Amherst College men’s soccer shuts out Hamilton

  • Amherst's Christopher Martin, right, battles for the ball against Hamilton on Saturday at Amherst College. Jacqui Collins

  • Jacqui CollinsAmherst's Aziz Khan, right, chases after the ball with Hamilton's Gregory Milnarik turning to prevent Saturday at Amherst College. Jacqui Collins

For The Gazette
Published: 10/9/2016 5:48:03 PM

AMHERST — It took the Amherst College men’s soccer team less than three minutes to score its first goal Sunday afternoon against Hamilton, and that would be all the team needed, as it went on to shut out the Continentals 2-0 at Hitchcock Field.

The goal in the third minute by defenseman Cam Hardington was followed up by another goal by forward Jackson Lehnhart in the ninth minute.

Amherst (9-1-1, 4-1-1 NESCAC) coach Justin Serpone thought the goals gave the team in the early stages.

“We’re an energy-based team. We talked about the first 15 minutes today being really important,” Serpone said. “A lot of times in soccer the narrative of the game really matters, so who scores first, and then you’re able to do things differently.”

Defense has been one of Amherst’s biggest strengths this season, as the team currently sits third in the NESCAC in goals against per game (0.71). Amherst has shut out its opponents six times this season, including each of the last three games. Hardington thought the defense stepped up in a big way Sunday.

“Defense was a crucial part of the win today,” Hardington said. “We always try before every game to say the main goal every game is no goals allowed. Every game zero goals; that’s our mantra.”

Serpone has been impressed with the defensive play thus far this season and thought the team came out with great intensity on that side of the ball against Hamilton.

“That’s where it all starts,” Serpone said about the defense. “Our whole program is based off of not giving up goals. If every game ends 0-0, I’m okay with that. You can’t be okay with giving up goals, and a week ago we gave up three, and that’s something that’s not acceptable. These guys have been challenged and bounced back.”

Saturday’s game was defined by the physicality with lots of pushing happening on both sides. The referees called 41 fouls in the game, 21 for Amherst and 20 for the Continentals. Officials gave out four yellow cards in the game, one of which on Serpone.

“You can’t worry about referees. I got myself a little bit frustrated today,” Serpone said. “It’s a physical league. It’s a physical sport. We just want to make sure we are not retaliating, being good guys and I think we did a pretty good job of that today.”

With the win over Hamilton, Amherst moves into a tie with the Continentals atop the NESCAC, as both teams have 13 points. Just four games remain on the schedule.

“It’s huge for us especially when it comes down to home-field advantage,” Lehnhart said. “If we can keep the wins coming, we can be in a better spot for the NESCAC tournament and play potentially at home.”

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


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