Amherst College men’s soccer prepares for Brandeis in Sweet 16 of NCAA tournament

For the Gazette
Published: 11/18/2016 6:02:59 PM

AMHERST — It’s been a long time since the Amherst College men’s soccer team lost a game.

In fact, it’s been over a month and a half since their 3-0 loss to Tufts on Oct. 1. Since then, Amherst (17-1-1) has won 11 straight and it will look to continue that trend in the NCAA Division III Tournament Sweet 16 on Saturday.

Amherst faces Brandeis (12-5-3) at 11 a.m. at Hitchcock Field. The Judges topped Western New England 2-1 in the first round and Saint Joseph’s (Maine) 3-0 in the second round.

Brandeis has won eight of its last 10 games.

Amherst assistant coach Derek Shea ran practice Wednesday night. Amherst head coach Justin Serpone was with his wife, UMass women’s lacrosse coach Angela McMahon, who gave birth to their third child.

Shea knows Amherst will have a tough task taking on the Judges.

“You don’t get to the final 16 unless you’re really strong,” Shea said. “They have a lot of home-grown New England players. They’re skillful, tough and well-organized. Their coach has been there a long time and is one the best we are going to see, so a tough challenge.”

Amherst’s offense has been strong, especially during late stages of games. During its 11-game winning streak, Amherst has failed to score at least two goals just once.

“At this time of year, it’s unusual to score three goals in a game,” Shea said, in regards to Amherst’s 3-0 win over Daniel Webster last Sunday. “Goals this time of year are usually few and far between. Games are usually decided by one goal. We’ve been working on just finishing and guys getting confidence in and around the box. We need that bravery and that guile to finish that chance when it comes.”

Brandeis is led by midfielder Josh Ocel, who has five goals this season. Five other players have at least three goals for the Judges.

“We bring a certain level of pressure or commitment. We don’t want to sit back and let them have the ball,” Shea said. “We want to be all over them and all on top of them. Our job is to put as much pressure on them as possible and see if they can hang with that pressure. They have some incredibly talented soccer players, so we’ll have to do our very best to set a level with them. Our guys are up for the task.”

Adam Aucoin can be reached at and followed on Twitter @aaucoin34

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