Men's Soccer Falls to Amherst, 2-1, in NCAA Sectionals
AMHERST, Mass. - Despite a valiant effort, the Swarthmore College men's soccer team's season came to an end on Saturday afternoon, as the Garnet fell to host Amherst College in the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Sectionals by a score of 2-1.
The Garnet finish 16-3-2, while the Lord Jeffs (17-0-2) advance to the sectional final tomorrow afternoon against rival Williams.
Junior captain Noah Sterngold scored for the Garnet on a penalty kick in the 63rd minute, beating Amherst keeper Thomas Bull to the right. With the goal, the Garnet became just the third opponent to find the back of the net against the Lord Jeffs all season.
The Lord Jeffs were led by senior Spencer Noon, who tallied the game-winning goal in the 53rd minute and assisted on teammate Gabriel Wirz' score in the 39th minute.
Swarthmore came out strong, disrupting a stingy Amherst defense with clever possessions. Strong ball work, and runs off the ball led to dangerous chances. One of which was a play in which junior Joe Keedy was able to beat a defender down the left flank and serve up a sharp cross to sophomore Mike Stewart's feet, yet the opportunity yielded no goal. In the 25th minute, freshman Wyatt McCall's corner hit the head of junior captain Jack Momeyer '14, but his attempt went wide left.
Late in the first half, the Lord Jeffs capitalized on their edge in size, scoring off of a corner kick to take the lead. Wirz, who's 6-4, finished with his head on a well-struck ball played in by Noon to make it 1-0 Jeffs.
Ahead 1-0 early in the second half, the Lord Jeffs extended their lead in the 53rd minute off a ball that bounced the wrong way on a failed Garnet clearance. On a whim, Noon found himself with the ball at his feet inside the box, and clinically put the goal away, decisively putting his team up 2-0.
Down 2-0 against a squad that had surrendered only two goals for the entire 2012 season, the Garnet very easily could have deflated and knelt at the feet of the undefeated Lord Jeffs. But just as it has done all-season long, the Garnet held strong and mounted a furious comeback.
After multiple probing plays, the pressure the Garnet put upon the Amherst defense amounted in a penalty kick just 10 minutes after the Jeffs' score. Sterngold perfectly placed a hard-struck ball into the right side of the goal to cut the Lord Jeffs' lead in half, 2-1.
Down the stretch, the Garnet desperately searched for the equalizer, but ultimately fell just short. Swarthmore's last chance came as time expired, as senior captain John Pontillo's bicycle kick flew high of the goal, sealing the win for Amherst.
In goal for the Garnet, junior Peter Maxted capped a brilliant season with four saves.