Soccer goes to the Final Four
By Irene Cheung '96

The Jeffs shattered records throughout the fall, ending up with a phenomenal 77-25-2 (75 percent!) combined record for one of the finest seasons in Amherst history.

Wrapping it all up was the men's soccer team in its first-ever NCAA Final Four appearance. Under the renewed direction of Head Coach Peter Gooding and the first-year guidance of Milton Gooding, the Jeffs had blazed out to a 7-0-1 start with a No. 4 national ranking, the highest in the squad's 77-year varsity life span. After three straight weeks as the top team in New England, men's soccer suffered a short slide but rebounded in grand fashion with a 2-1, sudden-death victory over Williams. Trailing 1-0 midway through the second half, Devin Talbott knocked in an Andy Kay header to send the match into overtime, where Kay fed Brian Angelini for the Jeffs' first win over Williams in 18 attempts since 1982.

This regular season finale propelled Amherst into its third NCAA Tournament in five years as the No. 4 seed in the New England Region. Hosting Middlebury in the first round, the NESCAC rivals battled for 150 minutes in a 3-3 quadruple overtime tie, forcing penalty kicks to determine a winner. Though Amherst's first attempt was saved, four straight conversions and a key save by Kevin Larner sent the Jeffs to snowy Maine for the regional championship.

Amherst knocked off Bowdoin for the second time in the season with a 2-0 blanking of the top-seed before facing Plymouth State for the New England title. Co-Captain Mike Sullivan '98 evened the game at 1-1 midway through the first half and Kay knocked in a Nate McDonald corner kick for a go-ahead goal. The Panthers took advantage of another breakaway to equalize again, but the Jeffs outplayed and out-possessed the second-seed, leveling 20 shots and 14 corner kicks on the Panther net. With the match seemingly doomed for overtime, Kay poked a cross from Matt Diggs into the net for the game-winner with just over five minutes to play. The sophomore's third multiple-goal game of the season earned Amherst's first trip out of their region in three tries as the New England Champion.

Constantly improving the level of their game, the Jeffs shut down Northeast Region Champion Ithaca College 2-0 in the quarterfinals for an invitation to the first men's Final Four in Amherst history. Thanksgivings at home were sacrificed for the championship play-offs as men's soccer aimed for a national title in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Facing the College of New Jersey in the semifinals, the Amherst defense held off the Lions' 13 years of NCAA experience and eight shots to shut out the defending national champion for 83 minutes. The Amherst offense took advantage of its own breakaway late in the first half as All-American Co-captain Tim Christian settled a ball in the midfield before sending Kay down the wing for a left-footed rocket into the net. The sophomore tallied five of his team-leading 12 goals in the post-season to win All-New England honors.

Amherst maintained its 1-0 lead from the break with a brilliant Larner save of a penalty kick in the 50th minute. As the game neared its closing whistle, the Lions locked in the offense and notched their first goal with 6:54 on the clock. Just 68 seconds later, New Jersey struck again, this time fatally, to finish the Jeffs' fabulous run as the fourth-best team in the nation. Ending its finest season with a 12-5-2 record, men's soccer re-set the standard for most wins in a season in its longest campaign ever.

Coming off a Final Four season of its own, women's soccer posted 11 straight wins, the longest in team history. Highlighting the streak was a pair of dramatic matches that brought home Amherst's fourth-straight Little Three title, leading the Class of 1998 to graduate with a 7-0-1 record against Williams and Wesleyan. Katie Connelly notched the only goal of the match in the 51st minute while the Amherst defense held off 11 Williams shots and keeper Sarah Fabian made six saves to hold off the Ephs in a 1-0 decision.

Less than a week later, the Jeffs found their crown threatened by a 2-0 Wesleyan lead late in the second half. But Connelly struck again on a feed by senior Beth Leonard to tally Amherst's first goal with just over 11 minutes to play in regulation. Genny Furst netted an equalizer within the five-minute mark to force overtime. All-New England forward Katie Hersey then notched the game-winner on her fourth feed from All-American Ellie Hickerson.

