Photo by Charlie Quigg '09
Senior Amy Armstrong led the Jeffs' offense, scoring two goals and assisting another.

Jeffs Advance to NESCAC Finals with 3-0 Win Over Bates

November 4, 2006

AMHERST, MA – After receiving a first-round bye in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Championship tournament, the Amherst College women’s soccer team came out ready to play against the visiting defending champions, the Bates College Bobcats. The Lord Jeffs took a 2-0 lead into halftime and went on to win 3-0, advancing to the final round of the tournament against a team to be determined later today.

Bates controlled the opening five minutes of the game and had a good scoring opportunity when junior Allison Emery (Richmond, VT) played a beautiful cross to senior Jessie Gargiulo (Boxborough, MA), but Gargiulo couldn’t get a solid touch on the ball, sending her shot straight up in the air for Amherst goalkeeper Piper Crowell (San Rafael, CA) to grab easily.

Amherst began to put on serious pressure 15 minutes into the half, when junior Heather Nowak (New Haven, CT) sent a free kick into the Bobcats’ defensive zone. It looked as though Bates would escape without harm, but Amherst kept the pressure on, as first-year Meg Murphy (Springfield, MA) ripped a shot from 20 yards out. The ball bounced off a Bates defender and to the feet of senior Amy Armstrong (Avon, CT), who found the back of the net with a beautiful shot low and to the corner to put Amherst ahead 1-0 with 28:56 remaining in the half.

Bates looked to counter just four minutes later, when senior Kim Alexander (Cumberland, ME) played a ball through to senior Mary Bucci (Norfolk, MA), who ripped a close-range shot, but Crowell came up big with a save. Amherst responded with a drive of its own, when, with 23:13 remaining in the half, Armstrong played a ball to junior Katie Coffey (Florence, MA), who took a shot from 30 yards out. Bates goalkeeper Mia Lidofsky (Providence, RI) was off her line and had to run back to reposition herself, as the ball bounced off her hands and the crossbar as she jumped to make a save. The ball rolled off the crossbar and bounced off Lidofsky’s body into the goal to give Amherst a 2-0 lead. 

Amherst threatened again just two minutes later, but a close-range Armstrong shot sailed high. Neither team would threaten for the remainder of the half, despite Amherst putting constant pressure on the Bates defense. Each team was held to just one shot in the final 20 minutes of the first half. 

The Bobcats opened up the second half with a scoring opportunity when Bates played a ball through to Alexander, who raced to beat Crowell to the ball. Crowell and Alexander reached the ball at the same time, but Crowell smothered it to prevent a shot. Bates had another great opportunity ten minutes into the second half, when Bucci ripped a point-blank shot as Crowell positioned herself for a low shot, but Bucci’s shot went wide into the side of the goal.

The second half did not see as much action and opportunity as the first, as neither team managed to string together much offense. With 17 minutes remaining in the half, Amherst ended the scoreless drought when Armstrong broke away from the pack and found the back of the net for her second goal of the game, putting Amherst ahead, 3-0. The Lord Jeff defense fended off the Bobcats for the remainder of the game, giving Amherst a 3-0 victory and a chance to win the NESCAC tournament on Sunday.

Crowell picked up her fourth shutout of the season, recording ten saves on the day against a Bates offense that out-shot Amherst 13 to nine, while Lidofsky recorded two saves of her own. The Bates defense was able to pull Amherst off-sides six times, preventing several scoring opportunities in the game.

The Bobcats finish the season at 10-5, advancing to the NESCAC semifinals with an overtime victory over second-seeded Tufts University in the opening round.

The Lord Jeffs improve to 12-1-1 on the season, and will face Middlebury College tomorrow at Hitchcock Field at 12:00 p.m. for the NESCAC Championship.