Amherst Quartet Earn All-NESCAC Honors
Contact: Matthew Hart
SOUTH HADLEY, Mass. – For the second year in a row, four members of the Amherst College women’s soccer team earned All-NESCAC recognition as the conference released its annual awards Thursday. As in 2011, a trio of Lord Jeffs earned spots on the league’s First Team, with forward Amanda Brisco ’14, midfielder Kathryn Nathan ’13 and defender Sandy Shepherd ’13 each receiving the honor. One of just three sophomores to be recognized, defender Maya Jackson-Gibson ’15 joined the list as a second-team selection.
Brisco has been one of the league’s dominant forwards all season, tying Player of the Year Laura Kurash of Wesleyan for the NESCAC lead with 22 total points as she ranks among the conference’s top five in both goals (8) and assists (6).
The first-team nod is Brisco’s first after the Houston native earned second-team honors a year ago and was named the conference’s Rookie of the Year in 2010. She has been at her best in the postseason, striking for three of Amherst’s four goals in the NESCAC playoffs. The junior was also a force early in the fall, posting a pair of goals and three assists as Amherst outscored opponents 14-0 over its first four matches.
Nathan, meanwhile, adds her first-team selection to an already-decorated career in Purple and White. Last year’s conference co-Player of the Year, the midfielder was a D3Soccer.com Second-Team All-American in 2011 as well as a first-team ECAC All-New England pick.
After her breakout junior year, Nathan has continued to general the Jeff offense as a senior co-captain, ranking just behind Brisco and Kurash with 21 points thanks to a league-best and program-record 11 assists. She was at her best during the Jeff’s six-match win streak to close the regular season, scoring three of her five goals on the season and handing out six assists during an impressive run that saw Amherst outscore opponents 21-4.
One of three defenders on the conference’s first team, Shepherd has anchored a Jeff defense that has surrendered the second-fewest goals in the NESCAC (11), while posting 10 shutouts and the league’s top goal differential both overall (46-11) and in conference play (22-6).
Routinely stopping opponents’ trips into the Amherst half before they have a chance to materialize, Shepherd has also shown a flair for the dramatic when she moves onto the attack. After a goal and assist during the conference playoffs in 2011, the back scored her lone points of 2012 when she headed in a Nathan corner to break a 1-1 tie in the second half of Amherst’s semifinal match with Bowdoin on Nov. 3.
Leading the Jeff backline alongside Shepherd has been Jackson-Gibson, who earns her first conference recognition with the second-team award. Standing out amidst the league’s younger players, she joins first-teamer Catharine Greer of Tufts and second-team pick Meg Alexander of Hamilton as the only underclasswomen on the All-NESCAC squads.
Having started 18 games and appeared in all 21 as a first-year, Jackson-Gibson has been a consistent stopper on the right side in 2012, starting every contest and helping Amherst limit opponents to a miniscule .065 shot percentage. The sophomore picked up her first career offensive points with an overtime assist in the Jeffs’ 1-0 win at Wesleyan on Oct. 20.
In addition to Kurash's Player of the Year selection, Trinity's Abbey Lake took home NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors while Bowdoin mastermind Brianne Weaver split Coach of the Year recognition with Peter Kim of Middlebury.
The four Amherst honorees hope for plenty more chances to add to their impressive seasons, as the Jeffs enter the NCAA Tournament this weekend, hosting Lasell in first-round action Saturday at 11 a.m.