Athletics

Amherst Advances to NCAA Second Round on Penalty Kicks

Kovacs
First-year goalkeeper Lennard Kovacs made a pair of saves in the penalty kick session to keep Amherst's season alive.
AMHERST, MA – With the Amherst College and Western New England College men’s soccer teams tied at 0-0 after 90 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime, first-year goalkeeper Lennard Kovacs made a pair of saves in the penalty kick session to lead the Lord Jeffs into the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Western New England ended Amherst’s 2006 season with a 1-0 win on Hitchcock Field in the NCAA Tournament, with the Jeffs getting vengeance with a 3-2 win on Gooding Field a year ago in the tournament’s second round. With Amherst advancing once again this time around, the Jeffs will host Saint Lawrence University—3-2 winners over MIT earlier in the day—Sunday at 1 p.m. on Hitchcock Field.

With the Lord Jeffs and Golden Bears meeting in the postseason for a third consecutive year, it was no surprise that the third meeting got off to a heated start. Although the first half featured physical play and several scoring opportunities, neither team managed to put a shot on goal. Amherst held a slim advantage in shots (3-1), fouls (4-3) and corner kicks (2-0), but neither goalkeeper was forced to make a save.

Amherst’s third corner attempt came nine minutes into the second half, but the hosts still could not test junior goalkeeper Kyle Bak with a shot. WNEC had a prime opportunity when a free kick from just outside the box on the right side popped up in the air, causing Kovacs to jump up and grab the ball. A scuffle ensued in the box and the game was heightened to a new sense of intensity and urgency with 20 minutes remaining in regulation.

Senior Nick Lynch responded for Amherst when he settled a ball with his back to the goal, turned and ripped a hard shot from 25 yards out that just missed high and wide. The Golden Bears stormed right back and earned a corner kick, but Kovacs again came up with the ball.

With neither team able to get on the scoreboard, the Jeffs and Golden Bears headed into overtime to add a new twist to the rivalry. The visitors came out strong to earn a throw-in deep in the Amherst zone, but the Jeffs pushed right back and brought their fans to life with a deep throw-in of their own. The ball made its way to Lynch, who mis-hit his one-timer to end the threat.

With time winding down in the first extra frame, Dan Hare played the ball to the right corner to Justin Martins, whose cross skipped off the foot of an Amherst defender and nearly hit the side netting. WNEC followed with a pair of corner kicks but could not finish, as the teams headed into a second overtime.

With another scoreless frame, the game headed into penalty kicks with Amherst holding a 7-6 edge in shots and a 5-4 advantage in corners. Senior quad-captain Dale Totman was up first for either team, but his attempt was smothered by Kovacs. Amherst’s Matt Lewis responded by converting his attempt to give the hosts an early 1-0 edge.

The teams traded conversions until 3-2 in favor of the Jeffs, when Kovacs came up huge for the second time by making another save. Amherst senior Joe Addison was given a chance to seal the deal by putting his team ahead 4-2, and he did just that by sneaking a shot past Bak and to the back of the goal.

The Golden Bears’ impressive season comes to an end at 16-1-6, while Amherst moves to 12-3-3 and will take on Saint Lawrence (13-6-1) less than 24 hours after its dramatic win. The Knights’ 3-2 win over MIT came in come-from-behind fashion, as they quickly erased a 2-0 deficit in the second half by scoring three unanswered goals.

BOX SCORE

Penalty Kick Shootout (Amherst advances, 4-2)
1. Dale Totman (WNEC) – SAVED
2.  Matt Lewis (Amherst) – GOOD
3. Jason Sabia (WNEC) – GOOD
4. Jake Duker (Amherst) – GOOD
5. Dan Hare (WNEC) – GOOD
6. Rory O’Connor (Amherst) – GOOD
7. Marco Gomes (WNEC) – SAVED
8. Joe Addison (Amherst) – GOOD