AC
Noon

AMHERST, Mass. -- Spencer Noon scored in the 20th minute and Federico Sucre added an insurance goal early the second half to lead sixth-ranked Amherst to a 2-0 victory against Trinity (Conn.) on Sunday afternoon in the finals of the 2011 NESCAC Championship.

Amherst improves to 14-1-2 and earns the NESCAC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Trinity drops to 10-5-2 and will hope for an at-large selection.

The top-seeded Lord Jeffs claimed their second conference title in four years, while the third-seeded Bantams were making their first-ever appearance in the NESCAC finals after missing out on the tournament altogether in 2010.

Amherst has won 14 consecutive games in the series, with Sunday’s result snapping a stretch of nine meetings that were decided by one goal.

Trinity carried a five-game winning streak into the championship match and looked strong in the early going, as Dan Mayernick forced Amherst goalkeeper Lennard Kovacs to come up with a diving save after a low shot to the far post from 20 yards out. Two minutes later Anthony El-Hachem made a great run in the box, but his one-timer was blocked in front of the net by Amherst defender Ben Norton.

Amherst’s first scoring chance came in the 12th minute when Noon beat two Bantam defenders and was left in a one-on-one situation with Trinity goalkeeper Grant Schonberg. Noon tried to sneak a shot between the keeper’s legs, but Schonberg knocked the ball away for the first of his seven saves.

The Lord Jeffs got on the board when they took advantage of a free kick from 30 yards out. Senior defender Sam Kaplan delivered a perfect ball to Sucre, who rose over the Trinity defense and headed a pass to Noon in the middle of the box. With his back to the goal and no defender within five feet, Noon spun and hit a solid bicycle kick with his left foot. The ball ricocheted off the bottom of the crossbar and bounced in to give the Jeffs a 1-0 lead with 25:52 on the clock.

Other Conference Championship Games
American Southwest  Texas-Tyler 3, Hardin-Simmons 0
Empire 8 Stevens 2, Elmira 1
SCAC Oglethorpe 1, Centre 0
Conference Championship Central

Statistics were even at the half, with Amherst holding a slim 11-8 advantage in shots and the teams tied in corner kicks (3-3) and saves (4-4).

The Lord Jeffs needed only two minutes and 23 seconds to add an insurance goal in the second half, after again taking advantage of a set piece. Chris Lerner sent in a free kick from the right side and Sucre once again got his head on the ball, only this team he beat Schonberg himself with a flick to the far post.

Sucre’s goal would be the highlight of an otherwise uneventful second half that featured only four shots on goal, all from Amherst. Trinity’s last push came with one minute remaining in regulation and resulted in a Zachary Packer shot that rolled just wide of the left post.

Schonberg dropped to 10-5-2 despite coming up with seven saves, while Kovacs improved to 13-1-2 and recorded his seventh shutout of the season after making four stops against the Bantams.