AMHERST, Massachusetts -- Amherst men's soccer earned its third bid to the NCAA Championships in five years as the No. 4 seed in the New England Region. The Jeffs will host NESCAC foe Middlebury on Wednesday for a first round game at 12:00pm. The winner of this matchup will advance to the New England Region Championship, held November 15-16 at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.
The Jeffs jumped out to a 7-0-1 record and a No. 1 regional ranking before dropping their first game. Amherst felled NESCAC rivals and fellow NCAA competitiors Bowdoin (3-1), Middlebury (1-0) and Trinity (3-1) midway through the season before suffering its first loss to Wheaton, a 2-1 decision against the now No. 3 seed in the New England Region. Peaking at No. 4 in the country, Amherst posted its highest national showing in the 77-year history of the program.
Amherst enters the post-season with a 9-4-1 record, the most wins the Jeffs have claimed in the regular season since 1989, Peter Gooding's last year as the Lord Jeffs' head coach before taking a seven-year hiatus. Vaulting Amherst into the post-season was the Jeffs' first victory over archrival Willams in 15 years. Trailing 1-0 at the half, senior Devin Talbott (Washington, DC) poked in an Andy Kay (North Easton, MA) header to push the match into overtime. Kay created the game-winner with a feed to Brian Angelini (Granada Hills, CA) for a 2-1 spoiler of the Ephs' Homecoming festivities. In the last 18 meetings since 1982 including five tournament appearances, Amherst was 0-14-4 against the Ephs until last Saturday.
Kay stands as the Jeffs' leading scorer with seven goals and four assists while Tim Christian follows with eight goals. Middlebury is led by a trio of sophomores as John Giannacopoulos (Needham, MA), Chris Wenger (Delmar, NY) and Sergey Cherednichenko (Scottsville, NY) combine for 15 of the team's 31 goals. Keeper Scott Wiercinski (Brunswick, ME) boasts a 0.69 goals-allowed-average in 14 games.
The Jeffs have made two other appearances since 1993 when the NESCAC permitted its teams to participate in NCAA Championships. Amherst men's soccer was the first team in College history to earn a bid to the Tournament in 1993, where they fell to eventual national champion Williams in the second round. Once again the Ephs eliminated Amherst in 1995, also in the second round in Williamstown.
This is the first opportunity Amherst has hosted an NCAA men's soccer tournament game. In the 40-team field, the largest ever for Division III men, the NESCAC is represented four times: Bowdoin, Amherst and Middlebury claim the Nos. 1, 4 and 5 seeds in the New England region, while Trinity (Conn.) is the fifth-best team in the Metro Region.
1997 NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship
New England Bracket
Wed Nov 12 at Amherst, Massachusetts No. 5 Middlebury (10-4) at No. 4 Amherst (9-4-1) 12:00pm Wed Nov 12 at Norton, Massachusetts No. 6 Keene State (15-2-2) at No. 3 Wheaton (Mass.) (13-4) 1:00pm Sat Nov 15 at Brunswick,Maine Winner Middlebury/Amherst v. No. 1 Bowdoin (11-3) 10:30am Winner Keene State/Wheaton v. No. 2 Plymouth State (14-2-1) 1:00pm Sun Nov 16 at Brunswick, Maine Regional Final 12:00pm # # # 11/10/97