Nov. 11, 2009

*Courtesy of Amhurst Athletics

AMHERST, Mass. - Amherst College earned a 3-0 win over Husson University in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Field Hockey Championship Wednesday evening on Gooding Field. The Lord Jeffs will travel to Tufts University to face Skidmore College Saturday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m., while the Eagles' season comes to a close.

Amherst scored two goals in a span of 48 seconds to take a 2-0 lead into halftime. Sophomore forward Chrissy Cantore (Hershey, PA) put the Lord Jeffs on the scoreboard in the 23rd minute before junior midfielder Carly Leahy (Weston, MA) made it a 2-0 game in the 24th. First-year Katie McMahon (Denville, NJ) added an insurance goal with 6:48 to play, marking her eighth tally of the season.

Ranked 13th in the latest NFHCA Division III National Coaches Poll, Amherst improved to 4-3 all-time in NCAA Championship play. Wednesday marked the Lord Jeffs' first victory in the national tournament since 1999, when they advanced to the NCAA title game.

At 12-4 (6-3 NESCAC), head coach Carol Knerr and the Lord Jeffs secured their highest win total since the 2001 squad finished at 13-4. Amherst had not competed in the NCAA Championship since 2000.

Husson finishes its season at 9-8 (4-3 NAC) with a North Atlantic Conference championship and the program's first-ever NCAA Championship berth to look back on. The Eagles got off to a 2-7 start in 2009 but carried a seven-game winning streak into Wednesday's game. Head coach Katie Flaherty did an exceptional job with a young team in her debut season with Husson, as the team featured only two seniors.

Amherst took control early on in the first-ever meeting between the Lord Jeff and Eagle field hockey programs, earning a penalty corner and putting two shots on goal in the first two minutes. Cantore recorded her team's first shot, but Husson first-year goalkeeper Kristen Capen (Leeds, ME) was there to kick the ball away for the first of her four first-half saves. Cantore Chrissy Cantore scored what proved to be the game winner for Amherst.

Cantore would not be denied on her next attempt, though, as her fifth goal of the season was accompanied by an assist from sophomore Sarah McCarrick (New Canaan, CT). Senior tri-captain Haley Douds (South Orange, NJ) lined up for a penalty corner and sent her pass to McCarrick, who found Cantore for the game's opening goal with 22:05 remaining.

Less than one minute later, a scrum in the box was broken up when Leahy got herself open for a shot that skimmed off a Husson defender and got by Capen, making it 2-0 in favor of the hosts with 21:17 left in the first half. Amherst would hold a 10-0 advantage in shots and in penalty corners after 35 minutes of action.

Husson called a timeout with 18:50 remaining in regulation with Amherst still holding on to a 2-0 lead. The Lord Jeffs managed only one shot in the first 16:10 of the second half, while the Eagles had still registered zero shots.

The Eagles earned their first penalty corner of the contest with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Junior forward Courtney Allen (Gardiner, ME) sent her attempt to classmate Helen Berry (Belfast, ME), who ripped a shot from the top of the circle. Berry's hit was Husson's best chance of the night, but the ball missed just wide left.

McMahon added her insurance goal with 6:48 remaining on the clock when she received the ball in the circle, turned and fired a high shot at the goal. Capen was there to slow the shot down, but the ball took a hop in Amherst's favor and trickled across the line. Senior Molly Malloy (Stamford, CT) was credited with the assist for her 19th point of the season.

Husson came right back with another scoring opportunity when a penalty corner was passed to senior defender Jenika Kelley. Kelley fired a waist-high shot to the inside post, but Amherst sophomore goalkeeper Emily Vitale (Cheshire, CT) knocked the ball away for her first and only save of the evening.

Amherst's 3-0 lead held up, sending the Lord Jeffs into the second round and ending Husson's impressive season. Capen finished with five saves for the Eagles.