KEENE, N.H. – The top-ranked Amherst College men's soccer team is set to return to the Third Round of the NCAA Championship for the 10th straight season, as the Mammoths shut out No. 25 Ithaca College in the sides first meeting since 1997 behind a two-goal first half Sunday afternoon at Dr. Ron Butcher Field.
"Ithaca was a Top-25 team for most of this season for a reason," commented head coach Justin Serpone. "I thought we played really well in the first half but they put us under pressure in the second half."
The victory moves Amherst to 16-1-2 on the season, while Ithaca finishes their 2019 campaign with a 13-6-2 overall ledger. Advancing to the next round of Championship play, the Mammoths will face off against Rowan (12-5-4) - who upset No. 15 Mary Washington in the Second Round - next Saturday at home on Hitchcock Field. Opening kickoff is slated for 11:00AM.
"Rowan is one of the most decorated programs in college soccer," noted Serpone. "They have come up strong at the end of the season. Saturday should be a great game."
Finding the back of the net twice in the first 35 minutes of action, the early production stood as the lone goals of the bout as Amherst picked up their ninth shut out of the year and the program's 25th shut out in the national postseason to remain one of 16 teams left playing in Division III.
"Our seniors were awesome this weekend. All four of them had big moments," said Serpone. "Cutler Coleman and Dane Lind arguably played their best games of the season today. Seniors need be play well this time of year for your team to advance. That's exactly what our guys did."
Converting on his third penalty kick of the season, sophomore German Giammattei potted his ninth game-winner in the 18th minute, sneaking his attempt from the dot past the Bombers' keeper following an Ithaca foul in the box.
Commenting on what Giammattei has accomplished so far this fall, Serpone expounded, "If there's a better player in the country than German, I can't imagine how good that player would have to be."
Adding to the board before the intermission, Dane Lind '20 hit nylon for the second time in as many games to give the Mammoths an insurance score with an assist from Sebastian Derby '21. Handling a cross from Derby just inside the box, Lind ripped a shot under the bar for his ninth goal of the fall.
Ithaca's best chance to avoid the clean sheet came with 19:46 remaining in regulation. Looking to capitalize off a corner kick, Brendan Lebitsch redirected the ball to an open Kevin Turi, however his blast towards net went inches wide left.
Denying all four of the Bombers' shots on frame, sophomore Bernie White improved to 14-1-1 in between the pipes for the Mammoths, while Max Lichtenstein (12-6-2) made eight stops for Ithaca in his final contest for the visitors.
A 9-1 advantage in shots in the first half propelled the Mammoths to a 16-8 and 10-4 edge in shots and shots on target at game's end, respectively, while Amherst held a 5-4 edge in corner kicks.
Improving their all-time NCAA Championship ledger to 31-11-11, Amherst will look to push past the Sweet 16 for the first time since their national title run in 2015 when they take on Rowan as Sectional hosts next weekend.
"Our goal heading into this weekend was to get back to Amherst next Saturday and that's what we were able to do," Serpone concluded. "There is something special about Hitchcock Field in November."