AMHERST, Mass. – In a physical contest, a penalty kick goal stood as the difference maker as the No. 10 Amherst College men's soccer team opened the 2017 season with a 1-0 victory over Bowdoin College Saturday afternoon at Hitchcock Field.
"I was proud at how many people contributed in key moments today," commented head coach Justin Serpone. "That's what Amherst soccer is all about- whether it's 90 mins or 1 min, every play and ever role matters."
With the win, Amherst opens the season 1-0-0 overall and 1-0-0 in NESCAC action, while the Polar Bears fall to 1-1-0 on the year (0-1-0 NESCAC). Amherst returns to action Saturday, Sept. 16 when they host Middlebury beginning at 12 p.m.
Amherst tallied what stood as the game's lone goal with 23:39 on the clock in the first stanza, with the Mammoths drawing a penalty shot opportunity following a handball inside the goalie box. Tasked with taking the ensuing shot, Fikayo Ajayi '19 drilled the attempt past the diving Polar Bear keeper.
Looking to double the Mammoths lead in the 27th minute, Weller Hlinomaz '18 powered a shot on frame, but Stevie Van Siclen proved up to the challenge, and recorded an stellar kick save as his body dove in the opposite direction.
Van Siclen continued to frustrate Amherst with 6:25 remaining in the half, as he ran out the far right edge of the box to smother the ball and thwart an attempt by Gabe Gitler '21.
The Mammoths kept the pressure on Bowdoin after halftime, playing aggressive, shut down defense. "There are a lot of good players in our league but Luke Nguyen '19 is special," said Serpone. "He was all over the place today."
Jake Stenquist earned a solid scoring chance for the visitors at the 82nd minute following a well-placed corner kick by Ethan Ellsworth and two Bowdoin headers. Finding the ball at his feet, Stenquist sailed a shot inches above the crossbar.
Stenquist tried for the equalizer one final time with the clock winding down, racing towards a ball that was lofted over the heads of the Amherst defense, but goalkeeper Lee Owen '18 made the correct read on the play and was able to slide tackle the ball to safety as the Mammoths held on to the 1-0 victory.
"It was a good start, but it's just the beginning," noted Serpone. "We have a long way to go and we're going to have to be even better to keep up with Middlebury next Saturday."
- Owen (1-0) made three stops for Amherst in the winning effort in between the pipes, while Van Siclen (1-1) recorded seven saves for the Polar Bears.
- The Mammoths were whistled for 21 infractions in the contest, while Bowdoin finished with 15 fouls.
- Amherst owned the advantage in both corners and shots, edging the Polar Bears, 8-5 and 9-6, respectively.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE
This year, Amherst LEADS, in conjunction with Amherst men's soccer, is making an effort to highlight some of the incredible achievements of our talented students, faculty and staff at home athletic events. At today's game, recently retired Amherst political science Professor William Taubman was spotlighted. A 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner in Biography, Taubman recently published his new book, Gorbachev: His Life and Times about Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and last president of the Soviet Union. Professor Taubman's book is set to be reviewed in this Sunday's edition of the New York Times (Sept. 9).