Amherst Drops Heartbreaker to Wheaton, 2-1

Kyla Woodhouse
First-year Kyla Woodhouse scored her first collegiate goal late in the second half to give Amherst a 1-0 lead.

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College women’s soccer team held a 1-0 lead over New England powerhouse Wheaton College late in the second half, but the Lyons stormed back to score a pair of goals in the final 10 minutes and hang on for the 2-1 victory. Amherst falls to 1-4-2 with the loss, while Wheaton remains unbeaten at 9-0-1.

Both teams’ offenses came out of the gate slowly, but at the 32-minute mark the Jeffs and Lyons each picked up their play. First-year Melida Alvarez, Wheaton’s leading goal-scorer, received a pass from fellow rookie Emily Hough and dribbled to the 18-yard line. With Amherst keeper Lili Ferguson (Winnetka, IL) forced to come off her line, Alvarez tried to rifle a shot over her head, but Ferguson jumped up to make a clean grab.

Less than one minute later, a Wheaton free kick sailed into the Jeffs’ box and deflected off an Amherst defender toward the goal, as Ferguson sprawled out for a big save. The Lyons kept the pressure on, as Alvarez got free for another hard shot, but Ferguson was once again in the right location.

Amherst came right back with a prime scoring chance, as junior Natalie Ferraiolo (Palo Alto, CA) sent a ball through to junior Stephanie Yesnik (Arlington, VA), whose shot rolled just inches wide of the goal. The Lyons countered when Hough received a long pass and ripped another hard shot on goal, but Ferguson was just barely able to get a hand on the ball, as she punched it over the net to once again keep Amherst in the game.

Ferguson gave the Jeffs some momentum, and just one minute later senior tri-captain Heather Nowak (New Haven, CT) set up an Amherst corner kick. Nowak placed her kick beautifully, but junior Alanna Darling (Charlton, MA) sent a header high and wide to end the threat.

After a 12-minute offensive drought for both teams, Wheaton looked as though it was going to score the first goal of the night when first-year Barrie Lindsay won a 50-50 ball deep in the Amherst zone, took one dribble toward the goal and tried sending her shot to the far post. Ferguson continued her brilliant game by coming up with yet another impressive save, this time dropping to her left side to smother the ball.

The final scoring threat of the first half came when an Amherst foul gave the Lyons a free kick from 25 yards out. The Jeffs set up a defensive wall that Wheaton sophomore Lindsey McManus was able to clear with her shot, but the ball was placed too far to the left and hit the side of the net, as the teams headed into halftime in a 0-0 deadlock. The Lyons and Jeffs each had plenty of scoring chances, as Wheaton out-shot Amherst by a nine to six margin.

A Wheaton yellow card gave Amherst a free kick from 30 yards out after 13 minutes of second-half action. The Lyons’ defense cleared the ball away easily, but sophomore Kathy Nolan (Palo Alto, CA) sent it right back in, putting a hard shot high and to the near post of the goal, but the ball missed just high and wide. The Jeffs were awarded another free kick midway through the half, but sophomore Meg Murphy (Springfield, MA) could not put her shot on net.

Wheaton earned a pair of corner kicks in the 73rd minute, but the first was punched away by Ferguson and the second was kicked straight out of bounds. With 10:30 remaining in regulation, Yesnik managed to clear the ball away from a crowded area and to the feet of first-year Kyla Woodhouse (Topsham, ME), who used a soft touch to loft the ball over the head of Wheaton keeper Elana Cockburn, giving Amherst a 1-0 lead with only 10:09 remaining on the clock.

The Lyons came right back with a goal of their own when Lindsay rolled a soft shot to Ferguson’s left, as the ball was placed perfectly to the far post and just past the outstretched arms of the Amherst goalie, with senior Katelyn Brack picking up the assist.

Less than three minutes later, Ferguson was forced to rush out to the 18-yard line and challenge a loose ball, but Alvarez just barely beat her to the punch and set up a streaking Lindsay, who pounded a shot into the back of the net to silence the rowdy Amherst crowd. The Jeffs played hard to the final whistle, but Wheaton held on for the 2-1 win.

The Jeffs out-shot the Lyons 19 to 16 on the night, while earning 10 corner kicks compared to Wheaton’s three. Ferguson made seven saves, several of the spectacular variety, while Kronenberg stopped three shots.