against a pair of ECSU defenders, emerged with a corner kick for the Jeffs.

After a Warrior defender cleared the ball out of the six-yard box with a header, Kneeland collected the bouncing ball at the top of the 18-yard box, and let a hard shot fly off the outside of his right foot, which bent away from the outstretched frame of Barney.

With just 75 seconds showing on the scoreboard, Amherst had once again found a late minute hero for a 2-1 win. Amherst will take tomorrow off for a much deserved recovery day, before returning to the pitch to ready for Thursday evening’s inaugural soccer match on Gooding Field. The Jeffs will face visiting Curry College under the lights at 7 p.m.