The No. 6 men’s soccer team took to Hitchcock Field against Wesleyan in a quarterfinal match-up on Saturday, Oct. 29, with a spot in the semifinals on the line.
The game began as an even contest, as the two teams spent equal time in their attacking halves, but defensive efforts by both teams kept the score at 0-0. With a strong chance, first-year Ioannis Hadjiyiannis’s ’26 header forced the Wesleyan goalkeeper to make a phenomenal diving save, and junior Declan Sung ’24E cut in from the left wing to pounce on the rebound and took a powerful shot that barely missed the net. The Mammoths entered the second half tied 0-0 but had definitely taken the momentum.
This momentum paid off in the 61st minute, when sophomore Aidan Curtis ’25 netted his fourth goal of the season to give Amherst a crucial 1-0 lead. The play began with classmate Fynn Hayton-Ruffner ’25, who tracked back to win a ball in his defensive third. He then found Curtis on a diagonal ball over the top, who was able to slip it past the keeper despite a powerful challenge from a recovering Cardinal defender.
For the rest of the game, Amherst did not let up on either front, with Niall Murphy ’25, Micah Valadez Bush ’25, and Laurens ten Cate ’25 leading the way offensively and the Mammoth defense keeping the Cardinals off the scoreboard. Goalkeeper and team captain Bernie White ’23E made two key saves to keep the score at 1-0 in favor of Amherst. When the final whistle blew, the Mammoths advanced to the semifinals.
“It was a tough game, but we managed to pull through,” Murphy said. “Keeping a clean sheet is vital, especially in playoff time. The atmosphere on Hitchcock was also electric. We are now focused on preparing for Saturday’s game against Midd. Should be a fun 90 minutes.”
For his play over the last two games, during which he notched two goals and an assist, Curtis was named NESCAC Player of the Week. Despite the honor, Curtis only spoke about his team and looked to the future. “Awards are cool, but honestly I am just happy that the team is playing so well and we are moving on to the next round,” he said. “It was awesome to be able to contribute to a great team victory. No one on our team has won a NESCAC championship, or even made the final, so winning two games next weekend is a big goal of ours.”
With a NESCAC final in sight, the team will travel to No. 2 seed Williams to face the fourth-seeded Panthers in the NESCAC semifinal round on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 1:30 p.m. If they win on Saturday, the Mammoths will face the winner of the other semifinal game — Williams or Connecticut College — in the Championship game on Sunday, Nov. 6, at 12 p.m.