Third-Ranked Jeffs Fire to 3-1 Win Over #10 Middlebury
Senior tri-captain Taylor Downs had 2
goals in a 3-1 win over Middlebury.
AMHERST, MA – The third-ranked Amherst College men’s soccer team played host to tenth-ranked Middlebury College this afternoon in the nation’s premier collegiate soccer match-up. The top-two sides in the NESCAC and New England region did not disappoint the hoards of fans who watched the Jeffs fire on all cylinders to a 3-1 victory.
Amherst’s fiery pair of strikers started the game with a great scoring chance in just the third minute of play. Senior tri-captain Taylor Downs (Hastings-on-Hudson , N.Y.) flicked a header across the 18-yard box to junior forward Jake Duker (Newton, MA) for a full volley attempt on frame. Panther goal keeper Brian Bush did all he could with a pair of diving taps to pop the ball up and then over his own crossbar.
The Jeffs dominated the run of play for the next 10 minutes of the game, but were unable to penetrate the stifling Middlebury defense early. The Panther backline had surrendered just a pair of goals in its first seven matches, but Amherst would equal that total in the following seven minutes of action.
In just the 11th minute, senior tri-captain John Kneeland (Holden, MA) slotted a pass through to winger Nick Lynch (Kingston, Jam.) breaking in on goal. Lynch hit a low hard shot from a tough angle, which was pumped home by junior defender Grayson Holland (Sudbury, MA).
Before Amherst could create another scoring chance, Middlebury was on the attack and was awarded a penalty kick for a foul in the box. Middlebury’s Brandon Jackson stepped to the spot for the attempt, but Amherst goalie Jeff Grover (Framingham, MA) made the save, diving to his left.
Less than three minutes later, at the 16:36 mark of the first half, Duker and Downs combined for Amherst’s second goal of the game. Duker lined a low hard shot at Bush, who bobbled the handle, and Downs sprung in to clean up the mess for his third goal of the season.
Fired up heading into halftime with a 2-0 lead, Amherst hoped to weather the effort that Middlebury would undoubtedly emerge with in the second half. Downs and the Jeffs were up for the task, as the captain scored perhaps the goal of the season in the 63rd minute. After turning with the ball on his foot, Downs laced a hard shot bent around an out-stretched Bush to the far upper corner.
Middlebury would not go easily, as they pressured the Amherst defense until the final whistle. With 11:15 showing in regulation, Middlebury’s Stephen Hart beat Grover with a flicked shot in a footrace to a bouncing ball. The shot looked destined for the back of the net, but trickled just wide.
With less than five minutes remaining, the Panthers scored what ended up as a meaningless tally on a set piece. Middlebury’s Nolan Lincoln put home a rebound after Allen Bourdon put his head on the end of a long free kick, and forced an initial save from Grover.
The score was too little, too late, as Amherst closed out the win to remain undefeated at 9-0 (6-0 NESCAC). Middlebury falls to 7-1 (4-1 NESCAC) with the result, to remain in second place in the conference standings. Amherst returns to action next Saturday at Colby for an 11 a.m. match.