Amherst Cruises to 5-0 Win in First Night Game on Gooding Field

Senior Kevin Dolan played
exceptional for the Jeffs and
registered an assist.
AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men’s soccer team put on quite a show for fans witnessing the first game ever played under the lights at the newly-constructed Gooding Field, as the Lord Jeffs cruised to a 5-0 win over Curry College. The win improves Amherst to 3-0 (1-0 NESCAC), while Curry drops to 1-3-2.

Amherst came out strong and dominated the first 10 minutes of the game, as Curry was forced to play long ball rather than set up a significant attack, taking shots from upwards of 40 yards out. The Jeffs were, however, susceptible to the counter-attack, but their defense was dominant enough as not to allow any serious threats.

The first goal of the game came 18 minutes into the first half, when sophomore Javier Marin (Encinitas, CA) played a ball to the feet of junior forward Jake Duker (Newton, MA) at the 18-yard line. Duker turned on his defender and let loose with his right foot, sending a hard shot to the near post that whizzed by Curry keeper Clark Zelazo to give Amherst a 1-0 advantage.

The Lord Jeff offense was relentless, as junior Nick Lynch (Kingston, Jamaica) sent a beautiful cross to the head of senior forward Taylor Downs (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY) less than one minute later, but the ball flew just wide of the goal. Just minutes later, senior tri-captain John Kneeland (Holden, MA) played a through-ball to Duker, who sent a low cross to the foot of senior tri-captain Ryan O’Donnell (Belchertown, MA). O’Donnell made the perfect run, but his one-timer sailed over the goal, drawing a collection of sighs from the Amherst fans.

The best scoring chance from Curry came with 17 minutes remaining in the first half, when team points-leader Jeff Shea dribbled in untouched after another quick counter-attack, but junior goalkeeper Jeff Grover (Framingham, MA) dove to his right and just barely got a hand on the ball to pick up the timely save.

Zelazo came up with a pair of spectacular saves over the course of 30 seconds, first when senior Kevin Dolan (Peabody, MA) sent a beautiful cross to O’Donnell, whose header was placed perfectly to the keeper’s right side, but Zelazo was able to punch the ball away. Moments later, Duker received a pass inside the 18-yard line and one-timed the ball with the outside of his right foot, but Zelazo once again came up huge and punched the ball over the goal.

Amherst finally capitalized on its relentless offense when Kneeland dribbled out of a crowd of defenders and lofted a perfect ball ahead to Dolan, who sent a low cross to the feet of Downs, allowing him to pound the ball into the back of the net and complete a crisp sequence of textbook soccer with 12:52 remaining in the opening half.

Curry began to take control with four minutes remaining in the half after some sloppy Amherst touches, but the Jeffs quickly refocused and made it a three-goal lead when sophomore Mark Crane (Cambridge, MA) took advantage of a free kick from 40 yards out, sending the ball to the far post. First-year Ian Rothkopf (Harvard, MA) and Zelazo each went up for the ball, but the 6’3 forward won the battle and used his head to place the ball into the side-netting, giving Amherst a comfortable 3-0 lead heading into halftime.

Neither team dominated to open the second half, but Amherst once again found the back of the net after 19 minutes of action when a Chris Devine (Auburn, MA) corner kick made its way to junior Rory O’Connor (West Boylston, MA), who sailed over everyone to send a header past a diving Zelazo, giving the Jeffs a 4-0 lead.

The Jeffs continued the theme of scoring with their heads when, with just 3:24 remaining in the game, Devine sent a throw-in well over the crowd of Curry defenders, allowing first-year Chris Linsmayer (Denver, CO) to run onto the ball untouched and place his shot to the keeper’s right side. Amherst regained possession and was able to hold off the Colonels’ attack, as the Jeffs finished with the impressive 5-0 victory.

Amherst out-shot Curry 20-8 on the evening, earning 11 corner kicks compared to the Colonels’ two. Zelazo made six saves in 76 minutes of action, with sophomore Will Rhudy playing the final 14, while Grover made four saves and sophomore Ansel Orr (Houston, TX) made one. Dolan and first-year Chris Skayne (Boxborough, MA) played exceptional games in the Amherst midfield.

The Lord Jeffs return to action Saturday for a 2 p.m. NESCAC match-up at Bates College.