Amherst Defeats Bowdoin in Double-Overtime Thriller, 2-1

Contact: Mike O'Brien

BOX SCORE

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AMHERST, Mass. – The top-seeded and second-ranked Amherst men’s soccer team won a 2-1 double-overtime thriller against fifth-seeded Bowdoin in NESCAC Semifinal action on Saturday at Hitchcock Field.

First-year Justin Aoyama scored in the closing minutes of the second overtime to give Amherst (14-0-2) the win. The Jeffs go for their third-straight NESCAC title tomorrow afternoon in a rematch of last year’s final against Williams beginning at 12 p.m. With the loss, Bowdoin’s season comes to an end with an 8-4-4 overall mark and 5-3-2 conference record.

Bowdoin came out strong to start the game and maintained possession often in the opening minutes, but couldn’t put together a scoring opportunity.

The Jeffs posted the first threat of the game at the 10 minute mark when sophomore Greg Singer’s shot attempt missed wide. Shortly after, Max Fikke ’14 stood in front of the net and sent one towards the goal but Bowdoin goalkeeper Noah Safian ’17 made a great diving stop.

However, it didn’t take long after for Amherst to get on the board. Following a corner kick from Nico Pascual-Leone ’16, senior forward Ben Norton headed one in to the back right post to give the Jeffs a 1-0 advantage just under 17 minutes of play.

Amherst almost increased their lead in the closing minutes of the first when Elliott Cassutt ’17 sprinted down the field past Polar Bear defenders, but Safian came out of net to grab the ball and prevent a goal.

Within the first 30 seconds of the second half, Bowdoin’s Sam White ’15 had an opportunity to tie the game but lost his footing and couldn’t connect on what would have been a great scoring chance.

At the 38 minute mark, a corner from Fikke went to Norton whose header towards net was blocked by a Polar Bears defender, protecting a potential score.

Bowdoin eventually tied the game at the 56th minute. The first attempt was blocked by its own player in front of the net but the second chance from Matt Dias Costa ’17 was good as he found the back right post.

The Jeffs had a couple great opportunities in the closing minutes of regulation but couldn’t put the game away. A corner from Pascual-Leone at the 82nd minute reached Norton who was near the post on the opposite side, but his shot was saved by Safian. A couple minutes later, Mikey Hoeksema ’16 had a chance to give the Jeffs the lead when his header was saved.

In the first overtime, Bowdoin looked like it was on its way to a NESCAC final when Thomas Henshall ’15 made some nifty moves across the box and had a wide open net staring in front of him. However, Amherst goalkeeper Thomas Bull ’16 came out of nowhere to make the stop and keep the Jeffs in the game.

At the 106th minute of the second overtime, Amherst pulled away on a terrific game-winner by Aoyama as the first-year snuck the ball into the right side of the post past a diving Safian.

The Jeffs held a 15-8 advantage in shots and 12-9 edge in corner kicks. Bull made one stop between the posts for the Jeffs and Safian made five for the Polar Bears.

Amherst returns to the field tomorrow at 12 p.m. for the NESCAC Championship against third-seed Williams.