Amherst Enters NCAA Tournament for Fifth Straight Season
AMHERST, MA – For the fifth straight year, the Amherst College men’s soccer team is headed to the Division III NCAA Tournament. The Lord Jeffs will take to the road for their First Round game, traveling to Canton, N.Y. and the campus of Saint Lawrence University to play Plattsburgh State University on Saturday afternoon.
Amherst (11-2-3) will face the Plattsburgh (13-4-4), the champions of the 2010 SUNYAC Tournament, on Sandy MacAllaster Field in the second game of the day Saturday. The first matchup of the afternoon will feature the hosts from St. Lawrence against SUNYIT at 11 a.m. Amherst and Plattsburgh will kick off half an hour following the completion of the first game.
The winners of Saturday’s First Round games will play at 1 p.m. on Sunday for the right to advance to the sectionals the following weekend. Tickets for the games will cost $6 for adults, $3 for students with appropriate ID, and $2 for children under 12 years of age. This weekend’s games will have live statistics online and a free webcast, courtesy of the Saint Lawrence sports information department. For directions on accessing the webcast, click here.
The Lord Jeffs, ranked 14th nationally in last week’s NSCAA poll, received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament after falling to Middlebury College 1-0 in the semifinals of the 2010 NESCAC Championship. The Lord Jeffs have lost just two games this season, both times to Middlebury. Amherst is one of four NESCAC teams to make it into the NCAA field along with Middlebury, Williams and Bowdoin. The
Panthers, Ephs and Polar Bears were each selected as host sites for the opening round, and if Amherst and their rivals can advance to the Sectionals, it would mean a sectional weekend with four NESCAC schools at one site.
The Lord Jeffs feature two of the NESCAC’s top scoring players in sophomore forward Spencer Noon (Farmington, CT) and senior midfielder Ian Rothkopf (Harvard, MA). Noon ranks atop the NESCAC table in goals (11) and is tied for first in points (24), while Rothkopf sits tied for second in points (20) and first in the conference in assists (8). The two Amherst players are tied with one another for the NESCAC lead in game-winning goals with four apiece.
Amherst once again features one of the nation’s stingiest defenses, led by junior goalie Lennard Kovacs (Wolfersdorf, Germany). Kovacs has started all 16 of Amherst’s games in 2010, surrendering just eight goals on the year. With a 0.52 goals-against average, Kovacs has posted five clean sheets, and has exited the game in the final minutes to give way to substitutes during another four shutout wins.
For the Jeffs to advance into the Second Round, they will need to get past the Cardinals of Plattsburgh. The Cardinals have been the top team in the SUNYAC all season long, leading the conference in goals (40), assists (35) and points (115), while ranking second in the conference in goals-against (0.67) and first in shutouts (12). Plattsburgh has failed to score on just two occasions this season, and has surrendered more than two goals just once.
A win over Plattsburgh will earn Amherst a game against either St. Lawrence or SUNYIT. The Jeffs and Saints met in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament two years ago, with Amherst winning 1-0 on a 68th minute goal. The Jeffs made a run all the way to the NCAA Final Four that season, and will hope this weekend can kick off a similar run. The Saints, unbeaten in their last 16 games, are led by sophomore forward Sam DiMello from nearby Easthampton, Mass. DiMello has scored eight goals with eight assists for 24 points this season.
SUNYIT and Amherst have never played in the NCAA Tournament before, and the Wildcats are making their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the program’s first NEAC Championship last weekend. The Wildcats earned an automatic bid to the NCAAs with a penalty kick win over Penn State-Harrisburg in the NEAC title game. Three players have scored six or more goals this season for SUNYIT, with Diego Montaleza leading all SUNYIT scorers with 20 points on the year.