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Amherst pulls away from men's soccer in second half

Watts

Goldberg

King

Lee

Jackson

Trook

AMHERST, Mass. — The Bates College men’s soccer team hung in with one of the top teams in the region on Wednesday, before host Amherst College pulled away from a scoreless tie at halftime for a 3-0 NESCAC conference victory.

The Lord Jeffs improve to 9-2-0 (5-2-0 NESCAC) with the victory, while the Bobcats drop to 3-7-2 (0-6-1 NESCAC).

After an evenly matched first half, senior co-captain Matt Lewis put his team on the scoreboard with his third goal of the season in the 55th minute. Sophomore James Mooney and first-year Spencer Noon added insurance goals for Amherst in the 70th and 75th minutes, respectively.

Sophomore goalkeeper Lennard Kovacs made three saves to earn his seventh shutout of the season, while sophomores Greg Watts (West Chester, Pa.) and Brian Goldberg (New York, N.Y.) each made two saves for the Bobcats.

The hosts earned a corner kick in the opening minute of play and nearly scored when the ball bounced around inside the 6-yard box, but the Bates defense stood its ground and escaped unharmed. The game’s first shot on goal came with 21 minutes remaining in the first half when Bates senior defender Patrick King (Gorham, Maine) took a shot from 25 yards out, but Kovacs was there to make his first save of the day.

Bates followed up with a spurt of offense when a pass from the end line rolled through the box. Junior Dae Ro Lee (Yongin, South Korea) ran on and wound up for a hard shot, but he couldn’t get a good touch on the ball. Junior Patrick Jackson (Durham, N.H.) was there to clean up with an attempt of his own, but his shot was blocked by the Amherst defense.

Bates controlled the closing minutes of the first half by earning a pair of corner kicks and nearly scoring the game’s first goal. With only 30 seconds on the clock, Jackson sent in a cross from the right corner. Senior defender Ben Trook (Weston, Mass.) made a nice run and ripped a shot from 12 yards out, but Kovacs was there to make his second save of the half.

The teams were even in shots (3-3), corner kicks (2-2) and saves (2-2) after 45 minutes. Amherst made several good runs in the opening half, but the Bobcats pulled the Jeffs off-sides four times.

The second half was a much different story for the Jeffs, who out-shot the Bobcats 10-1 and won the corner kick battle (5-0) in the second frame. The game’s first goal came at the 54:31 mark, with Lewis finishing a left-footed cross from senior Chris Devine on a free kick. Lewis made a run and headed Devine’s cross to the far post past a diving Watts to give the Jeffs a 1-0 lead.

The Jeffs followed with prime scoring chances and solid play from junior forward Ian Rothkopf, Mooney and Devine, but they would not get their second goal until 69:03. First-year Casey McNamara put the wheels in motion when he dribbled himself out of trouble on the left wing and played a ball to junior Chris Skayne in the middle of the field. Skayne then found Mooney streaking toward the goal, and Watts was forced to come off his line. Mooney won the footrace and pushed the ball past the sliding goalkeeper, allowing him to place a shot on an empty net, giving the hosts a 2-0 lead.

Less than five minutes later Amherst made it 3-0, when Mooney sent a cross from the right wing to Noon, who sent in a header for his team-leading seventh goal of the season.

Amherst continued to apply heavy pressure in the final 10 minutes, but substitute goalkeeper Brian Goldberg made a pair of spectacular saves for Bates to keep it a 3-0 game. The first came with eight minutes remaining when a Henry Rouse header looked as though it was going to sneak underneath the crossbar, but Goldberg made a leaping effort to punch the ball away. The second came with 2:30 to play when Amherst’s Ryan Conti beat three Bates defenders in a footrace and took a shot from 20 yards out, but Goldberg stormed off his line to make a sliding stop.

Amherst increased its unbeaten streak to six. The Lord Jeffs also increased their overall winning streak and shutout streak to five games, as they have outscored opponents by a 15-0 margin since Oct. 7.

Bates next hosts Middlebury (6-4-2, 2-3-2 NESCAC) this Saturday at 11 a.m.

STATS: Amherst 3, Bates 0