No. 7 Amherst Pulls Away from No. 10 Wesleyan to Clinch Spot in NCAA Quarterfinals

No. 7 Amherst Pulls Away from No. 10 Wesleyan to Clinch Spot in NCAA Quarterfinals

AMHERST, Mass. – Pulling away in the final 12 minutes, the Mammoths outscored the Cardinals 6-2 down the stretch to complete a 2-0 sweep of their Little III rival on the season, as the No. 7 Amherst College men's lacrosse team defeated defending national champions No. 10 Wesleyan University, 16-13 Saturday afternoon at Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium in a NCAA Championship Third Round Clash. 

With the win, Amherst improves to 16-3 on the season and advances to the programs' first Quarterfinals tilt since 2016, while Wesleyan closes out 2019 with a 13-4 overall ledger. Amherst returns to the field on Wednesday, May 15 and will play the winner of No. 3 Tufts and Stevenson in the NCAA Quarterfinals. 

First to strike, Grant Chryssicas '21 got the Mammoths on the board 1:47 into the contest, taking the ball 30 yards downfield before sending a bounce shot into the nylon.

Doubling the Mammoths lead six minutes later, Evan Wolf '10 tallied an unassisted score as he cut across the offensive zone and powered a laser into the top corner.

Breaking through at the 4:54 mark, Zander Kotsen set up Christian Barker for the score to net the Cardinals' first goal of the day while up a man, before Wesleyan struck twice in the final minute to own a 3-2 lead after 15 minutes of play. 

A back-and-forth second quarter saw both sides add five scores to the board, as the visitors held onto an 8-7 edge at intermission.

Goals by Tom Martello and Ronan Jacoby sandwiched a Jackson Herrick '20 score in the first five minutes, before Colin Minicus '20 tucked in a feed from Wolf as he was checked to the ground at the 8:12 mark.

His second of three goals in the period, Herrick found the back of the net once again for the Mammoths less than two minutes later, as he juked out his defender and dove across the crease for his 13th goal of the spring. 

A man-up snipe by Jacoby regained the Cardinals one-goal edge, before Jacoby made it back-to-back scores off a dish from Scott Irwin 1:24 later. 

Responding with back-to-back goals of their own, Amherst deadlocked the sides for the third time on the day at seven all. 

His first of a game-high four scores, Matt Solberg '20 curled out of the right corner and sent a shot just under the bar with 2:30 on the clock, before Herrick spun on a defender and powered a shot into the top corner, stick-side at the 44 second mark. 

Wesleyan tallied the final goal before halftime, as Kotsen bounced a shot past the Mammoths' keeper with nine seconds to play to give the Cardinals a one-goal lead.

The third stanza was a low scoring one, with the Mammoths outscoring the visitors 3-1 to take a 10-9 lead heading into the final quarter.

Minicus headlined the quarter offensively for Amherst, setting up on the far post and sending a pinpoint pass from Wolf into the nylon at the 12:22 mark, before capitalizing on a dish from Solberg 30 seconds later.

Jimmy McAfee '20 closed out the Mammoths' 3-0 run, as he sprinted 90 yards downfield following a save by Gib Versfeld '21 and absorbed a hit before sending a shot into the bottom left corner. 

Kotsen had the lone Cardinals goal of the third, with Kotsen and Barker playing catch and shoot to get Wesleyan back within one at the 5:14 mark. 

Regaining the lead out of the gate in the fourth quarter, Cardinals' Kotsen and Barker each found the back of the net in the opening two minutes to make it 11-10. 

A highlight reel save by Versfeld on diving attempt by Colin Uyeki while fighting off a penalty at the 12:35 mark sparked a big momentum shift for the Mammoths, as Amherst rattled off four straight goals and outscored the visitors 6-2 in the final 11:19 to clinch the 16-13 victory. 

Potting two unassisted goals in 38 seconds, Solberg sent two shots into the nylon to give Amherst a lead they did not relinquish.

Just beating the shot clock, Jack Norton '19 hit Wolf with a feed on the far post to make it 13-11 with 6:20 remaining, before Dylan Finazzo '20 did it by himself off a faceoff win with a bounce shot six seconds later.

A Tom Martello goal following a scrum in front of the net got the Cardinals back within two, however Amherst countered with daggers from Jon Coffey '20 and Solberg to take a four-goal edge with 2:18 to go. 

What stood as the final goal of the contest came at the 48 second mark as Sean Penney logged an unassisted strike, however the late push by Wesleyan was not enough as Amherst secured the three-goal win.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • In between the pipes, Versfeld (3-2) recorded 12 saves for Amherst in the winning effort, while Otto Bohan (13-4) made 13 stops for the Cardinals in the loss.
  • Solberg netted a game-high four goals and added an assist for five total points, while Minicus and Herrick each potted three scores. Finazzo and Coffey led the matchup in ground balls with nine and seven, respectively, while James Crovatto '21 led all players with four caused turnovers.
  • The Mammoths owned the edge in face offs (19-32) and ground balls (41-31) and finished 0-for-1 up a man, while Wesleyan owned the advantage in shots (43-42) and went 2-for-10 on man-up chances.