Men's Soccer Closes Out 2018 with Loss to Tufts in NCAA Sweet 16

Men's Soccer Closes Out 2018 with Loss to Tufts in NCAA Sweet 16

MEDFORD, Mass. – Matched up against conference foe Tufts University in their ninth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division III Championship Sweet 16, the Amherst College men's soccer team was unable to find nylon in a hard fought battle as they fell to the Jumbos, 3-0 Saturday afternoon at Bello Field.

"We never want to lose by one goal, especially in an elimination game," said Mammoths head coach Justin Serpone. "Once they scored that first goal our mindset became, we need to make sure this game has another goal in it one way or another. Unfortunately for us, they got it."

With the loss, Amherst closes out the 2018 season with a 14-5-1 overall ledger, while Tufts improves to 15-0-3 on the year and advances to the Elite Eight. 

"I'm really proud of our team and proud of the year we had after a tough start," continued Serpone. "College sports shouldn't be about wins and losses but rather what you learn from winning and losing." 

One of Amherst's best chances of the bout came at the 51:11 mark, with Conner Mieth robbing senior Luke Nguyen of a highlight reel score. Nguyen teamed up with Fikayo Ajayi '19 to gain space for the chance, with the duo utilizing some tic-tac passing to get Nguyen alone at the top right of the box. Aiming for the top left corner, Nguyen blasted a shot on frame, however Mieth made an athletic jumping save to punch the ball to safety.

Tallying all three goals in the second half, Brett Rojas got things rolling for the Jumbos in the 56th minute with an assist from Travis Van Brewer. Setting up the scoring play with two short passes across the top of the box, Van Brewer found Rojas on the right side who sent a blast off the near post and over the goal line. 

"Tufts was great today," noted Serpone. "They were very good on first and second balls and their first goal was terrific. We'll be rooting for them moving forward."

Doubling the home team's edge at the 78:57 mark, Zachary Seigelstein potted an unassisted tally to give Tufts a two-goal cushion. Testing the Amherst keeper, Bernie White '22 dove to his left to come up with an incredible stop on a shot by Derek Enge from point blank range, however the rebound bounced right to Zachary Seigelstein who volleyed a shot into the nylon.

Jarod Glover logged a final insurance score for the Jumbos with 12:41 remaining in regulation, tapping a shot into wide open net to capitalize on a miscue by the Amherst keeper who came out to the top of the box in a bid to smother the ball. 

In between the pipes, White (12-3-1) registered five saves in the losing effort for the Mammoths, while Conner Mieth (15-0-3) made two stops for the Jumbos in the win.

Tufts owned the edge in shot attempts and corner kicks, 17-9 and 7-3, respectively, and were whistled for 10 fouls, while Amherst racked up eight infractions.

"This Senior class has been amazing for the last four years," concluded Serpone. "They won an NCAA Championship, a NESCAC Championship and made three other Sweet Sixteen's.  More importantly, they were amazing leaders and people off the field, which is most important.  I'm grateful to have coached them."

In Oct. 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 & 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.