AMHERST, Mass. – Shutting out Little III rival and eighth-seeded Wesleyan University, 2-0, Saturday afternoon at Hitchcock Field to advance to the NESCAC Championship Semifinals for the third time in four years, the top-seeded Amherst College men's soccer team earned the right to host the final weekend of the NESCAC season for the second straight fall.
"We knew Wesleyan was going to give us a hard match today," commented head coach Justin Serpone. "They are well coached and haven't given up many goals all year. We were on our heels in the beginning of the game and that's a testament to their energy right from the start."
With the victory, Amherst improves to 14-0-2 on the season, while Wesleyan closes out 2019 with a 6-7-3 overall ledger. Returning to the field next Saturday, Nov. 9, Amherst is set to host sixth-seeded Middlebury in a NESCAC Semifinals bout. Kickoff is slated for 11 AM. No. 2 Tufts and No. 4 Williams will face off in the second Semifinal contest at Hitchcock Field at 1:30 PM.
Looking to get on the board in the 28th minute, senior Dane Lind sent a rocket from 25-yards out on target, however a diving, full-extension stop by Liam Devanny kept the sides deadlocked early.
Opening scoring with 14:20 remaining in the first half, Lind potted what stood as his third career game-winner on an unassisted strike. A long throw in into the box by Bryce Johnson '21 set up the scoring play, with a clearing attempt by the Cardinals landing at the foot of Lind at the top of the box who volleyed a shot off a defender and under the bar.
"Dane is such a complete attacking player," said Serpone. "He can score, he can assist, he can hit set pieces and he presses all game long. He's had a really good career but a great senior season."
Two of Wesleyan's three shots on frame in the first half came in the final five minutes before the break, but sophomore Bernie White was a brick wall for the home team, coming away with saves on shots from Mason Davisson and Sam Keenan.
The Cardinals' best chance to avoid the shut out came at the 51:35 mark, when a set play off a free kick that featured two short passes gave Jack Wolf a chance on the right side, however his waist high volley was turned away.
Clinching his first multi-goal game in the postseason, Lind added an Amherst insurance tally in the 53rd minute with an assist from German Giammattei '22 to move into second on the NESCAC points leader board (24). One-timing a perfect foot-to-foot pass from Giammattei as he cut across the box with a defender on his back, Lind snuck a shot inside the near right post to improve the Mammoths all-time record in the NESCAC Quarterfinals to 12-6-0.
The Mammoths owned the edge in shots and shots on frame, 21-15 and 12-5, respectively, and were whistled for 18 fouls, while the Cardinals held the advantage in corner kicks, 5-2, and were called for 14 infractions.
Registering five saves, White (12-0-2) earned the win for Amherst in between the pipes, while Devanny (5-7-3) made 10 stops for Wesleyan in the loss.
"We're happy to be back at home next weekend and Middlebury is playing to extend their season," Serpone concluded. "They are physical and organized and we'll need to stay focused on what we're good at and worry about us, not anything else."