Amherst Opens Season with 9-8 Overtime Victory at Wesleyan

Junior Mary Noonan led the Jeffs with three goals, including the game-winner in overtime. 

Courtesy of Wesleyan University Sports Information

MIDDLETOWN, CT – In a game between Little Three rivals with national implications, the Amherst College women’s lacrosse team opened its 2008 season with its 17th consecutive victory over Wesleyan University dating back to 1994 by pulling out a 9-8 overtime triumph.  The Lord Jeffs came into the contest ranked eighth in the most recent IWLCA Division III poll while Wesleyan, which was ranked 18th in the preseason but dropped out of the top-20 without playing a, was one of six teams to receive votes yet not be ranked.

Wesleyan came back from a 5-2 deficit early in the second half to force the game into overtime. Though the Cardinals struck first in the extra period as first-year Jess Chukwu completed her hat trick just 39 seconds into overtime, Amherst knotted the game with 29 ticks left in the first three-minute portion as sophomore Christina Hopkins (Montclair, NJ) received a smart pass from senior Maddie Hoeg (Shoreham, NY) in the middle and stepped up to even the count at 8-8. 

After the teams switched sides, junior Mary Noonan (West Roxbury, MA) finished off her hat trick for the Lord Jeffs just 40 seconds into the last segment, bouncing a shot from the right side past Wesleyan keeper Rachel Stemerman, who had five saves during her 36 minutes in net.  Sophomore Abby Sedney had played the opening half for the Cardinals, making six stops. 

But no stop in the game was bigger than the one senior netminder Linda McEvoy (Rochester, NY) made for Amherst with just six seconds to play in overtime. After Wesleyan got the ball back in the final minute, sophomore Charlotte Hastings came up the middle for a scoring chance and fired a shot high into the net over McEvoy's shoulder for what appeared to be a tying goal. A whistle sounded while the ball was in flight and the goal was called back due to an Amherst foul. Hastings earned a free-position attempt, but this time went low to McEvoy's right, only to have the keeper make the stop, and time ran out without further incident.

Amherst got off to a strong start in the game as first-year Liz Adamo (Garden City, NY) wasted little time inaugurating her collegiate scoring with a pair of goals in the opening 10 minutes while Noonan also had a pair of goals separated by a 2:29 interval to spot the visitors a 4-1 lead with 13:35 remaining in the first half.  The Wesleyan goal came from sophomore Erin McCarthy. A second Wesleyan goal, the fifth of the year for junior Laurel Sticklor, made it a 4-2 count at halftime.

The spark plug of the second half for Wesleyan was Chukwu as her goal at 10:37 on a hard run on the right side and blistering shot gave Wesleyan its first tie at 6-6. Though Amherst reclaimed the lead at 5:44 on the opening goal in the career of first-year Kelly Trapp (Monterey, CA), Chukwu again knotted the score, this time with 39 seconds left in regulation. Wesleyan had obtained possession with 1:10 to go after Amherst attempted to run off the final three minutes of the contest but lost the ball on a good check by Hastings and a ground ball by junior Lisa Zweigenhaft.

Wesleyan also got a multiple-goal game from junior Sarah Orkin, who netted a pair, while sophomore Tyler Tory-Murphy (Sea Cliff, NY) collected three points for Amherst with a goal and two assists.  Amherst had eight assists on its nine goals.

Amherst plays again Thursday, Mar. 13 when it hosts Springfield College at 5 p.m.