AMHERST, Mass. -- Amherst College extended a 2-0 halftime lead into a 3-0 victory over Bates College Saturday in the semifinals of the 2006 NESCAC Women's Soccer Championship, ending the Bobcats' quest for a second straight conference title.
Bates out-shot Amherst by a 13-9 margin, but the Bobcats have likely seen their season come to an end with a 10-5 overall record. Top-seeded Amherst improves to 12-1-1 overall and will play in and host the title game Sunday at 12 p.m.
Bates controlled the opening five minutes of the game and had a good scoring opportunity when junior Allison Emery (Richmond, Vt.) played a beautiful cross to senior Jessie Gargiulo (Boxborough, Mass.), but Gargiulo couldn’t get a solid touch on the ball, sending her shot straight up in the air for Amherst goalkeeper Piper Crowell (San Rafael, Calif.) to grab easily.
Amherst began to put on serious pressure 15 minutes into the half, when junior Heather Nowak (New Haven, Conn.) sent a free kick into the Bobcats’ defensive zone. It looked as though Bates would escape without harm, but Amherst kept the pressure on, as first-year Meg Murphy (Springfield, Mass.) ripped a shot from 20 yards out. The ball bounced off a Bates defender and to the feet of senior Amy Armstrong (Avon, Conn.), who found the back of the net with a shot low and to the corner to put Amherst ahead 1-0 with 28:56 remaining in the half.
Bates looked to counter just four minutes later, when senior Kim Alexander (Cumberland, Maine) played a ball through to senior Mary Bucci (Norfolk, Mass.), who ripped a close-range shot, but Crowell came up with a save. Amherst responded with a drive of its own, when, with 23:13 remaining in the half, Armstrong played a ball to junior Katie Coffey (Florence, Mass.), who took a shot from 30 yards out. Bates goalkeeper Mia Lidofsky (Providence, R.I.) was off her line and had to run back to reposition herself, as the ball bounced off her hands and the crossbar as she jumped to make a save. The ball rolled off the crossbar and caromed off Lidofsky’s body into the goal to give Amherst a 2-0 lead.
Amherst threatened again just two minutes later, but a close-range Armstrong shot sailed high. Neither team would threaten for the remainder of the half, despite Amherst putting constant pressure on the Bates defense. Each team was held to just one shot in the final 20 minutes of the first half.
The Bobcats opened up the second half with a scoring opportunity when Bates played a ball through to Alexander, who raced to beat Crowell to the ball. Crowell and Alexander reached the ball at the same time, but Crowell smothered it to prevent a shot. Bates had another great opportunity 10 minutes into the second half, when Bucci ripped a point-blank shot as Crowell positioned herself for a low shot, but Bucci’s shot went wide into the side of the goal.
The second half did not see as much action and opportunity as the first, as neither team managed to string together much offense. With 17 minutes remaining in the half, Amherst ended the scoreless drought when Armstrong broke away from the pack and found the back of the net for her second goal of the game, putting Amherst ahead, 3-0. The Lord Jeff defense fended off the Bobcats for the remainder of the game.
Crowell picked up her fourth shutout of the season, recording 10 saves on the day, while Lidofsky recorded two saves of her own. The Bates defense was able to pull Amherst off-sides six times, preventing several scoring opportunities in the game.
The Bobcats graduate an excellent senior class of five players who were part of 45 wins, 16 losses, five ties one NESCAC Championship title in their four years: Gargiulo, Bucci, Alexander, and co-captains Becky Macdonald (Danvers, Mass.) and Meg Coffin (Westford, Mass.). Coffin missed the Bobcats' final two games due to her knee injury suffered at Middlebury on Oct. 21.
-- Courtesy of Amherst College Sports Information