Jeffs Win at Wesleyan For First Time Since 2002, 2-1

A. Sucre
Alejandro Sucre had a goal and an assist
in the win at Wesleyan.

MIDDLETOWN, CT – The Amherst College men’s soccer team traveled to the campus of Wesleyan University this afternoon to take on their archrivals in Little Three action. Amherst rallied from a goal down for a 2-1 win, picking up a victory at Jackson Field for the first time since 2002.

The first scoring chance of the game for either team came with just under 17 minutes remaining in the first half. Off a driven service by Spencer Noon (Farmington, CT), Alejandro Sucre (Caracas, Venezuela) flicked a glancing header on a near post run. The ball bounced back to senior quad-captain Ian Rothkopf (Harvard, MA), but his first time shot missed just wide of the left post.

With 90 seconds remaining in the first half, Max Fikke (New York, NY) came off the bench to set up the closest scoring chance of the frame. His long throw was knocked down in a crowd, allowing Chris Lerner (Canton, MA) to run onto a bouncing ball at the top of the Wesleyan 18-yard box. Lerner’s right-footed strike looked destined for the right upper corner, but Cardinal keeper Adam Purdy pushed the shot over the net at full extension.

In the 54th minute, Chris Skayne (Boxborough, MA) sent James Mooney (Princeton, NJ) free down the right side of the box. His cross drifted into over Purdy’s head, but the Cardinal keeper once again pushed the ball over the bar for an Amherst corner. On the ensuing corner, Jelani Rooks (Princeton, NJ) volleyed a ball back off the ground and over a diving Purdy. A Wesleyan defender backed up his goalie though, clearing the ball off the line to keep the game scoreless.

Mooney sent an in-swinging cross from the right wing for Rothkopf at the penalty kick spot with 30 minutes to play, but the 6’5” central midfielder lifted his full volley over the goal without challenging Purdy. Moments later, Mooney’s through ball to Rooks was called to a halt by an offside whistle.

With 26:03 remaining in the second half, Wesleyan broke the scoreless deadlock with one of the Cardinals’ finest goals of the year. After a ball was played in from the left midfield, Evan Hazelett popped a header backwards for Rory O’Neill. The ball took one high bounce, but O’Neill let it fall all the way to his right foot before unleashing a dipping shot over an outstretched Lennard Kovacs (Wolfersdorf, Germany) to put the hosts up 1-0.

Wesleyan’s lead held for just 49 seconds, before Mooney set up Sucre with a perfectly weighted cross. Sucre took one touch, and left no doubt before crushing home a score from just six yards out.

Noon struck again for Amherst just over 10 minutes later, putting the Jeffs up 2-1. Rothkopf played a service from the left side of the field, and Sucre out-jumped Purdy for the ball, knocking a header back for Noon. His first touch settled the ball, before he rattled home a score off a Wesleyan defender diving in for a block. Both Rothkopf and Sucre picked up assists on Noon’s 10th score of the season.

With 11 minutes remaining, Wesleyan’s Michael McCarthy finished a breakaway with a soft touch underneath a sprawling Kovacs, but Sam Kaplan (Brunswick, ME) recovered to the goal line to clear the ball just before it crossed for an equalizer.

In the final portion of the game, the Cardinals pushed numbers forward as Amherst packed into its defensive third to preserve the win. Kovacs finished with a pair of saves and countless strong plays to take ahold of services into the box. Purdy made five saves in the loss for the Cardinals. Amherst will travel to face Framingham State tomorrow at 2 p.m. in the Jeffs non-conference season finale.