Around the Herd: Opening Weekend in Amherst Athletics

Fall sports are in full swing as field hockey, volleyball, women’s and men’s soccer, cross country, and men’s golf all kicked off their campaigns in the past week. Here are the highlights.

Around the Herd: Opening Weekend in Amherst Athletics
The women's soccer huddles up before their game against Middlebury in 2022. Photo courtesy of Ian Katz.

Fall sports are in full swing as field hockey, volleyball, and women’s and men’s soccer, cross country, and men’s golf all kicked off their campaigns in the past week. Here are the highlights.

Men’s Soccer

The men’s soccer team began their season on the road at Yeshiva University on Tuesday, Sept. 5. A late, 8 p.m. start marked the first kickoff of the fall. Yeshiva scored early to seize control, but that lead was short lived. The Mammoths scored five unanswered goals and never looked back. The flurry started when Shawn Rapal ’24E put the Mammoths on the board only three minutes after the Maccabees’ goal to tie the game. Ignacio Cubeddu ’25 had the hot foot: After assisting the first goal, he connected with captain Ada Okorogheye ’24E only nine minutes later to give the Mammoths their first lead of the game with his second assist. The team took a 2-1 lead into the half, before getting goals from Fynn Hayton-Ruffner ’25, Ryan Gomez ’25, and Daniel Arizmendi ’24E in the 62nd, 73rd, and 89th minutes, respectively, to seal a 5-1 win.

Four days later, the team headed north for their first NESCAC clash of the season, traveling to Middlebury for a date with the Panthers. Tough defense by both sides limited scoring opportunities in the first half, although sophomore goalkeeper Juan Perez ’26 made a key save in the early minutes to keep the score knotted at zero. In the second half, things picked up for the Mammoths. A rebound in the box was corralled by Okorogheye, who tapped it to junior Niall Murphy ’25 for a clean finish. With the 1-0 lead, the Mammoths continued the offensive pressure, getting shots from multiple players. However, in the 66th minute, the Panthers found the equalizer off a low shot to the left corner. While Amherst held them scoreless for the remainder of the game, the match ultimately ended with a 1-1 tie. The No. 9-ranked Mammoths finished the week at 1-0-1 and look ahead to a mid-week game at Manhattanville College on Wednesday, Sept. 13, before traveling east for a showdown with NESCAC rival Tufts on Saturday, Sept. 16.

Women’s Soccer

The No. 11 women’s soccer team had a jam packed schedule this week. With games on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday, there was no shortage of action for the Mammoths. Kicking off their season, the team made the trip to take on Lesley University on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at 8 p.m. It took the Mammoths just 20 minutes to find the back of the net. Sophomore Brooke Ingemi ’26 sent a perfectly placed pass to Patience Kum ’25, then followed up this pass with another just three minutes later, this time to senior captain Ally Deegan ’24. Both forwards found the back of the net, establishing a quick 2-0 lead. The Mammoths continued the offensive onslaught, registering twenty shots compared to Lesley’s four. Deegan would find the goal again, as would Alyssa Huyhn ’25 and Fiona Bernet ’25, before Ingemi capped off the scoring to make it 6-0. First-year Precious Novidzro ’27 recorded two helpers on the day, tying Ingemi for the team lead on the season.

Only three days later, the women trekked up to Middlebury for their NESCAC season-opener. While the two teams were incredibly well-matched, the Mammoths were the first to strike. In the 37th minute, first-year Jessica Lomo ’27 collected a pass, cut inside to beat her defender, and blasted a curler to the right side-netting for a 1-0 lead and her first collegiate goal. While Middlebury equalized in the waning moments of the first half, the Mammoths retook the lead after the break. Bernet showed her aerial prowess in the box, tapping a header past the goalkeeper off a set piece pass from Liza Katz ’25E. However, the Mammoths would concede another goal in the 79th minute, and the teams battled to a 2-2 stalemate. Captain Mika Fisher ’25E recorded four saves in the draw.

