AMHERST, Mass. – The Purple & White evened the game in the 55th minute and owned a 20-12 edge in shots, however the second-ranked Amherst College men's soccer team fell to Brandeis University, 3-1 on penalty kicks after playing to a 1-1 double overtime tie in NCAA Championship Sweet Sixteen play Saturday afternoon at Hitchcock Field.
"I told the Seniors after he game that I was just as disappointed as they were but when I's all said and done, we accomplished something together last December that you can't put a value on," commented head coach Justin Serpone. " We'll be heartbroken about today's result for a while but every December 5th for the rest of my life I'll remember what that class was such a big part of."
With the loss, Amherst is eliminated from tournament play and concludes the 2016 season with an overall record of 17-1-2, while Brandeis moves to 12-5-4 on the year and advances to play Rutgers University-Newark in Elite Eight action on Sunday, Nov. 20.
"Part of winning a National Championship is defending it, and I thought we defended it hard and defended it well," said Serpone. "We got everyone's best game this year and found a way to be one of the best teams in the country. Everyone thought we'd come back "down to earth" this season after losing last year's senior class –but this team cared so much and worked so hard that we never lost a beat."
Both sides came out strong to open the game, with each team taking three shots in the first 15 minutes of action.
Brandeis was first to strike, getting on the board at the 17:45 mark to take a 1-0 lead over the Purple & White. Dribbling down the right sideline, Stephen DePietto gained positioning and sent a pass across the box to Evan Jastremski who was racing towards the far post. Getting his foot on the pass, Jastremski one-touched the ball into space before ripping a shot past the diving Amherst netminder.
Fikayo Ajayi '19 nearly responded seven minutes later has he won the battle for a 50-50 ball 15 yards out and rocketed a shot towards goal, but his attempt sailed inches wide of the net.
Keeping up the offensive pressure, Amherst once again had a close call with 9:33 remaining in the first half, with Dane Lind '20 and Kieran Bellew '18 teaming up on an odd-man rush. Drawing the defender to him at the top left of the box, Lind dished a heel pass to a wide-open Bellew in the middle of the box, but he was taken down by a Brandeis defender before he could get a shot off in a highly contested play.
Starting the second half where they left off, Amherst evened the score at 1-1 at the 55:33 mark, with Ajayi tallying his third goal of the season. Streaking down the right sideline, Christopher Martin '17 cut back on a defender and sent short pass to Ajayi who drilled a shot into the bottom left corner of the goal.
With time winding down, Andrew Allen had Brandeis' final scoring opportunity of regulation, juking a defender near the top of the box with 2:49 to play and launching a hard shot towards net, but the attempt went wide right.
Offensively dominant in the first overtime period, Amherst owned a 4-0 edge in shots - however the Purple & White's best chance in extra minutes came with 6:30 remaining in the second overtime. Gathering the ball at the top left of the box after beating a defender, Bellew drove a shot towards net that rang off the right post as the game finished tied at 1-1 after 110 minutes.
The Judges claimed the win in penalty kicks, as Woodhouse proved solid in between the pipes for Brandeis, turning away three of Amherst's four attempts. Lee Owen '18 registered one stop during penalty kicks, getting his hand on an attempt by Josh Ocel.
"I'm really happy for Brandeis and their entire group," said Serpone. "They really battled today and should be proud of the effort. Viera and Woodhouse were awesome today. It was a really fun college soccer game to be part of."
- In goal, Owen (16-1-2) recorded three saves and one stop during penalty kicks, while Ben Woodhouse (12-5-4) made 10 saves for Brandeis and an impressive three stops during penalty kicks.
- Amherst owned a 20-12 edge in shot differential and a 7-2 advantage in corner kicks in the game.
- Amherst was whistled for 15 infractions in the matchup, while the Judges were called for 12 fouls.
- Orozco and Ajayo led the Purple & White in shots with three each, while a quartet of players each took two shots each.
- Andrew Allen took three shots to lead the Brandeis offense, while four other Judges each took two shots apiece.
QUOTE FROM THE COACH
- "We haven't lost two games in a season since 2011 which is an amazing statistic. The standard for the program couldn't be higher and we'll work hard to keep it rolling forward."