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Hallison Putnam '02
2000 ECAC Tournament MVP Hallison Putnam '02

2001 Women's Soccer Season Preview

August 31, 2001

With the NESCAC's transition to a full playing conference complete, a regular-season slate that included nine of 14 games against teams from the nation's elite conference and just two seniors - co-captains Meg Riley and Alexa Faigen - on a youth-laden roster, the 2000 Jeffs had their work cut out for them en route to an amazing 10th consecutive postseason appearance under veteran head coach Michelle Morgan.

Despite what appeared to be an uphill battle from the onset, Amherst closed out a 9-4-1 regular season with a dramatic 2-1 overtime victory at Little III rival Wesleyan University, earning the fourth seed in the seven-team field in the inaugural NESCAC Postseason Championship Tournament. Because of geographic considerations, Amherst, which finished 5-3-1 in conference play, hosted archrival Williams College in a rematch of the Jeffs' thrilling 1-0 win in Amherst earlier in the season. The game lived up to its billing, but a narrow 1-0 loss on a deciding goal in the 86th minute left Morgan's crew pondering the remainder of its postseason fate.

Nevertheless, the never-say-die Jeffs were rejuvenated by a berth in the ECAC Tournament and proceeded to "run the table" in one of the more dramatic marches toward a postseason championship in recent memory. After edging Springfield College 1-0 on a Margaret Rubin header in the 49th minute and using penalty kicks to knock off top-seeded Wellesley College, 4-3, in the tournament semifinals, Amherst captured the championship with a 3-2, triple-overtime victory at NESCAC rival Bates College, earning the first ECAC Title in program history.

Highlighting the championship dramatics, Tournament MVP Hallison Putnam knotted the score 2-2 in the 62nd minute with her fourth goal of the season as the Jeffs - playing in their fifth overtime game of the season and second in two days - dominated the extra periods, outshooting Bates, 10-3. Finally, in the 133rd minute, Amherst's offensive domination paid off, as rookie Jenny Rossman re-directed a free kick from high school-classmate Katie Shipley, giving the Jeffs their first-ever ECAC title with the latest goal (by 27 seconds) ever scored in an Amherst women's soccer game. With the win, Amherst finished a wild, roller coaster season with an 11-5-2 record, posting a win in their final game for the first time since 1984.

Last season's youth-laden club has evolved into a tournament-tested team of experienced veterans - led by senior tri-captains Cathy Poor and Hallison Putnam on offense and Margaret Rubin on defense - as the Jeffs enter their second season of formal NESCAC play.

Even while hampered by a pair of stress fractures as a junior, Poor led the Jeffs in scoring for the third straight season and was the sixth leading scorer in the NESCAC with a school-record 11 goals, including three multiple-goal games, despite missing five of the team's 18 games due to injury. The reigning First-Team All-NESCAC, NSCAA All-Region and NESCAC All-Academic selection should provide an added spark with a healthy return in 2001, paired with last season's assist leader and second-leading scorer Jenny Rossman, who handed out a team-high nine helpers to go along with four goals as a first-year phenom.

Putnam emerged as an offensive force after moving from striker to the midfield while filling in for the injured Poor, helping carry the Jeffs to last year's ECAC Championship as the Tournament's MVP. Senior striker Laura Raybould provided additional scoring punch by tallying three goals and an assist as a junior, while eight other returning players pierced the scoring column last season.

On the other side of the ball, Rubin leads a defensive unit that allowed just 13 goals in 18 games and posted nine shutouts in 2000 - all of which were credited to junior goalkeeper Brooke Diamond - who finished third in the NESCAC with a 0.69 goals against average. In 2001 Rubin and Diamond will be joined in the backfield by sophomores Kay Bradley and Alison White and juniors Katie Shipley and Brianne Watkins.

Amherst kicks off a challenging regular-season slate at conference-rival Colby College on Sunday, September 9, with its home opener scheduled the following Saturday, September 15, against visiting Bates. The 2001 schedule features nine conference matchups, including a pivotal road game at archrival Williams on October 13. The top seven teams in regular season conference play qualify for the NESCAC Championship Tournament with the top-seeded team hosting the semifinal and final rounds, while the next three seeds play home games in the first round. This year's tournament kicks off on Tuesday, October 23, with the semifinal and final rounds set for October 27-28.