Nov. 14, 2009

Courtesy of Amherst Athletics

AMHERST, Mass. – The Amherst College women’s soccer team earned a 3-0 win over Eastern Connecticut State University Saturday afternoon at Hitchcock Field in the opening round of the 2009 NCAA Division III Championship. The Lord Jeffs improve to 13-3-1, while the Warriors end their season at 12-6-1.

The teams were tied at 0-0 at the end of the first half, but the hosts scored a pair of goals in a span of 58 seconds and added a third goal in the 67th minute. Amherst will host The College of New Jersey in the second round Sunday at 1 p.m. on Hitchcock Field. TCNJ earned a 2-0 win over Plattsburgh State University in Saturday’s second game.

Saturday’s result marked the 9th shutout of the season for the Jeffs, who earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship. Making its 10th appearance in the national tournament, Amherst is now 20-6-3 in NCAA Championship history and has advanced to at least the second round in each of its 10 appearances. 

The Warriors had a three-game winning streak snapped, as they had earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship for winning the Little East Conference title. Eastern Connecticut was making its fourth appearance in the tournament—its first since 2005—and is now 0-4 all-time. 

Amherst and ECSU played once during the 2009 regular season, with the Jeffs pulling out a 2-0 non-conference win on Oct. 15. First-year Emily Little (Sherborn, MA) scored a pair of goals in that game, but today it was first-years Hannah Cooper (Bethesda, MD) and Kathryn Nathan (Pembroke, MA) and junior Maureen Griffin (Morgan Hill, CA) who found the back of the net for Amherst.

Both teams were shooting from all over the field in an effort to take advantage of the wet conditions, as each goalkeeper was put to the test throughout the game. Neither team scored in the opening half, but each side had a chance in the final minute. The Warriors nearly broke the scoreless tie when a shot was redirected by an Amherst defender and missed just wide right with one minute to play. The Jeffs responded with a late corner kick and got a nice shot from first-year Bridget Keller (East Northport, NY), but senior Kim Church (Farmington, CT) was there to make the save with only seven seconds on the clock.

The hosts held an 11-3 advantage in shots and a 3-0 edge in corners during a first half that saw Church make three saves for the Warriors and sophomore Allie Horwitz (Woodbridge, CT) stop one shot for the Lord Jeffs.

It didn’t take long for the tie to be broken, and before long Amherst held a 2-0 lead. The first tally came just 2:57 into the second frame, when Keller played a nice cross from the right side to the head of Cooper, who sent the ball into the side netting for her sixth score of the season. 

Just 58 seconds later, Amherst’s Griffin had her shot blocked by the ECSU defense, but Nathan was there to clean up the rebound and score her fifth goal of the season by ripping a shot past Church to make it a 2-0 game with plenty of time to play. 

Griffin picked a good time to score her first goal of the season, as she gave Amherst some breathing room with 23:17 remaining in regulation. Junior Kyla Woodhouse (Topsham, ME) found a wide open Griffin in the box, and she was able to take her time and calmly send a finesse shot into the side netting of the far post, giving the hosts a 3-0 lead.

The visitors nearly made it a 3-1 game with 17 minutes to play, but Horwitz came up with a huge save for Amherst. Sophomore midfielder Sam Konopka (Hebron, CT) lined up for a free kick from 20 yards out and sent a beautiful ball over a wall of Lord Jeff defenders. Her shot was headed straight for the back of the net, but Horwitz leaped up and punched the ball over the goal with her right hand for one of her nicest saves of the season. 

Amherst’s lead held up, with the hosts out-shooting the Warriors by a 22-9 margin. Horwitz made five saves for the Jeffs, while Church stopped seven shots on the losing effort.