No. 10 Amherst Wins Thriller Against Springfield, 7-6

Senior co-captain Gabe Mann had another solid game for Amherst.

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College and Springfield College men’s lacrosse teams didn't disappoint fans who showed up to Gooding Field Wednesday evening expecting another nail biter, as the Lord Jeffs overcame an early 3-0 deficit and hung on for a thrilling 7-6 win over the Pride.

Wednesday marked the fifth consecutive one-goal game between Amherst (10-1) and Springfield (6-5), with the Lord Jeffs posting a 4-1 record against their in-state rivals since 2007. The 10th-ranked Lord Jeffs increased their win streak to 10 games, while the Pride suffered their fourth loss to a team currently ranked in the USILA Division III Coaches Poll.

The score was tied at 6-6 after Springfield’s Jarrid Johnson beat Amherst goalie Sam Jakimo ’12 (Woodbury, NY) on the near post with 4:06 remaining in regulation. Less than two minutes later a shot by Dan Routh (Allendale, NJ) was saved by Springfield’s Connor Nash, but Cole Cherney (Chappaqua, NY) put himself in position for a great put-back attempt that gave the Jeffs a 7-6 lead with 2:46 to play. Springfield would get a chance to make a late push, but the Pride were whistled for a pair of off-side penalties in the final minute.

Amherst’s Devin Acton ’14 (Sudbury, MA) led all players with four goals, while Johnson and Shane Ferguson had three apiece for the Pride. Will Reed (Riverside, CT) picked up six ground balls for the Jeffs, with Danny Gold (Medfield, MA) and Cherney adding five apiece.

It took nearly nine minutes for either team to get on the board, but Springfield quickly built a lead with three goals in a span of 4:16. Johnson accounted for the first two, with his second coming immediately after a Pride timeout. Ferguson made it a 3-0 game, but the Jeffs would head into the second period trailing by a single goal after Alex Fox (Garden City, NY) and Cherney scored in the final two minutes.

Acton scored twice on man-up opportunities in the second period, during which the Amherst defense held Springfield scoreless to carry a 4-3 lead into halftime. The Pride finally snapped a 26-minute drought when Ferguson finished off a feed from Shawn Runyon to bring the score to 4-4 with 5:49 to go in the third, and neither team would score again in the period.  

Nash opened the fourth quarter with a pair of big saves, followed by Ferguson handing the lead back to Springfield on a man-up opportunity with 10:46 remaining in regulation. Senior co-captain Gabe Mann (Denver, CO) was outstanding for Amherst throughout the game, but his biggest play came when he challenged two Springfield players and got his stick on a loose ball at midfield to keep possession alive for the Jeffs, which led directly to a tying goal from Acton with 9:00 on the clock.

Acton’s fourth goal of the game came after a pass from Evan Redwood (Lutherville, MD) and gave the Jeffs a 6-5 lead with 7:25 to go, but the Pride answered three minutes later with Johnson’s third tally of the night. The stage was set for yet another classic finish, and this time it was Cherney who played the role of hero with his 29th goal of the season.

Jakimo made eight saves and improved to 10-0 on the season, while Nash stopped 10 shots in a solid effort for the Pride. Springfield’s Mark Eaton (Westford, MA) won 10 of 16 faceoffs and led all players with eight ground balls. The teams were even in shots (30-30), while Amherst held a 15-8 edge in ground balls in the decisive fourth quarter.

Amherst and Springfield will each hit the road for a 1 p.m. conference game on Saturday, with the Lord Jeffs taking on Colby and the Pride squaring off against Wheaton.