Contact: Melissa Martin '15
AMHERST, Mass. – The top-seeded Amherst College men's lacrosse team held off fifth-seeded Bates College, 10-8 on Saturday afternoon at Pratt Field to advance to the NESCAC Championship title game for the second time in as many years.
With the win, Amherst (16-1) has now set the program's single-season win record, eclipsing the 15-win totals of 2011 and 2014, and will host second-seeded Tufts University (15-2) Sunday afternoon at 12 p.m. at Pratt Field. The Jeffs and Jumbos met in the 2014 championship game with Tufts claiming a 20-13 win. The Purple & White won this year's regular season matchup between the teams, 12-6.
Sophomore Chris Albanese had a game-high four goals and Cody Tranbarger '17 made 17 saves to lead Amherst to its eighth win in as many games. The Bobcats move to 10-5 overall and await a possible at-large bid to the NCAA Division III Championship.
After playing to a 2-2 deadlock in the first quarter that saw Jack Cahill '18 and Dylan Park '16 net goals for Amherst, while Jack Allard tallied both of Bates' markers, the Jeffs scored five of the next eight goals to stake a 7-5 lead at intermission.
Amherst stuck four times in the first seven minutes of the second stanza with goals by Rob Butko '16, Albanese (2), and Park. Albanese's first score was assisted by Quinn Moroney '16, while his second marker came on the extra-man opportunity and was aided by Charlie Gill '16. The Bobcats responded with goals by Conor Henrie, Charlie Fay and Charlie Hildebrand to bring the score to 6-5, however a clutch tally by Kane Haffey '16 with 59 seconds left to play in the half padded the Jeffs' lead to two goals. Connor Sheehan '18 provided the helper on the goal.
The Purple & White never trailed in the second half, with both teams notching two goals in the third quarter and a single goal in the fourth period. Bates came out strong in the third, with Henrie scoring his second of the game at the 13:31 mark. Showing its tenacity, Amherst responded with two goals in the next three minutes, highlighted by a terrific pass from Michael Litner '16 which led to a goal by for Albanese. Haffey added his second goal of the contest before Allard scored with 4:51 left in the third on a dish from Kyle Weber to set the score at 9-7 entering the fourth frame.
Bates pulled to within one late in the final quarter as Weber scored with just over five minutes to play, but Albanese struck once more on the man-advantage with just over four minutes remaining in regulation to give Amherst a 10-8 lead. With 1:34 left in the game, Tranbarger made an incredible save on Andrew Melvin's diving shot, an opportunity that proved to be the Bobcats final threat of the game.
The Jeffs fired 30-of-37 shots on net, while Bates had 25-of-39 shots on target. Joe Faria made 20 saves for the Bobcats in the loss.
Sam Francis led the Bobcats with seven ground balls and was 14-for-17 on faceoffs.