#4 Men's Soccer Battles #9 Wesleyan to Scoreless Double-Overtime Draw

Contact: Ben Badua

Lennard Kovacs '12 made four saves en route to his 30th career shutout.

AMHERST, Mass. – Senior goalkeeper Lennard Kovacs (Wolfersdorf, Germany) made four saves en route to his 30th career shutout as the fourth-ranked Amherst men’s soccer team earned a 0-0 double overtime draw with #9 Wesleyan on Hitchcock Field.

Now 11-0-2 on the year with a 7-0-2 league ledger, Amherst improved to 5-4-6 against the Cardinals since 2000 in what has been an extremely competitive rivalry. Wesleyan moved to 10-0-3 on the year (7-0-2 NESCAC) with the tie and can clinch the NESCAC Championship’s top seed with a win against Trinity on Wednesday, Oct. 26. Eight of the team’s past 14 meetings have now required overtime, with four of the past nine resulting in a 0-0 draw.

Scoreless through the first seven minutes, Noon generated the game’s first scoring chance at 8:15, receiving the ball in the box before firing a low shot that prompted an Adam Purdy ’13 save.

With a disciplined Amherst backline holding the Wesleyan attack at bay despite giving up several early corners, junior Casey McNamara (Montclair, N.J.) nearly put Amherst on the board at 20:25, pushing a volley to the back post just wide of the net.

McNamara again tested Purdy in the 28th minute, putting a hard, rising shot on goal, but Weslayan’s junior netminder got both hands on the try to keep it scoreless. Winning a free-kick on the left side of the attacking third, Sam Kaplan ’12 (Brunswick, Maine) sent a cross to the far post, finding a charging Ben Norton (Denver, Colo.), but the sophomore headed the pass into the side of the netting at 32:27, narrowly missing an opportunity to put the Jeffs on top.

With just over six minutes remaining in the half, Wesleyan switched fields as first-year Greg Shaheen made a long run down the left side. Turning the corner, Shaheen moved toward the six yard box before losing his footing in front of Kovacs, allowing the Amherst defense to clear the threat.

With time winding down in the first 45, Amherst sophomore Julien Aoyama (Narbeth, Pa.) sent a long cross into the box from near midfield, but Alejandro Sucre ’13 (Caracas, Venezuela) just missed getting a head on the pass to redirect it toward goal, as the teams headed into halftime deadlocked at 0-0.

Hoping to break through, Amherst registered three shots over the first five minutes of the second. Dribbling just outside of the 18, sophomore Max Fikke ’14 (New York, N.Y.) ripped a low shot that got blocked down the Cardinal defense. Tracking down the rebound near the right post, Sucre chipped the ball over Purdy, but first-year Ben Bratt headed the would be goal over the bar to keep Amherst off the board.

Pushing forward with just over 34 minutes remaining in regulation, Wesleyan junior Rory O’Neill found Noah Schlesinger ’13 on the right side of the 18. Looking to goal, Schlesinger ripped a hard shot that veered high and wide left as both squads continued to search for the contest’s first tally.

Continuing to apply pressure, Amherst outshot Wesleyan 3-1 over the next 10 minutes of action. Getting a free-kick at midfield with under 14 minutes remaining, Kaplan played a long ball to Sucre, who headed it toward goal, but Purdy smothered the try to keep Wesleyan level.

Still scoreless with under four minutes remaining, junior Walter Rodriguez found a streaking Evan Hazelett inside the 18, but the forward pushed the shot just wide left of the Amherst goal. Moments later Steve Paresi ’12 rattled the crossbar at 2:25 before Chris Kuehn ’13 sent a shot just high with 1:04 left on the clock, sending the game into a first sudden-victory overtime period.

After registering the first extra session’s shot off a Kaplan corner, Amherst surrendered a pair of tries on goal later in the frame, but Kovacs rose to the challenge, making a pair of stops to force a second overtime. Wesleyan would record two more shots during the final period, but could not put it on net as the game ended in a 0-0 tie.

Amherst finished with a 19-13 shot advantage and a 4-3 edge in corners. Purdy made seven saves, while Kovacs collected four stops.

The Lord Jeffs close out the regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 22 against Connecticut College.