Amherst repeated the feat in the post-season with the Metro Region Championship on the line. Down 2-0 to William Paterson with less than ten to play, an early NCAA exit seemed imminent until two-time All-American Shaunette Richards revived the Jeffs with 6:09 on the game clock. Just 47 seconds later, Connelly netted the equalizer to bring on overtime. Scoreless through the first two periods, the teams entered sudden death; that fate was handed to the Pioneers when Connelly's second blast of the day rocketed the Jeffs into their third Elite Eight in four appearances.

While a breakaway goal by Elizabethtown stole Amherst's return to the national semifinals, the Jeffs finished the season with a 14-3 mark, tying their record for most wins in a single season. The seniors concluded their college careers with a 51-9-6 (82 percent!) as the winningest women's soccer class at Amherst.

The Class of '98 likewise led football to its current place among the best in the NESCAC as the Jeffs notched their second straight 7-1 season, once again splitting the unofficial league title. The Amherst defense stifled opposing offenses throughout the season, producing three shutouts in the first four games to tie the Jeffs' own record for most blankings in a season of NESCAC play. Leading the unit was a trio of All-League athletes that broke down the running and passing game, holding rivals to under 100 points (93) and fewer than 2,000 yards (1,727) for the second straight year. All-American Devin Moriarty leveled 16 hits behind the line of scrimmage including nine sacks for 56 yards while Academic All-District free safety Todd Nichols picked off another handful of interceptions to bring his career total to ten. Meanwhile Co-Captain Seth Zimmerman wrapped up his collegiate football career as the team's leading tackler for the third straight year.

An unstoppable offense showed its star quality before a crowd of 12,473 homecoming fans in a 36-14 romp over then-undefeated Wesleyan. Quarterback Rich Willard jump-started the scoring with a 73-yard bomb to Todd Haggerty, a pass just four yards off the longest in Amherst history. The Jeffs amassed a season-high 539 yards of total offense while the Cardinals netted minus two yards rushing towards Amherst's second straight 7-0 start.

Heading to Williamstown for yet another dramatic finale, the Jeffs looked for their first cow-tipping since 1986. Facing the first deficit of the season on the opening kickoff, Nichols scurried for 60 yards on a kickoff return to set up Darin Byrne for his ninth touchdown of the season to tie the match 7-7 halfway through the first. But Williams ran out to a 24-7 lead on the Jeffs late in the half before Willard ordered Amherst's Air Force into action. A 36-yarder to Shaun Quigley with seven seconds on the clock cut the lead to 10 at the break. The dominant Amherst team resurfaced in the third to shut out the Ephs while the Jeffs scored on their first three possessions to take a 31-24 lead with 5:16 in the quarter.

A key interception late in the period shifted the momentum towards the Ephs again, as they had struggled to a net 5-yards in the first ten minutes of the quarter. Williams rattled off three touchdowns of Ephs' own, reclaiming the lead at 45-31 midway through the fourth. The fighters were launched again as Amherst scored on its next two series, pulling within one on a 34-yard pass to rookie Matt Hall with 1:49 on the clock. The recent high school quarterback lined up as always to hold the extra point attempt for fellow frosh Liam Fleming, but Hall surprised nervous viewers far and wide with a pass to Haggerty deep in the end zone for a precarious 46-45 lead.

But as is tradition in this 112-game rivalry, the drama wasn't over. Williams responded with a furious drive that culminated in the Ephs' second field goal in 17 games, both against Amherst. The Jeffs were within two ticks of their first undefeated season since 1984; still, Amherst wrapped up another fabulous year of Lord Jeff football with a three-way split of the Little Three title. Willard finishes his career with four College records and he will be remembered as one of Amherst's finest quarterbacks ever. The Class of '98 is the first since 1987 to experience four winning seasons on the gridiron; they will graduate with a 24-7-1 career record with two pieces of the Little Three.