A mere 24 hours later, the Mammoths were back on Gooding Field for their first home game. Even with two lightning delays, the team showed resilience in their matchup against Smith College. Entering the half tied at zero, Lomo connected with Novidzro for a beautiful header into the top corner in the 48th minute of play. Great opportunities followed for the Mammoths, who were able to get 19 shots off during the contest. Looks by Kate Quigley ’26 and Huynh went just wide, and sophomore goalie Lulu Fickes ‘26 made a point-blank save to maintain the shutout. Coming up, the Mammoths are back on Gooding Field, hosting Lasell University on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m. and before heading to Boston to play Tufts on Saturday at 12 p.m.

Field Hockey

Similar to the men’s and women’s soccer teams, the No. 10-ranked field hockey team also made the trip up north to face the defending national champion and national No. 1-ranked Middlebury. Middlebury proved a tough opponent, outshooting the Mammoths 25-4 during the contest. Captain Sara Nidus ’25E made nine saves in her second game of the season, including a stellar effort on a point-blank penalty shot in the opening minutes of play, although the Mammoths ultimately fell 3-0.

But bounce back they did, in emphatic fashion, with a 9-3 thumping of Keene State University closing out their busy first week of play. After a first quarter in which neither team scored, the underdog Owls got on the board first, converting their first shot of the game to take a 1-0 lead. However, the Mammoths were not to be denied for much longer: just 51 seconds after Keene took the lead, Paige DiBiase ’25 scored her second goal of the season to tie the contest at 1-apiece. Then, the Mammoth offense exploded, netting four more goals to take a 5-1 lead into halftime. Muffie Mazambani ’24 got her first of the game to take the lead at 2-1, and Sam Maynard ’25 put in one of her own before Mazambani put two more goals past the Owls goaltender. With her three goals in the quarter, Mazambani completed her hattrick in just under four minutes. Not to be outdone by her senior teammate, Maynard completed a hattrick of her own in the second half with two more goals, before Keene got one back. Genevieve Caruso ’27 scored to extend the lead to 8-2, and the teams traded tallies once more to close out the game. Kate Smith ’25 notched the final goal for the Mammoths to seal a 9-3 win.

The team returns to action on Saturday, taking on Tufts on Sept. 16 at 12 p.m.


As is the trend with all Amherst teams this week, volleyball started off with a busy lineup. On Wednesday, Sept. 6, they began their season at home against Smith College in LeFrak Gymnasium. While they conceded the first set to the Pioneers, the Mammoths were sure not to let that happen twice. They came out of the gate swinging in the second and third sets, downing the Pioneers 25-22 and 25-20 respectively. While the Pioneers forced a fifth set, the Mammoths were always in control. They pulled out a 15-6 victory in the fifth set to seal the win. Charlotte Rasmussen ’26 led the way with 11 kills, while first year Bailey Reid ’27 exploded in her debut with seven kills, three aces, and three blocks. Junior Anaya Thomas ’25 registered the game-winning kill off a beautiful set from Lizzie Papalia ’25.

With a win under their belts, the Mammoths hit the road, heading to New York City for the Violet Volleyball Weekend. First up was Babson College, who capitalized on their opportunities to win the match in straight sets. Kinsey Cronin ’25 registered eight kills, with Thomas close behind her with seven. Amherst fought to the end, rallying to pull within one on multiple occasions.

On Saturday, the Mammoths took on a doubleheader, first taking on Stockton University. It was a banner game from Papalia, who chipped in four aces, eight assists, and 17 digs. After dropping the first set to the Ospreys 25-19, the Mammoths came back to win three straight sets to seal the deal. Senior captain Carly Cooper ’24 provided the spark when needed, and Renee Liou ’26 came up with the set-winning points. Chideraa Ngwadom ’27 also accounted for 10 kills and two blocks in the win.

