AMHERST, Mass. – Shaking off a late goal by the Beavers to force overtime, first-year Ada Okorogheye played hero for the Mammoths in the 97th minute as the forward netted his second score of the game to lift the No. 6 Amherst College men's soccer team past Babson College, 3-2, in a hard-fought battle at Hitchcock Field Tuesday afternoon.
"I thought we showed a lot of resolve today coming back from being down a goal," commented head coach Justin Serpone. "It's hard to criticize a win over such a good team but we have a long, long, long way to go if we want to make the NESCAC playoffs and play postseason soccer."
With the win, Amherst improves to 3-0-0 on the season, while Babson falls to 2-2-0 overall. Amherst returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 14 when they travel to Hamilton College for a 1:30 PM conference clash.
"By any measure, Babson is one of the top New England programs in the history of DIII Men's soccer," noted Serpone. "We came in today knowing it was going to be a battle and that's exactly what it was. Credit to Babson for having such good energy and making it such a fun game to be a part of."
First on the board, the visitors took an early 1-0 edge at the 14:40 mark, with Youcef Ziad capitalizing on a 40-yard pass from Ben Holman. Collecting the ball near midfield, Ziad boxed out his defender to gain a slight angle before winning a 50-yard sprint downfield and powering a shot into the bottom right corner.
After several close calls in the opening half, the Mammoths finally broke through in the 52nd minute to even the score at 1-1 with Okorogheye teaming up with Andrew Barkidjija '22 for the score. Gathering a leading pass just inside Beaver territory, Okorogheye turned on the jets and drove down to the top of the box before gaining space with a tight turn and sending a perfectly placed shot through four defenders and past the outstretched keeper.
Both sides had solid scoring chances through the next 20 minutes of action, with Babson's Liam Hanlon's sliding redirect off a free kick just finding the fingertips of the Mammoths' goalie and a seemingly go-ahead score by German Giammattei '22 off a rebound being called back for offsides.
Taking their first lead of the contest with 12:57 remaining in regulation, Dane Lind '20 notched his second goal of the fall off a feed from Giammattei. Drawing two defenders, Giammattei dished a back-heel pass to an open Lind who drilled a shot into the top, opposite right corner.
Countering with time winding down, Babson deadlocked the sides at two all with 6:44 on the clock following a free kick from the top right corner of the box. Winning the battle for positioning in front of the net, Alex Crompton's header off the kick rang off the cross bar in a near miss before the ball found its way to Mitchell Collins on the right side who made the most of a second header opportunity to force overtime.
Playing hero for the Mammoths at the 97:03 mark, Okorogheye netted his second goal of the bout and third of the season with an assist from Bryce Johnson '21. Executing on an odd-man rush, three quick passes opened up space for Okorogheye near the penalty hash who slid a shot into the bottom left corner.
In between the pipes, Bernie White '22 (3-0-0) recorded four saves for Amherst in the winning effort, while Steven Heintzelman (1-2-0) made eight stops for Babson in the loss.
Okorogheye led all players with six shots on target, while the Mammoths held the advantage in shots (30-12), shots on goal (11-6) and corner kicks (13-2) and were whistled for 22 fouls. The Beavers were called for 12 infractions on the day.
"The good thing was that we have six or seven attacking players that can make something out of nothing and today it was Ada and Dane's turn to make plays," finished Serpone. "I'm really happy that Ada has started off so well because it's not an easy transition moving across an ocean and starting a new school with new teammates. Huge goals today, huge."
Today's contest marked the first matchup between the programs since 2003, with the Mammoths improving to 14-4-6 all-time against the Beavers with the victory.