Amherst Downs Hamilton, Advance to Fourth Consecutive Semifinal

Amherst Downs Hamilton, Advance to Fourth Consecutive Semifinal

AMHERST, Mass. -- After a stalemate during regulation, Hannah Gustafson '21 played hero for Amherst women's soccer just two minutes into the first overtime as an open net tap in lifted the No. 4 seed Mammoths over Hamilton in quarterfinals action of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) on Saturday afternoon at Hitchcock Field. 

With the win, Amherst advances to their fourth consecutive NESCAC semifinals, boasting an overall record 12-3-1 while the Continentals conference run concludes with a record of 10-5-1 overall. The Mammoths also record their 12th shutout on the 2019 tab, adding to their conference leading 0.733 shutout percentage that is good for 10th in the nation.

Alexa Juarez '22 nearly broke the deadlock in the 38th minute when she threatened off a free kick from the top left of the box, but her attempt sailed inches over the bar. 

Continuing the pressure, Juarez had a chance less than a minute later but her header from the penalty dot on a cross from the left side was met with great adjustment. Hamilton keeper Rachel Pike, who finished with 12 stops on the afternoon, denied the attempt off a diving save to halt the ball from going into the bottom right corner.

Hamilton's lone shot on frame in the first came 5:07 into play, with Hyla Mosher powering a free kick from 30 yards on on net, but Sanders read the shot from start to finish and was able to make an easy catch on the ball.

Amherst controlled the momentum for the majority of the first half, owning a 12-5 edge in shots and 5-1 advantage in shots on target heading into the halftime break. 

The Mammoths saw another promising chance right out of the gate in the 49th minute when Ruby Hastie '22 was knocking on the doorstop, following a cross from Isabel Stern '23 from the right side. Hamilton's Kristin Hughes, who was second in the conference in assists heading into the game, played a pivotal defensive role as she was able to knock down the cross to block a shot attempt from Hastie on the loose ball. 

Amherst tallied 15 shots in the second half alone to the Continentals five, entering the first overtime period with a 27-10 mark over Hamilton. 

The away side recorded two quick strikes immediately into the first overtime period before Gustafson was able to lift the Purple & White over the Continentals for the second consecutive quarterfinals with her second game winner on the season.

Controlling the ball at midfield, Sloan Askins '20 raced down the right side and gained an angle on the her defender before chippping a shot off the nearside post. The ball bounced off the pipe and directly to Gustafson who was alone in front for the open net put-back score, winning the game for Amherst. 

Erica Sanders '20 notched her seventh win on the season, recording two saves while the Mammoths finished with seven corner kicks to the Continentals one. 

Amherst will set their sights on Tufts for semifinals action of the tournament on Saturday, November 5th. The final semifinals matchup will feature Middlebury and Williams on Saturday as well.