No. 2 Amherst Advances to NESCAC Semifinals with 2-0 Win Over No. 7 Wesleyan

Jae Heo
Jae Heo scored the game-winner less than four
minutes into the game against Wesleyan.

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men’s soccer team kicked of the 2008 NESCAC Championship Tournament this afternoon with a quarterfinal match-up against the visiting Wesleyan University Cardinals. The 2nd-seeded Lord Jeffs scored a pair of goals in the first half, and held on for a 2-0 win over No. 7 Wesleyan to advance to next weekend’s conference semifinals.

Less than four minutes into the first half of action, Amherst scored after a secondary cross after a corner kick. Senior Nick Lynch (Kingston, Jamaica) took the initial corner, but Chris Skayne (Boxborough, MA) played a second cross to first-year Jae Heo (ChangWon, S. Korea) for the goal. Heo hit a full volley at the far post that Cardinal keeper Nigel Stacey (Seattle, WA) could not keep out of the back of the net.

The Cardinals nearly equalized with 25 minutes remaining in the half, as Jacob Mergendoller (Mill Valley, CA) found himself for a free header off a corner kick. Amherst goalie Lennard Kovacs (Wolfersdorf, Germany) made an amazing diving save to his left to keep the Lord Jeffs up 1-0.
Late in the first half, Amherst put pressure on the Wesleyan defense. The Lord Jeffs were rewarded after sophomore Ian Rothkopf (Harvard, MA) found the end of a corner kick with his head. Junior Mark Crane (Cambridge, MA) had a shot saved after Rothkopf’s header, before senior quad-captain Grayson Holland (Sudbury, MA) pumped in the rebound from a yard out.

At the break, Amherst held a 10-6 advantage in shots and a commanding 6-1 edge in shots on goal.

Play early in the second half grew physical, as a trio of yellow cards was dished out in the first 16 minutes. Wesleyan had a close call turned away by Amherst senior defender Rory O’Connor (West Boylston, MA). After a quick free kick to the back post, O’Connor beat a Cardinal winger to ball to clear it out of harm’s way.

With seven minutes remaining in the second half, the Cardinals looked destined to cut into the Amherst advantage when Reuben Johnson (Palm Beach, MA) was alone on the goal line. The traveling Cardinal faithful was silenced when Johnson pushed his one-touch shot wide of the far post.

Time ran out for the Cardinals, as Amherst held on for a 2-0 win. The Lord Jeffs will travel to top-seed and host Middlebury College next Saturday, where they will face Trinity College in semifinal action. Game time will be set on Monday afternoon and posted on both the Amherst and NESCAC websites.