Amherst Pulls Out 6-5 Thriller Over Springfield

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College men's lacrosse team played host to local rival Springfield College this evening at Gooding Field in Amherst, Mass. Amherst held on for a 6-5 win, improving to 5-6 on the year, while the Pride dropped to 5-5 with the loss. 

The Lord Jeff-Pride rivalry has gained recent popularity with a pair of thrilling one-goal decisions taking place in the last two years. In 2007, Amherst pulled out a 10-9 win, scoring the game-winner with :13 seconds to play, before edging the Pride 11-10 in overtime last season.

After a sloppy first five minutes of the game, Amherst scored the first goal with 10:00 to play in the opening quarter. After a steal near midfield by Brett Miller (Wantagh, NY), Tom McDonnell (Manhasset, NY) found Thomas Foote (Newtonville, MA) on the doorstep for the opener. Amherst nearly doubled the lead on an extra-man opportunity minutes later, but a Miller goal was called back for being in the crease. 

Springfield tied the game at 1-1 with 24.6 seconds to play in the first quarter, as Cory Schwarzkopf beat Amherst goalie Matt Pietroforte (Brooklyn, NY) with a transition goal. The Lord Jeffs responded just seven seconds later, as McDonnell scored his first goal of the night on a fast break coming out of the face-off.

With 11:20 to play in the second quarter, Springfield's Jason Farrell was sent into the penalty box for pushing. Amherst wasted no time scoring on the man-up situation, as McDonnell found Miller for the score to open up a 3-1 lead. Springfield closed the gap to 3-2 when Jake Beebe found Mike Delia with a skip pass for a score with seven-and-a-half minutes to play in the second. 

Amherst responded once again, scoring just half a minute later when first-year Cole Cherney (Chappaqua, NY) found Luke Arnold on the crease for a fast score. The Pride scored the half's final goal with 2:05 to play, as Ryan Thibodeau netted a long-range shot from straight away.

Neither team scored in the early going of the third quarter, and with 9:30 to play Amherst held a 6-on-4 man-up advantage. Just after causing a turnover, the Pride were whistled for being off-sides, handing possession back to Amherst. Just as Springfield killed the penalty, Ferrell was called for a slash to give Amherst one more crack at the man-up. As the penalty expired, Luke Arnold (Lincoln, MA) missed with a crank from the restraining line.

With 3:01 to play in the third, Amherst scored the first goal of the second half, as Miller found junior Rob Denious (Bloomfield Hills, MI) on a drive to the cage. The score proved to be the lone goal of the quarter, sending the game into the final frame with the Lord Jeffs leading the Pride, 5-3. 

The fourth quarter followed form, with neither team scoring in the first eight minutes of the period. Springfield picked up a big stop against the Amherst attack and brought the ball up field to set up an isolation play for Thibodeau. The goal didn't come from Thibodeau, but rather on a diving shot by Pat Cavanaugh with 6:07 to play in regulation to close the margin to 5-4.

Springfield tied the game at 5-5, as Delia bounced home a shot with 2:48 to play in the fourth. After the Pride won the ensuing face-off, a Springfield attackman was called for shielding his stick into his chest. Amherst capitalized on the turnover as Arnold rattled the post, before J.T. Milone (Manhasset, NY) picked up the ground ball and dropped it into the empty net with 1:06 to play. 

With 25.5 to play, Springfield was called for a pair of penalties to give Amherst possession and a chance to run out the clock. Despite a scramble at the end, Amherst held on for a 6-5 win, the third straight one-goal victory in the series.

Pietroforte finished the evening with nine saves, while Tom Albano ended with eight saves for the Pride. Amherst will return to action on Saturday at Colby for a 1 p.m. game.