Jeffs Tame Polar Bears, 4-1

Contact: Matthew Hart

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AMHERST, Mass. – Wet conditions and a shoeless co-captain could not hold back the Amherst College women’s soccer team on Senior Day, as the Lord Jeffs pulled away for a 4-1 victory over NESCAC rival Bowdoin at Hitchcock Field. Amherst improved to 9-1-1 (6-1-1 NESCAC) with the win, while the Polar Bears fell to 9-3-0 (5-3-0 NESCAC).

Kate Sisk ’14 and Meghan Kim ’16 led the way for Amherst, each tallying a goal and an assist. Juniors Amanda Brisco and Sarah Duffy also scored for the Jeffs, while Kathryn Nathan ’13 notched her league-leading eighth assist. Audrey Phillips ’16 sent in the lone Bowdoin goal on a helper from Alexa Yurick ’15 midway through the second half.

Before the match, Amherst honored its five seniors, Drew Douglas-Steele, Bridget Keller, Emily Little, Nathan, and Sandy Shepherd. Teammates, coaches, and fans celebrated the contributions of the group, all of whom were joined on the field by their parents. Posting a 49-13-4 overall record over the past four years, the Jeffs’ class of 2013 is among the winningest in school history, advancing to three straight NESCAC Championship games, two NCAA tournaments, and capturing a league title during 2011’s record-setting 20-1-0 season.

Battling a slippery pitch on Sunday, Bowdoin found the first strong opportunity just two minutes in on a cross from Yurick on which Phillips got a good foot, but her shot was within the reach of a diving Holly Burwick ’16.

Amherst immediately answered – and then some — when Nathan found space on the right side and sent a swift cross into the box for her co-captain, Sisk. The junior controlled the pass then blasted a hard left past the diving keeper and into the top right corner for a 1-0 Jeff lead.

Amherst kept up the pressure with the ball rarely leaving Bowdoin’s half in the opening 15 minutes. The Jeffs nearly added to the lead when Mel Stier ’15 found Duffy with a well-placed header, but Bowdoin goalie Bridget McCarthy ’16 made a nice save on her shot.

Looking for another tally in the 18th, Duffy found Sisk at the top of the box with a cross from the right side, but the junior’s hard shot flew wide right.

Bowdoin responded off of a corner moments later, when Kiersten Turner ’16 took a shot at the Amherst net, but Shepherd, guarding the right post, headed away the attempt.

Subbing in a new trio of forwards midway through the half, the Jeffs found a strong chance in the 35th when Kim took a through ball from Brisco on the right side and fired a hard cross into the box. But Bowdoin was able to clear the attempt.

Four minutes later, however, Kim gave Amherst some breathing room, corralling a loose ball on the left side of the box and blasting it past McCarthy for the rookie standout’s second goal in as many days.

Amanda Kinneston ’15 nearly drew Bowdoin within one in the 43rd as she beat Shepherd with some nifty footwork, but Burwick made another nice save, diving to control the spinning shot from the left side and keep the Amherst lead at 2-0 heading into halftime.

Immediately challenging the Jeff lead, Bowdoin started the second period with a strong attempt when Jamie Hofstetter ’16 found space for a long run down the right side then sent a cross to Morgan Woodhouse ’14 at the top of the box, but her blast flew high of the Amherst net.

Amherst looked for insurance in the 55th minute when Sisk found Hannah Cooper ’14 in a one-on-one matchup on the left side of the box. With some slick footwork, Cooper cleared space for a hard left but the shot flew just wide right of the Bowdoin net.

The Polar Bears nearly scored on the counter, when Phillips sent a bouncing ball into the box. But Burwick battled through a collision to knock the ball away and Amherst’s defenders took care of the rest, clearing the attempt.

Nathan nearly turned in a highlight moments later, blasting a free kick from 10 yards above the box that caromed off the cross bar before McCarthy knocked it away. On Amherst’s next possession, Nathan struck again with better results, lofting a huge cross from the right side to Kim. After a fight for the ball, the rookie collected it near the left post and found a streaking Brisco on the other side of the net for the tap-in and a 3-0 Jeff lead in the 58th.

Amherst nearly scored another two minutes later when Cooper took a shot off the left post that rebounded to Brisco. Still on the ground after diving for Cooper’s attempt, McCarthy made a brilliant save, lunging to her left to control Brisco’s rebound shot.

Bowdoin found their first tally in the 69th minute, when a cross from Yurick found Phillips in space on the left side of the box and she popped it over the fingertips of a leaping Burwick.

Seizing some momentum, the Polar Bears nearly cut Amherst’s lead to one when Phillips got space for a one-on-one with Burwick. She got the ball past the Amherst netminder, looking for Turner on the right side, but the Bowdoin forward was whistled offside.

Shortly thereafter, McCarthy made a diving save of a Cooper header to keep the Polar Bears within striking distance, but it proved to be the final stop of the day for the Bowdoin keeper, as Louise Johnson ’14 took over in goal for her following the play. McCarthy finished with six saves.

In an amazing show of determination, Sisk helped Amherst to a 4-1 cushion in the 78th. After losing her right cleat in a fight for the ball, the junior continued undeterred, collecting possession behind midfield then carrying it deep into the Bowdoin half before finding Duffy for an arcing goal over Johnson.

Bowdoin nearly found a late tally in the 88th when Yurick’s corner caromed out to defender Abby Einwag ’15, who blasted a hard shot from above the box into the arms of Burwick. The Amherst keeper turned in another strong performance, making eight saves in the winning effort and proving to be the difference as Amherst held just a 21-17 shot advantage over the Polar Bears.

With just two conference matches remaining, the win pulls Amherst into a tie with Middlebury for second place in the NESCAC standings. The Jeffs return to action on Wednesday night, hosting non-conference foe Keene State in a 7 p.m. contest under the lights at Gooding Field.

BOX SCORE

PHOTO GALLERY (by Megan Robertson '15)

KATE SISK '14 SHOELESS ASSIST