Wirz, Jeffs Throttle Lynx
Contact: Matthew Hart
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Gabriel Wirz ’15 notched a pair of goals and eight other Lord Jeffs factored into the scoring as the second-ranked Amherst College men’s soccer team raced to a 6-0 non-conference victory over Lesley University Tuesday night. The undefeated Jeffs controlled play from whistle to whistle, tallying five first half goals and outshooting the Lynx, 18-6.
Amherst improved to 8-0-0 with the win, marking the second consecutive season in which Justin Serpone’s squad has won its opening eight games. The Lynx fell to 6-3-2 with the setback.
The Jeffs dominated possession from the start, limiting the Lynx to only three shots in the first half. After a few missed chances early, Wirz put Amherst on the board in the eighth minute, tallying his first collegiate goal on a low shot following a Jeff free kick. Seven minutes later, Spencer Noon ’13 scored for the sixth time this season, finishing off a well-placed cross from James Mooney ’13 into the top left corner.
Lesley managed a few early chances, including a shot in the 20th minute by all-time scoring leader Ari Sinanis ’13 that found the hands of Jeff keeper Thomas Bull ’16. The Amherst defense would then permit no other attempts before the half, allowing the Jeff attackers to put the game out of reach.
The next Amherst strike came in the 22nd minute, when Jae Heo ’14 found Wirz for his second of the night off a Ben Norton ’14 corner. With the comfortable lead allowing Serpone to open the lines, play settled down for the next 15 minutes, with Lesley’s Nigel Leahy ’13 saving the lone shot during the span, an attempt from Amherst’s Max Fikke ’14 in the 34th minute.
The Jeffs eventually pushed through again, padding their lead twice during a five-minute stretch before intermission. Both goals came off of corners, the first in the 37th minute when a Milton Rico ’15 boot found Julien Aoyama ’14 for a rocket from the left side that struck the crossbar before finding the Lesley net. It was Aoyama’s third tally of the season and second in as many matches.
Finally, Nico Pascual-Leone ’16 wrapped Amherst’s first half scoring in the 42nd with perhaps the game’s most dramatic goal. Mike Hoeksema ’15 sent in a corner from the right side and the Jeff rookie’s acrobatic header put Amherst up 5-0 heading into halftime. The score marked the first of Pascual-Leone’s collegiate career, while Hoeksema moved into the team lead with his fifth assist of the year.
Amherst proved its depth in the second half, yielding just another trio of Lesley shots. Matt Tower ’15 took over in goal and made an impact quickly with a nice save off of a header from the Lynx’s Nick Mattox ’13 less than two minutes into the period.
After numerous chances earlier in the half, the Jeffs tacked on their final tally in the 65th minute on a series once again started by a Hoeksema corner. This time it was Bubba Van Wie ’15 finding the back of the net as he beat new Lesley keeper Chase Donley ’16 for an unassisted score, the Amherst sophomore’s second goal of the season.
Things turned physical late, with several fouls called both ways in the game’s final 20 minutes, including an Amherst yellow card. The Lynx managed a last attempt in the 85th minute, but again Tower was up to the task, saving a shot from Lesley’s Chris Hunt ’16.
Leahy did his best to stop the Amherst first half onslaught, recording three saves during his period of work. The Jeff defense, meanwhile, owned the outside, permitting no Lesley corners until a pair of attempts in the game’s final five minutes. Amherst’s offense earned a whopping 15 corners on the night.
The Jeffs won’t have long to enjoy the lopsided victory, however, as they prepare to host archrival Williams on Saturday. It was the Ephs who halted Amherst’s perfect start at eight games a year ago with a scoreless double-overtime tie in Williamstown on Oct. 9, 2011, a fact which only fuels the buildup to Saturday’s contest. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. from Hitchcock Field.