AMHERST, Mass. – Sealing their ticket to the National Semifinals, the top-ranked Amherst College men's soccer team battled through heavy rain and a field change at the midway point to emerge as sectional champions as the Mammoths' first half onslaught paved the way for a 3-1 victory over No. 12 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Saturday afternoon in NCAA Championship Elite Eight action.
NCAA INTERACTIVE BRACKET | AMHERST NCAA HISTORY
Outscoring opponents 13-2 through the first four rounds of the national postseason, Amherst is set to make its return to the Final Four for the fourth time in program history (2015, 2008, 1997), and for the first time since their national title run in 2015. The victory also sets up a potential career milestone for Mammoths' head coach Justin Serpone in Greensboro, with today's win marking his 199th at the helm of the men's soccer program since taking over the reins in 2007.
Seniors Cutler Coleman and Dane Lind and Head Coach Justin Serpone Talk About Sunday's Quarterfinals Win.
Defending their home turf for the final time this season, Amherst came roaring out of the gate to give Hitchcock Field a proper send off as sophomore German Giammattei needed just 6:09 to record his 23rd goal of the year and move into fourth overall in the category in Division III. Tracking down the ball on the right side and making a move near the end line, Ada Okorogheye '23 sent a cross into the middle of the box that was headed into the nylon by Giammattei.
Having scored in each of the Mammoths' four NCAA Championship matchups, senior Dane Lind continued his hot streak up front in the 23rd minute as he potted his 11th marker of the fall, and what stood as the game-winner, with an assist from Cutler Coleman' 20 to give Amherst an early 2-0 edge. Cleaning up Coleman's well-placed, low shot from the top of the box that forced a diving, fingertip save, Lind beat his defender to the rebound for the goal.
Feeding off the energy of the memorable start, Sebastian Derby '22 tallied his second score of the 2019 national postseason four minutes later to give the Mammoths a 3-0 cushion just 28 minutes into the bout. Capitalizing on a chip by Lind towards the box and a quick one-touch by Giammattei to give the junior space, Derby connected with the ball on a laser that deflected off the keeper and inside the right post.
Closing out the game with the advantage in shots (31-13), shots on frame (15-6) and corner kicks (7-2), the Mammoths final stats were bolstered by the dominant first half that saw the home team outshoot the Engineers, 18-5, and lead in corner opportunities by 6-0 margin.
Moving to nearby Gooding Field for the second half after it was deemed that the grass surface had become unplayable during to the downpour, the Mammoths continued to test the RPI keeper, once again forcing six saves.
Thwarting the shut out with 20 minutes remaining in regulation, the Engineer's lone goal of the day came off a corner from the right side at the 70:11 mark as Austin Betterly netted his fifth score of the fall. Lofting a ball towards the box, Arik Duncan redirected Michael Harten's corner dish towards Betterly in the goalie box who sent a no-look volley with a defender on his back into the top left corner.
Denying five of the Engineers' shots on target, sophomore Bernie White improved to 16-1-1 in between the pipes for the Mammoths, while Luke Brezak (10-1-4) made 10 stops for RPI in the loss in 72:32 before Matt LaBranche stepped in to close out his collegiate career with two saves.
Improving their 2019 season ledger to 18-1-2, the Mammoths now stand at 33-11-11 all-time in the NCAA Tournament dating back to the program's first appearance in the Championships in 1993, while RPI closes out its record-breaking year with a 16-3-4 overall mark.
THE FINAL FOUR
The Mammoths (18-1-2) will have 12 days to prepare for their National Semifinals contest, with Amherst next taking the field on December 6th under the lights at UNCG Soccer Stadium in Greensboro, N.C. Opening kickoff against fellow sectional champion Centre College (20-3-1) is slated for 5:45PM EST.
Joining the Mammoths and the Colonels in the Final Four is familiar foe No. 5 Tufts University (18-2-2) and No. 2 Calvin University (23-1-1) – with the teams clashing in the second of the two National Semifinal games at 7:45PM.
A National Champion will be crowned the following day, with the final Division III men's soccer matchup of 2019 to be played on December 7th at 7PM.