AMHERST, Mass. – A score by Andres Pascual-Leone '19 in the 20th minute and a tenacious defensive effort by the Mammoths were enough to earn a NESCAC Championship Quarterfinal victory, as the fourth-seeded Amherst College men's soccer team shut out fifth-seeded Bowdoin College, 1-0 Sunday afternoon at Hitchcock Field.
"We knew today would be a battle," commented head coach Justin Serpone. "In four of the last five seasons Bowdoin won a quarterfinal game on the road. They are a good team with a very good Senior class so we knew nothing would come easy."
With the win, Amherst improves to 12-3-1 on the season, while Bowdoin closes out 2018 with a 9-5-2 overall ledger. With the top three seeds dropping their Quarterfinal matchups, the Mammoths are set to host the final two rounds of the NESCAC Championships and will battle No. 8 Colby at Hitchcock Field on Saturday, Nov. 3 at either 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. in the Semifinals.
"We're happy to be back on Hitchcock Field next weekend," continued Serpone. "Six weeks ago if someone had told me we'd be hosting the NESCAC Semifinals and Finals I wouldn't have believed it. Colby is a really well-coached, tough, talented team. We'll need to be our best next Saturday."
In an evenly played and high energy first half, both sides had stretches of possession to earn solid scoring chances in an exciting opening 45 minutes.
Threating 10 minutes into contest, Bowdoin used a corner kick to set up Jack Shultz, however Bernie White '22 stood strong in between the pipes for the Mammoths as he turned away Shultz' blast from 30 yards out and smothered an attempt on the ensuing rebound to keep the game scoreless.
Responding five minutes later, Dane Lind '20 challenged the Polar Bears' keeper with a volley from point-blank range six yards out, but a great block by the netminder kept the high paced game deadlocked.
Breaking through at the 20:31 mark, Pascual-Leone tallied his first collegiate goal with an assist from Bryce Johnson '21. Capitalizing on the sophomore's signature flip throw in from the right sideline, Johnson connected with Pascual-Leone near the far post who volleyed a shot off the Polar Bear keeper and just over the goal line before a defender was able to clear the ball to safety.
"It was fitting that Andres scored the goal," said Serpone. "He's done so much for our program on and off the field. I'm really happy for him."
Holding Bowdoin's deficit at 1-0, Chris Kingston came through in the clutch for the Polar Bears in the 30th minute as he got his left hand on the ball to make an incredible diving save on a shot by German Giammattei '22 that was heading for the top right corner.
Neither side was able to find nylon in a hard-fought second half, as Amherst came away with the 1-0 shutout victory.
The Mammoths best chance of the second stanza came with 28 minutes remaining, as Lind and Sean Fitzgerald '19 put back-to-back shots on target, but neither attempt was able to slide past the Bowdoin keeper to give the home team a two goal cushion.
Upping the pressure with 17 minutes on the clock, the Bowdoin offense used several impressive individual effort plays to hold possession inside Mammoth territory, however White proved up to the task on shots by Harry Cooper and Charlie Ward to keep the Amherst lead intact.
In between the pipes, White (10-1-1) racked up five saves in the winning effort for the Mammoths, while Kingston (7-4-2) made eight stops for Bowdoin in the loss.
Amherst owned a 19-8 edge in shot attempts, including a 9-5 advantage in shots on frame, and were whistled for 13 fouls, while the Polar Bears held the edge in corner kicks, 6-5, and were called for six infractions.
In October 2018, Amherst proudly recognized Ted W. Beneski '78, P'08 and Laurie M. Beneski P'08 for their extraordinary generosity and commitment to the College by naming the men's and women's soccer program in their honor. The College's naming of the Beneski Soccer Program celebrates the Beneskis' love for Amherst athletics and their longstanding investment in helping Amherst students excel as learners, as players and teammates, and as citizens.