The women’s soccer team finished the season with a NESCAC Championship but the bitter feeling of an early exit from the NCAA DIII Tournament after the team lost to Dickenson College, the second-place finishers in the Centennial Conference on Sunday, Nov. 17. The second-round loss follows a dominant 5-0 victory over Maine Maritime College in the first round.
The contest opened with the characteristic tension of a playoff game. Dickinson, to their credit, played to their strengths from the opening whistle. Amherst is a strong team in possession, while the Red Devils were content to sit back and keep 10 players in front of the ball.
Amherst looked to break down this tactic by feeding the ball out wide and using the wide midfielders, who play much like wingbacks, to cause overlaps.
Rubie Hastie ’22 was particularly adept at causing chaos in the left half-space with her partner in crime Sascha Savitsky ’20.
Amherst had seven shots on target in the first 30 minutes, and Dickinson barely had the ball in the Amherst half of the field.
But as the Mammoths realized they needed to be bolder in their attacks, Dickinson had more chances to attack. In quick succession, however, Dickinson earned a corner kick and then a free kick outside the Amherst box.
Amherst could manage to get a good clearance on the ensuing cross, and a Red Devil eked the ball across the goal line just as the halftime horn sounded.
Deflated, but not beaten, Amherst continued with the original game plan, which, other than on the scoreboard, was working effectively, for all intents and purposes.
Dickinson was even more conservative, barely even sending bodies forward and content hoofing the ball to half-field and reorganizing for an Amherst attack.
Amherst continued to pour on the pressure, tallying seventeen shots in the second half.
Amherst, it seemed, could not find the smidgen of space necessary to get a shot away. Seven of those 17 second half shots were blocked by Dickinson defenders.
As the clock ticked down, Amherst had several key opportunities, including two excellent chances from set pieces. Natalie Landau ’21 curled a shot above the top right corner of the net, just out of the reach of the goalkeeper. Alexa Juarez ’22 had an excellent, driven chance on a free kick just outside the box, but the Dickinson goalie made a gravity-defying save to keep the Red Devils in the lead. Unfortunately, Amherst was unable to crack the Dickinson defense, and as the clock expired, so did the Mammoths’ championship hopes.
The Mammoths finish their season with a NESCAC championship, the program’s first since 2011. However, the season still ends in disappointment and the bitter sense that perhaps something greater could have been achieved.