The final match of the weekend for the Mammoths was against No. 11 NYU.  Both teams battled in the first set, exchanging rallies until NYU ultimately pulled away to win 25-21. Papalia’s aces and first-year Sophie Reed’s ’27 serves were difference makers in keeping the Mammoths in the game. Cooper contributed 29 assists on the day, seeming always to be in the right place at the right time. Although the Mammoths would fall to Violets in three sets, they rallied and showed their perseverance in keeping the match tight.

Looking to rebound after a hard weekend, the Mammoths returned home to take on Wheaton College (Mass.) at Lefrak. However, it was not the team’s night on Tuesday, losing another tough game to the Lyons in straight sets. After a close first set which the Mammoths lost by two points, 25-23, Wheaton pulled away, winning the next two sets by 8- and 11-point margins respectively to take the match 3-0. Ngwadom led the Mammoths in kills with seven on the night, closely followed by Allie McLaughlin ’27 with six. Cooper again paced the Mammoths with 10 assists, and Papalia put in another stellar showing, leading the team with 24 digs on a night where not much went their way.  

The Mammoths open their NESCAC slate away at Hamilton on Friday, Sept. 15, before heading to Middlebury the following day for back-to-back conference contests.

Cross Country

Both cross country teams opened their seasons this weekend, placing in the top two at the Smith Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 9. The No. 11 women’s cross country team opened their season with a victory, and the No. 28 men placed second.

On the women’s side, all five scorers finished in the top 15. First-year Nikki Chopra ’27 led the way, finishing her debut-race in second place; She finished in 19:35.4, only 1.1 seconds behind the race-winner from Smith. Fellow first-year Daphne Witherell ’27 finished sixth in her debut, and Bella Lozier ’26 placed a collegiate-best seventh. Competing in her first cross country race since 2021, Annika Paylor ’24 also posted a collegiate-best finish, crossing the line in ninth place. Rounding out the scoring for Amherst was another first-year, Keira Hodum ’27, who took 13th place in her first race as a Mammoth.

The men’s team was just as successful, with their young lineup coming off the line hard. First-years Harrison Dow ’27 and Stan Craig ’27 placed fourth and fifth, respectively, in their first collegiate race. Dow crossed the finish line of the five-kilometer course in 16:15.4 with Craig finishing just four seconds later. Nick Edwards-Levin ’25 matched his collegiate-best finish, placing tenth, and first-year Sam Young ’27 came in just behind, finishing in 11th place in his debut race. Fellow first-year Brice Shearburn ’27 was the final Mammoth scorer, taking 14th place as the first of five consecutive Mammoth finishers: Emmett McGrath ’26, Harrison Talcott ’27, Ben Davis ’26, and Parker Boyle ’27 took the next four positions.

The Mammoths return to action at Little Three Championships this Saturday, Sept. 16 in Middletown, Conn., with the races set to begin at 10 a.m.

Men’s Golf

First-years lead the way as the men’s golf team finished 12th out of 24 teams at the Duke Nelson Invitational, played at the Myhre Golf Course at Middlebury. The Mammoths shot 307 (+23) in Saturday's first round on the par-71 course and shaved eight strokes off that score for a 299 (+15) second day to record a two-day team score of 606 (+38).

First-years Leland Tsai ’27 and Rhys Burgess ’27 led the way in their collegiate debuts: Tsai carded a 149 (+7) on Sunday to finish tied for 25th place after starting his collegiate career with a 2-over-73 on Saturday. His two-day score included a tournament-high 29 pars. Burgess started his second round on the back nine, carding a birdie in his first hole of the day and improving his Saturday score by three strokes to finish with a total score of 151 (+9) and tying for 34th place. Mark Vitels ’26 and Paari Kaviyarasu ’26 both scored 153 (+11) on the weekend and tied for 45th. Kaviyarasu sunk five birdies on Sunday to score a 3-over-74 in the second round. Tommy Whitley ’24, the final Mammoth competitor, improved by four strokes to score a 76 (+5) on day two, tying for 72nd place with a 14-over-156 on the weekend.

The Mammoths are back in action at the Williams Invitational this weekend, Sept. 16 and 17, at Taconic Golf Club in Williamstown, Massachusetts.