Amherst college soccer shuts out Hamilton for NESCAC title

  • Amherst College won the NESCAC men's soccer championship Sunday, defeating Hamilton 3-0 on Sunday in Williamstown. Courtesy Jacqui Collins

  • The Amherst College men's soccer team receives the trophy after beating Hamilton 3-0 to win the NESCAC title Sunday in Williamstown. Courtesy Jacqui Collins

  • Amherst College’s Jackson Lenhart blocks an attempt from Hamilton’s Alec Talsania in the NESCAC title game. Amherst won 3-0 on Sunday in Williamstown. Courtesy Jacqui Collins

For the Gazette
Published: 11/6/2016 7:19:12 PM

AMHERST — A day after making an improbable comeback in the last 10 minutes of its game against Bowdoin, the Amherst College men’s soccer team had no problem dispatching Hamilton on Sunday, topping the Continentals 3-0 to win the NESCAC Championship at Hitchcock Field.

The win gives Amherst its first NESCAC title since 2013.

Amherst coach Justin Serpone was proud of the effort the team showed to pull out the win and how they have played all season.

“This year we went into the season like ‘we want to bring (NESCAC Championship) back to Amherst,” he said. “I am so pleased with the performance. You don’t get used to winning championships. This is a special day for these guys, so I want them to enjoy it.”

The first half of Sunday’s game was all about defense, and it looked like the game was going into halftime scoreless. That was until Amherst brought the ball into Hamilton box with just eight seconds on the clock. Cameron Bean took a shot and was blocked, but sophomore midfielder Luke Nguyen got a foot on the deflection and put the ball past Linds Cadwell with two seconds remaining. The goal was Nguyen’s first of the season.

“I thought Hamilton probably had the better of the first half,” Serpone said. “To get a goal against run of the half with two seconds left is huge. Now you go into halftime up a goal. You don’t need to score another one. That was a huge play.”

Nguyen would add another goal in the early in the second half, and Weller Hlinomaz scored in the 65th minute to all but put the game away.

Nguyen, who hadn’t scored a goal coming into the game, was excited to come through on such a big stage.

“It’s pretty big. I don’t usually score,” Nguyen said. “I am just happy I could do it for the seniors and everyone on the team. Everyone would have really put them away with the service we got.”

Amherst once again got strong play by the defense and goalkeeper Lee Owen. Owen lowered his goals against average to 0.76 with the clean sheet. Sunday was the team’s ninth shutout.

With the NESCAC playoffs now in its rearview mirror, Amherst now sets its sights on defending its national championship.

“We have saying, ‘if you play well in the league, you’ll play well in the country,’” Serpone said. “We don’t focus on national stuff. We know if we do well in the NESCAC, we’re going to put ourselves in a good chance to make a good run in the NCAA’s. So much goes into what happens next. Some its talent, some of its luck, some of its staying healthy.”

Nguyen believes the way the team played in the NESCAC’s bodes well for them heading into the NCAA tournament.

“We’re real big on momentum,” Nguyen said. “We think we have a good chance going in. We’ll see what the draw says and we’ll take it game by game like last year.”

The Division III soccer NCAA tournament selection takes place Monday at 1 p.m.

Adam Aucoin can be reached at aaucoin@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @aaucoin34.


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