AMHERST, Mass. – Hitting their stride five minutes into the 2020 season opener, the second-ranked Amherst College men's lacrosse team used four-goal efforts from seniors Matt Solberg and Colin Minicus and a shutdown defensive performance in the third quarter to start the spring on a high note as the Mammoths roared past Hamilton College, 16-8, Saturday afternoon at Pratt Field at Lehrman Stadium.
With the win, Amherst starts its season with a 1-0 overall ledger and a 1-0 mark in league play, while Hamilton begins its 2020 campaign at 0-1 (0-1 NESCAC). Amherst returns to action on tomorrow, Sunday, March 1 when they host Western New England in a 1:00PM non-conference clash.
First on the board, the visitors jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the 12:52 mark behind a score from Torben Wunderle before the Mammoths kicked it into gear and went on 4-0 unanswered run as Minicus, Solberg (2), and Jackson Herrick '20 each ripped shots past the Continentals keeper.
The Continentals closed the gap with 39 seconds on the clock, with Henry Hunt converting on a dish from Marc Welch to cut the Amherst lead to 4-2 at the first intermission.
Dominating the second stanza, the Mammoths forced nine turnovers and shut out the visitors in a defensive clinic while adding three more goals (Solberg, Herrick, and Minicus) to the scoresheet to take a 7-2 lead at the half.
Welcoming Harlem Lacrosse and Bronx Lacrosse to the Pioneer Valley for a day of mentoring and fun, fans at Pratt Field enjoyed an equally impressive show at halftime – with the organizations taking to the field for a scrimmage in front the packed crowd after spending the morning with student-athletes, Mammoths' head coach Jon Thompson and Assistant Athletic Director Billy McBride.
The second half of the main event started in similar fashion to the first, with the Continentals putting up a score just over two minutes in – this time by Andrew Cox – and the home team countering with a four-goal push. Minicus sparked the Mammoths' run, netting a score at the 11:47 mark, before PJ Clementi '22, Jimmy McAfee '20 and Jon Coffey '20 each tallied their first goals of the spring.
A Henry Hunt score halted the all-Amherst stretch, with the attackman setting the score at 11-4 with 5:57 on the clock.
The Mammoths closed out the third with two goals inside the final minute, as Dylan Peabody '21 and Solberg each whipped a shot over the goal line.
Tacking on three more markers to start the fourth, Coffey, Minicus and McAfee put the Mammoths out in front, 16-4, before the Continentals strung together four straight goals by Wunderle, Ryan Friedman, and Defeo to tighten the differential to 16-8 at the final buzzer.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Senior captain Chad Simons (1-0) saw the majority of minutes in frame, turning away 11 shots in 55:53 to earn the win for Amherst. Gib Versfeld '21 and Cam Mitchell '21 split the next three minutes to get a taste of the action, while first-year Carson Marano entered for the final minute of the matchup and put up an impressive stop in his collegiate debut for the Mammoths. Max Scheidl (0-1) took the loss for the visitors, racking up 18 saves on the day.
- The Mammoths showed their depth in an impressive performance at the dot, with Dylan Finazzo '20 (14-15), Juan Gonzalez '22 (5-8) and Lawson Brophy '23 (5-5) combining to post an 85.7 win percentage (24-28) in the face off game with only one violation between the trio. Alec Zenker took all 28 face offs for the Continentals.
- Holding momentum the majority of the matchup, Amherst owned the edge in shots (60-35), shots on goal (34-21), and ground balls (40-33) and finished 1-for-2 on man-up opportunities, while Hamilton tallied a score on one of their six man-up chances.