Athletics

Noon's Record-Setting Day Not Enough as Jeffs Fall to Stevens in NCAA Sectional Semifinals

Contact: Ben Badua

Noon
Spencer Noon '13 became the program's all-time leading scorer with his goal in the 38th minute.

AMHERST, Mass. - Spencer Noon ’13 (Farmington, Conn.) netted his 35th career goal to become the program’s all-time leading scorer but the fourth-ranked Amherst men’s soccer team dropped a tough 2-1 decision to No. 14 Stevens Institute of Technology in the NCAA Sectional Semifinals.

Closing out the season with a 16-2-2 overall mark, Amherst falls to 15-9-6 all-time in NCAA Tournament play while the Ducks extended their unbeaten streak to 18, moving to 18-2-1 on the year and advancing to tomorrow’s Sectional Final against Montclair State University.

With the loss, Amherst will bid farewell to an accomplished senior class that posted a 56-13-10 record through four successful seasons in the Pioneer Valley. As a group, Lennard Kovacs (Wolfersdorf, Germany), Thebe Tsatsimpe (Johannesburg, S.Africa), Dave Masterman (Needham, Mass.), Sam Kaplan (Brunswick, Maine) and T.J. Kelley (Walnut Creek, Calif.) helped guide the Lord Jeffs to a pair of NESCAC Championships, three trips to the NCAA tournament round of 16 and a berth in the 2008 national semifinal.

Controlling possession for much of the first five minutes, Amherst recorded the game’s first shot on a Brendan Caslin ’14 (Lincoln, Mass.) try that veered wide left. Stevens responded by winning a corner in the eighth minute, with Pete Bednarsky ’12 heading a shot on goal that prompted a Kovacs save. Continuing to apply pressure, Stevens again texted Kovacs when Curtis Stecyk ’14 headed a Zach Bowman ’12 free-kick into the senior keeper’s arms at 21:25.

Moving into the attacking third in the 21st minute, Amherst junior Chris Lerner (Canton, Mass.) played a cross from the left side toward the back post in search of Alejandro Sucre (Caracas, Venezuela) but the charging midfielder just missed getting a foot on the pass to redirect it toward goal.

Winning a corner with 20:35 left in the first, Lerner corralled a loose ball on the right side before once again looking for Alejandro Sucre on the opposite post. This time getting a foot on it, the Caracas, Venezuela native ripped a shot just wide left, narrowly missing a chance to put Amherst on the board. Less than a minute later, Sucre headed another ball toward net but Stevens sophomore keeper Paul Killian got a hand on the try to keep the Ducks level.

Hoping to change the momentum, Stevens won a pair of corners in the 37th minute but a disciplined Amherst backline cleared both set pieces without allowing a shot to keep it scoreless.

Pushing forward less than a minute later, Amherst played a cross into the box in search of the game’s first tally. After Alejandro Sucre’s initial touch, Noon headed his record-setting marker into the right side of the Stevens net. With 15 goals and 23 points on the year, Noon upped his career tally to 35 and 83, respectively, becoming the school’s all-time leader in both categories.

Looking to quickly respond, the Ducks switched fields in the 40th minute. Tracking down a loose ball just above the 18, Stecyk ripped a hard, rising shot into the upper right corner past a diving Kovacs to suddenly pull the Ducks even heading into the intermission.

Wasting no time getting on the board in the second, Stecyk struck again, dribbling past a pair of Amherst defenders before firing a low tracer into the left corner for his second tally of the afternoon, putting Stevens up 2-1 at 48:38.

Needing to answer, Amherst played the ball into the 18-yard box in the 50th minute but Federico Sucre ’13 (Caracas, Venezuela) footed a shot just over the bar, missing a chance to pull the Jeffs even. Earning a corner from the near flag minutes later, Tsatsimpe found the head of Federico Sucre on the back post but the junior flicked the ball wide right to keep it at 2-1.

Playing on the right side with under 30 to play, first-year Milton Rico (Philadelphia, Pa.) moved toward the middle of the box before chipping another pass to Federico Sucre. Heading it toward net, the junior nearly pulled Amherst level but Killian made a sprawling save, punching it over the crossbar to preserve the Ducks’ one-goal margin.

With under 20 minutes to go, Lerner played a long throw into Alejandro Sucre who touched it toward the back post. Redirecting it to net, sophomore Ben Norton (Denver, Colo.) headed it to the right side of goal but Killian made a nice diving save to his left to keep the surging Jeff attack at bay.

Nearly seven minutes later Amherst again tested Killian when Julian Aoyama ’14 (Narbeth, Pa.) headed a low try off a Caslin cross prompting another diving stop. Continuing to go on the offensive in search of the equalizer, the Jeffs registered three more shots over the next five minutes but could not put a try on target.

With a charging Aoyama in behind the Stevens defense with under seven and a half to play, Killian came off his line, smothering the Amherst threat before the sophomore could foot it toward goal. Desperately trying to tie the game, the Jeffs recorded seven more shots in the waning moments of regulation but Killian and the Stevens backline held steady, keeping everything in front to escape with a 2-1 win.

Amherst finished with a decisive 21-6 shot advantage and an 8-5 edge in corners. Kovacs, who wraps up a decorated career in Purple and White with a 52-11-10 overall record and 32 shutouts, had three saves in the loss. Killian collected seven stops en route to his 15th win of the season.

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