Field hockey likewise forced a dramatic, three-way split of the Little Three crown after falling 1-0 to Williams with just eight seconds left on the game clock. While women's soccer had chipped away at the Wesleyan lead at the 11-minute mark, field hockey found itself still down two goals as the game entered its closing seven minutes. Two-time All-American Irene Permut sent a cross to sophomore Alie Stechenberg with 6:14 left in regulation for the Jeffs' first score, and senior Heather Kestner followed up less than three minutes later to tie the match 2-2. Five minutes into sudden death, Stechenberg found an open Gretchen Bowe for the game-winner and the defense of Amherst's Little Three Championship.

The Jeffs rounded out their regular season with a 4-1 pounding of Colby as Bowe pushed her rookie goal total to nine as the team's leading scorer. A 10-4 record earned a No. 5 seed in the ECAC Tournament and field hockey's third straight post-season appearance. Unfortunately, Keene State jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the mid-term break to end Amherst's season at 10-5 after the Jeffs' most successful start with a seven-game win streak.

Women's volleyball also extended its post-season streak with the Firedogs' fifth appearance in the ECAC Tournament in as many years. Amherst turned around an earlier 3-1 loss to fifth-seeded Gordon, setting up a semifinal matchup with top-seeded Smith. The Firedogs had already posted a pair of regular season wins over the Pioneers, including a 3-0 sweep in Northampton, but the eventual champions edged out Amherst with a four-game victory.

Contributing to the Firedogs' post-season appearance was a handy victory at NESCAC Quad in Brunswick, Maine, where Amherst swept all three matches played that day. Outside hitter Erin Greenspun and middle hitter Nell Berens had earned All-Tournament honors at the Bowdoin Invitational the week before. Berens spent much of the season among the nation's blocking leaders, finishing her junior season averaging 2.7 blocks per game.

The Firedogs claimed a third-place finish at the NESCAC Championship by up-ending third-seeded Tufts in the consolation match. Greenspun and fellow outside hitter Kristen Edgar both earned All-NESCAC honors as the pair combined for almost five kills a game, while senior Co-captain Liz Delsman posted 4.5 assists per game to receive league honorable mention.

Women's tennis had five players named All-New England as the Jeffs claimed their third straight New England Championship. Juniors Pam Diamond and Neely Steinberg paired up for their third doubles title while earning their second singles crown each. Senior Co-Captain Sally Childs and Sam Toerge also teamed up for the No. 3 doubles title, avenging an earlier, 8-6 loss to the Eph team of Bazelon and King in the championship match. Rookie Carolyn Pastel fell in the semifinals of her doubles draw with partner Jamie Cohen, but Pastel rebounded to claim her first singles crown.

Cohen had emerged midway through the season as the Jeffs' top player after blazing through the Rolex Championship to win both the singles and doubles draws. Amherst had three of its five representatives advance to the singles semis, where Cohen upset top-seeded Diamond, 6-3, 6-4, and Steinberg fell to New England runner-up Kanta Murali of Smith. Similarly, the doubles final pitted teammates Cohen-Pastel against Diamond-Steinberg. Women's tennis finished its fall with a perfect 9-0 mark and its third straight Little Three Championship.

The cross country team made big strides toward their first titles as both the men and women finished second in the trivalry. Co-captain Rob Mitchell shaved an extra 25 seconds off his own course record, set at the Amherst Invitational to open this season, to claim his fifth victory and third course record of his junior season. Finishing third overall among Division I, II and Three runners at New Englands, Mitchell remained undefeated against Division Three competition until November, and he reclaimed his league dominance two weeks later by winning NCAA Regionals for a trip to Nationals. Backing up Mitchell's speedy front-running were fellow juniors Dan Chandler and Jon Prokup.

