Amherst women’s soccer comes from behind to beat Trinity, claim NESCAC championship

  • Amherst sophomore Maeve McNamara holds off Trinity defender Kelly Lucas during Amherst's 2-1 win Sunday in the NESCAC Championship game in Williamstown. Courtesy Sarah Corso

  • The Amherst College women's soccer team celebrates with the banner after beating Trinity 2-1 in the NESCAC championship game on Sunday in Williamstown. Courtesy Sarah Corso

  • The Amherst College women's soccer team celebrates with the banner after beating Trinity 2-1 in the NESCAC championship game on Sunday in Williamstown. Courtesy Sarah Corso

For the Gazette
Published: 11/6/2016 6:53:43 PM

WILLIAMSTOWN — The Amherst College women’s soccer team captured the 2016 New England Small College Athletic Conference championship title Sunday, defeating Trinity College 2-1.

It marks Amherst’s first NESCAC championship title since 2011 and second under head coach Jen Hughes.

“There’s no feeling like it. It’s what we strive for every year,” said Hughes.

The NESCAC title did not come easy for Amherst (15-2-1, 8-1-1 NESCAC), as it fell behind early. Trinity (11-4-3, 7-3) jumped ahead when senior Laura Nee scored just 11 minutes into the first half, shooting it past a diving Amherst goalkeeper Chelsea Cutler.

However, the goal did not break Amherst’s confidence, as the team was vocally urging each other to push through despite playing down by one goal.

“We obviously went down early, but one of our goals this season was to come together if we got scored on and sort of calm down, regroup, and focus on the fact that we are never out of the fight,” senior Emily Hester said.

Amherst trailed 1-0 heading into halftime after regaining some momentum in the last minutes of the half.

“I think we were playing conservatively, and I think we are better when we play more aggressively.” Hughes said. “It’s risky and scary to push numbers forward ,but, you know, we are better that way. We talked about that at halftime and I think we made a really great adjustment.”

Amherst came out playing aggressively and with energy in the second half, which led to a quick equalizer from sophomore Rubii Tamen to tie the game 1-1 in the 52nd minute.

Tamen, who notched a goal and assist in Amherst’s semifinal victory over Middlebury on Saturday, drilled a pass from Hayley Roy to the lower left corner of the net.

“I think Rubii was a spark in the first half. She, I think, had a breakout game, and she had that energy going into the second half and I think our team collectively stepped up behind her and brought it in the second half,” Hughes said. “She worked hard for that goal and I’m glad she put it away.”

The teams then went on to stretch the field and traded scoring chances until Hannah Guzzi, Amherst’s leading scorer, maneuvered behind the Trinity defense and completed a hard pass to Hester who was waiting in front of the goal. Hester hammered it home, giving Amherst the 2-1 lead with just over five minutes left in the championship game.

“I honestly was just like if I get enough power on this hopefully it will go in the back of the net,” Hester said.

The come-from-behind win was Amherst’s second against Trinity in as many weeks. The last game of the regular season Oct. 25 saw Amherst defeat Trinity in overtime 3-2 after falling behind early in the second half.

“It’s important to have the experience of going down and knowing you can come back and we have that experience,” said Hughes. “I don’t think anyone doubted that we were going to win this game.”

As a result of winning a conference championship, Amherst gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III women’s soccer tournament, which begins Saturday. A selection process will be held Monday to determine tournament seeding and matchups.

Until then, “We are going to savor every minute of the NESCAC Championship,” Hughes said.

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