MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – A late push by the Mammoths to get on board was ultimately thwarted by the Panthers as the No. 10 Amherst College men's soccer team suffered its first loss of the season, 1-0 to Middlebury College Saturday afternoon at South Street Field.
"Credit goes to Middlebury for competing hard today. They were an NCAA team last year and were defending their home turf," said head coach Justin Serpone. "There aren't a lot of chances in NESCAC games so you can't afford to make a mistake. We made one and they capitalized on it."
With the setback, Amherst falls to 2-1-0 on the season and to 1-1-0 in league play, while Middlebury improves to 1-1-1 overall (1-1-0 NESCAC). The Mammoths return to the field on Saturday, Sept. 22 when they battle archrival Williams in their home opener beginning at 2:30 p.m.
In a hard-fought and physical contest, the scoring chances were limited in the opening half. The only shot on net in the first 45 minutes came just three minutes into the bout, with Panther Drew Goulart creating space and putting a shot on target that was turned away by Mammoths' keeper Michael Stone '21.
Matteo Mangiardi '21 set up Amherst's best chance of the first stanza with under four minutes remaining before the horn. Working his way along the end line, Mangiardi sent a low cross into Middlebury's goalmouth, however Michael McFarlane was able to clear the ball to safety before any damage could be done.
Tallying what stood as the game-winner in the 71st minute, Henry Wilhelm netted the Panthers' first goal of 2018 on an unassisted effort to give the home team a 1-0 edge. Not giving up on the play and jumping on a loose ball inside the box, Wilhelm directed a low, hard shot just inside the far left post with 18:50 remaining in regulation.
The Mammoths made a strong push for the equalizer with time winding down, racking up five shot attempts in the final 10 minutes of play, however the closest they came to finding nylon was a header by Sebastian Derby '21 with 7:48 on the clock that Panther netminder Matthew Hyer was just able to get his hands on.
In between the pipes, Stone (L, 2-1-0) finished the day with five saves for Amherst in the losing effort, while Hyer (W, 1-1-1) recorded four stops for Middlebury in the win.
The tight match saw the hosts hold a slim advantage in both shots and corner kicks, 14-13 and 3-1, respectively, while the Panthers were whistled for 17 infractions compared to the Mammoths' 16 fouls.
"It's been a long time since we've worn our white uniforms and competed on Hitchcock Field. Saturday can't come soon enough," noted Serpone.