Sophomore Dini Pineda stepped into the women's lead after senior co-captain Kelly Jennings was sidelined with injury half way through the season. A young though dedicated team handily defended its title at the Connecticut College Invitational as the Jeffs placed six runners in the top 15. Pineda and Mitchell made an easy transition into the winter as they and several cross country teammates geared up for the indoor track season, directed by first-year head coach Erik Nedeau. Pineda already clocked her best-by-far personal record in the 1500 in her opening meet while Mitchell continued to leave the competition in his wake.

While the fall finally wrapped up just days before December, winter teams had already begun to follow up the fall's success. Men's basketball boasted a 5-0 mark at the holiday break, as the Jeffs had averaged almost a 16-point margin of victory in each game. Amherst opened the season with the championship of the Ramapo Tournament, in which senior Billy Skorupski earned MVP honors and fellow captain John Pavelski was named All-Tournament. Sophomore Pat Mulvey followed up in a 100-90 victory over Clark with perfect 8-for-8 shooting, including three from behind the arc to earn ECAC Honor Roll recognition.

Women's basketball rebounded from a season opening loss with a string of wins toward an early 3-1 record. Stepping off the soccer field and onto the court, Katie Hersey moves into the top-10 leaders in scoring, rebounding and steals, bolstered by a 13-point, 10-rebound, 5-steal and 3-assist showing to lead the Jeffs to a come-from-behind win at Coast Guard. Sarah Rinaldi pitched in three blocks just one game after dumping in a season-high 20 points against Western New England, including 17 in the first half on 7-for-8 shooting. Joined by three-point ace Janinne Noel and a deep bench of young and talented players, the Jeffs aim for another shot at the ECAC Championship.

Men's ice hockey posts a 5-2 record at the break, 4-1 in the ECAC East and tied for tops in the league with NESCAC rivals Williams and Connecticut College. The Jeffs opened the season by out-scoring opponents 10-1 in their first two games to establish netminder Chris Addesa as one of the best in the league. Tri-captain Mike Noone had also made an early impact on the ECAC East with his seven goals and four assists in league play, bolstered by a hat trick to open his senior season. Rookies Chris Orszulak and Darce Swaggert have also played big roles in the season so far as members of one of the Jeffs' most talented recruiting classes in recent memory.

In its third season of varsity status, women's ice hockey has made huge strides as a core member of the ECAC Alliance. Led by the offensive firepower of Co-captain Jess Frisch, soccer star Genny Furst and field hockey phenom Gretchen Bowe, the team closes 1997 with a two-game winning streak, including its first-ever league win with a 5-1 romp over Maine. Bowe notched a hat trick while Frisch contributed three assists as both earned ECAC recognition in this historic win, just three days after an 8-1 demolition of Trinity. Despite the squad's small numbers, first-year Head Coach Kay Cowperthwait remains optimistic about the future success of her fledgling team.

Swimming and diving have also found the winning touch under new direction as Steve Jungbluth takes over both the men's and women's programs this season. The Jeffs made their Pratt Pool debut against former Head coach Peter Solomon and his Middlebury Panthers, whom Amherst left in its wake with a pair of victories. Megan Mardy, Kerry Weeks, Tiffany Johnston and Sarah Lukaska kicked off the meet with a pool record in the 400 medley relay toward the women's second victory, while Pat Lahey edged out the Panthers in the final 75 yards of the 200 breaststroke to push the men to a 125-116 squeaker for their first win.

Men's and women's squash continue their winning ways as both teams boasted 2-0 records early in the season. Both teams will enjoy the newly renovated Davenport Squash Courts (see article on page 2), which will host both Little Threes and the NISRA Individual Championships in February.

On the club sports scene, winter teams have yet to begin competition while fall squads earned honors and finished up in post-season tournaments. Water polo's Darren Teshima and rookie Myles Ranier both earned All-New England honors, while men's and women's crew gained experience and confidence in both varsity and novice races. Men's and women's rugby made strong showings in the New England Rugby Football Union Tournament where the men finished fourth with a 4-1 league record and the women avenged an earlier loss to Boston College with a 10-8 tournament win. Both teams also took home more "white" jerseys with yet another routine victory over Williams.