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Amherst College > Athletics > Women's Soccer > Jeffs Advance to NCAA Final Four

Jeffs Advance to NCAA Final Four With 1-0 Win at William Smith

November 10, 2001

GENEVA, NY - First-year striker Adrienne Showler scored in the 12th minute of Saturday's NCAA women's soccer National Quarterfinal at William Smith College and the Amherst defense, led by junior goalie Brooke Diamond, made the goal stand up as the Jeffs knocked off the host Herons, 1-0, to advance to their second-ever NCAA Final Four. With the win, their ninth straight, the Jeffs' set a new school record with 15 victories and will face either Wheaton College of Illinois or the University of Scranton (PA) in next Saturday's NCAA Semifinals at a site to be determined.

The tone for Saturday's national quarterfinal was set by both teams in the game's opening minute. William Smith had two scoring opportunities in the first two minutes, including a shot from 10 yards out 54 seconds in from Alyson Stachura that junior Amherst keeper Brooke Diamond dove to her left to turn away. The Herons added three more shots in the game's first five minutes, keeping possession in Amherst's defensive end. The Jeffs, in what would become a recurring theme, received their scoring opportunities in transition and would use their second such chance in the 12th minute to strike first. After a long ball down the left sideline, senior Amherst tri-captain Cathy Poor was tackled in the penalty box by William Smith defender Felicia Crump, and the ball ricocheted over to Showler at the top of the 18. The first-year took one step before blasting a right-footed shot past Heron goalie Leah Cornwell into the left side of the net. Showler's fourth goal of the season would end up being all the Jeffs would need, thanks to one of the more impressive defensive efforts of the season.

Diamond, who would make five of her seven saves in the first half, came up with saves on consecutive William Smith possessions midway through the period before the Herons would have three great chances just before the half. The first came in the 41st minute when William Smith forward Michelle Smith sent a long ball into the box that was deflected over Diamond's head and toward the goal. Junior fullback Katharine Shipley got to the ball at the last second, clearing it off the end-line and out of play. Less than a minute later, the Herons would threaten again only to have another shot cleared with a header by senior tri-captain Margaret Rubin. Thirty-five seconds after Rubin's clear, the Herons seemed to have the equalizer but Diamond dove on a ball on the end-line after a scrum in front of the Jeffs' net to keep Amherst's lead at 1-0 going into halftime. Keeping William Smith from equalizing before the break would prove to be critical for Amherst, who has allowed only one first half goal in its last 14 games.

The Herons would threaten throughout the second half but would never have as good a chance to tie the game as they did late in the opening period. Instead, the second half turned into a war of attrition between the William Smith offense and Amherst's impervious defense. With the Herons threatening, the Jeffs had several chances to widen their lead in transition. The first opportunity came in the 58th minute when Showler had a one-on-one with Cornwell only to be foiled by the Williams Smith goalie. Ten minutes later, the Jeffs appeared to have picked up their second goal but a breakaway score by junior midfielder Jenny Rossman was called back for an off-sides violation by the Jeffs. Less than a minute later, first-year striker Lee-Jay Henry had a breakaway of her own only to have Cornwell thwart it with a diving stop. Henry's breakaway would be Amherst's last good scoring chance of the afternoon as the last 20 minutes saw most of the action taking place in Amherst's defensive end. The Herons, who came up with the equalizer in the 90th minute of their NCAA Regional championship game against Union College last Sunday, refused to go away quietly, sending a flurry of late shots on the Amherst goal. The best of those attempts came in the 82nd minute on a running header from Stephanie Leveille, which Diamond had to dive to her left to turn away. Leveille had another scoring chance two minutes later, but her shot from 22 yards out was well wide-right and the Herons would not threaten again.

Along with Shipley and Diamond, Rubin and first-year Mary Sarro-Waite combined to turn in a stellar all-around defensive effort for the Jeffs, who handed William Smith its first shutout since a 1-0 loss to Tufts University in last year's NCAA Quarterfinals. For the Herons, who finished their 2001 season with a record of 17-2-1, Cornwell finished with six saves, as the Jeffs, despite being out-shot 16-10, made the most of the few opportunities they had. Showler becomes the ninth different Amherst player to record a game-winning goal in 2001 and the fourth different Jeff to notch a game-winner in Amherst's four NCAA Tournament games. Poor, who currently boasts a tournament-high 12 points, picked up the assist as the Jeffs notched their 15th victory, breaking the previous school record for wins in a season held by the 1995 and 1997 squads.

Amherst, who's only other trip to the NCAA Final Four came when they hosted it in 1996, advanced to one of next Saturday's semifinals, with Saturday's second semifinal pairing the winners of Sunday's two remaining quarterfinal games. The Final Four will be hosted by one of the four participating institutions with times, ticket prices and sites to be announced on Sunday or Monday.