Jeffs Fall to York in Penalty Kicks 5-4 After Scorless Tie
The Jeffs end the season with a 15-2-1 record after falling
MIDDLEBURY, VT – The Amherst College men’s soccer team faced York (Pa.) this afternoon in the NCAA Sectional Round of 16 with a bid to the national quarterfinals on the line. In the day’s first game, host Middlebury defeated NESCAC foe Williams College 3-0 to advance to tomorrow’s game. After a scoreless 110 minutes, York advanced 5-4 on penalty kicks
The game kicked off just a few minutes after the scheduled 1:30 p.m. time, as the sun shown brightly over the turf field. Amherst held the majority of the possession in the first few minutes, and was awarded a set of corner kicks to be taken by junior Nick Lynch (Kingston, Jamaica).
In the sixth minute, senior tri-captain Ryan O’Donnell (Belchertown, MA) turned under pressure in the middle of the field, and broke in alone on Spartan goal keeper Kyle Marks. O’Donnell was tracked down at the top of the goal box just as he hit a shot, which Marks controlled without trouble.
The Spartans responded to Amherst’s early pressure, and capped an impressive offensive set with a rocket shot from midfielder Lucas Emil. Fortunately for Jeff goalkeeper Jeff Grover (Framingham, MA), the shot was drilled cleanly into his hands for a routine save.
Play evened out as the half continued with York looking increasingly dangerous in transition play. The Amherst defense would bend, but not break with junior back Rory O’Connor (West Boylston, MA) making some great tackles.
While neither team had posed a significant threat to break the scoreless tie, the tension in the game was building as each side had seen success on the offensive front all season. With just under 10 minutes to play in the first half, York forward Jason Mancuso went airborne in front of the Amherst goal, but his header sailed over the crossbar.
The final seconds ticked off the clock in the first half with Grover holding the ball at his feet. At the half, Amherst held a 5-1 edge in corner kicks, but each team had four shots on goal.
In the first ten minutes of the second half, the game got increasingly physical, with Amherst getting the best scoring chance of the game with 30 minutes remaining. O’Connor floated in a long free kick from just in front of the scorer’s table, where first-year Ian Rothkopf (Harvard, MA) nearly flicked home a score.
Neither side mounted a significant scoring chance through the middle of the second frame, and with 10 minutes remaining in regulation the score stood at 0-0. Amherst brought junior striker Jake Duker (Newton, MA) in off the bench for a boost to the attack, hoping to steal a game-winner.
Late in regulation, York held a 14-6 edge in shots, but just a 4-2 advantage in shots on goal. Neither team could find a game-winner before the final whistle blew, sending the game into a first overtime period.
At this point in the game, any goal would be an immediate game-winner, propelling one team into the national quarterfinal round, and ending another’s season. Just one minute into the first overtime frame, Duker had a golden opportunity as senior tri-captain John Kneeland (Holden, MA) headed a clearance back into danger. Duker flicked the ball on frame, but Marks was there for his third save of the game.
The Spartans almost finished the game on a spectacular shot in the 94th minute from Javier Perez. After a cross was headed to the top of the six yard box, Perez flicked a half-bicycle kick just wide of the far post.
First-year defender Chris Skayne (Acton, MA) made a game-saving slide-tackle on York’s Jon Borts inside of 4 yards to prevent a sure scoring chance. The Jeffs responded with a transition attack, resulting in a corner with one minute remaining. Amherst was unable to get a shot off the kick, and time ran out on the first overtime period.
After 100 scoreless minutes, the game had just ten minutes to decide itself before heading for penalty kicks. Thirty-five seconds into the second overtime, Amherst had another corner kick to set-up another scoring chance. Senior Kevin Dolan (Peabody, MA) made a hard run to the near post, but couldn’t meet the ball, and ended up with an injury.
Junior Grayson Holland (Sudbury, MA) played solidly in the second overtime, single-handedly stopping an odd-man rush for the Spartans and winning a free kick after gaining possession.
With two minutes remaining in the second overtime, Emil nearly found the game-winner on a strike from 35 yards. The ball rattled the far post after beating a diving Grover, only to bounce directly to the Amherst keeper lying on the ground.
The game ended scoreless, and headed to a penalty shootout. In the shootout York brought in Ryan Hock to play goalie. Hock paid dividends in the first round against Kneeland, saving his shot to the right side. The next seven penalties were converted, to leave York leading 4-3 after four full rounds.
In the fifth round, Duker converted his kick off the inside of the right post to keep Amherst alive at 4-4, with one York player to shoot. That shooter was junior defender Evan Sheffey, who stepped up and converted the kick for the game-winner.
The result ends Amherst’s season at 15-2-1, while York advances with a 20-2-1 mark. The Spartans will face Middlebury College tomorrow at 1:00 p.m. for a chance to advance to the national semifinals.
Shootout Results (York Advances 5-4 on penalties)
Round 1: Amherst - # 7 John Kneeland – Result: Saved
York - #8 Jon Ports – Result: Converted
Round 2: Amherst - # 14 Rory O’Connor – Result: Converted
York - #11 Jason Mancuso – Result: Converted
Round 3: Amherst - #2 Joe Addison –Result: Converted
York - #17 Charlie Barrett – Result: Converted
Round 4: Amherst - #16 Ryan O’Donnell – Result: Converted
York - #10 Matt Beale – Results: Converted
Round 5: Amherst - #20 Jake Duker – Result: Converted
York - #4 Evan Scheffey – Result: Converted