NESCAC Quarterfinals: #3 Amherst 1, #6 Colby 0
Courtesy of Amherst College Sports Information
AMHERST, Mass. – Amanda Brisco scored off a Hannah Cooper assist in the 54th minute as the third-seeded Amherst College women's soccer team held off No. 6 Colby College for a 1-0 win in Saturday's NESCAC Quarterfinal match from Hitchcock Field.
The Lord Jeffs improved to 13-1-1 with the win and advance to next Saturday's semfinals, hosted by Williams, where they will face No. 4 Bowdoin after the Polar Bears held of fifth-seeded Hamilton, 3-2. The No. 2 Ephs topped No. 7 Connecticut College, 3-0, and will face No. 8 Wesleyan, who pulled off a huge upset of top-seeded Middlebury, 2-0, to round out the quarterfinal action.
Colby ends its season at 8-7-0 with the setback. The Mules fell to Amherst 4-0 on Oct. 13, but gave the Jeffs a much greater challenge on Saturday, nearly finding the equalizer several times late in the contest after Amherst controlled much of the first half and early second.
Despite dominating possession, the Jeffs were unable to find the back of the net before intermission. Amherst found its first good chance in the 13th minute when Kathryn Nathan ripped a corner into the box, but the header from Sandy Shepherd flew just wide.
Colby, meanwhile, made its strongest run of the period in the 37th when Maddie Tight found space on the right side, but just before she could get off a shot, Shepherd flew in to make a sliding tackle then rose up to collect the loose ball and clear for Amherst.
The Jeffs very nearly got on the board seconds before half when a Nathan corner led to a tangle in front of the goal. The ball squirted into the Colby net, but the referee waved off the potential goal, calling an Amherst foul just before the tap-in and sending the teams into intermission scoreless.
Amherst kept up its pressure after the break, finding the first strong chance of the second period in the 52nd minute when a well-placed free kick from Maya Jackson-Gibson found Brisco in space near the top of the 18, but the Colby defense closed fast, rushing the junior into a wide shot.
Less than two minutes later, however, Amherst finally broke through. Nathan sent a long through ball to a streaking Cooper on the right side and the junior corralled the ball, fended off a Colby defender then found Brisco 15 yards out for a low volley past the diving Brook and into the left corner of the Mule net. The strike was Brisco's sixth of the season, tying her for the team lead. Cooper's helper marked her second of the year.
Looking for insurance, Megan Kim nearly added to the Amherst lead in the 58th minute when a Brisco ball found her on the right side, but defender Kate Pistel caught up to the charging Amherst forward and made the tackle before Kim could manage an attempt.
Remaining the offensive catalyst for Amherst, Brisco nearly tallied her second of the match in the 67th when she found space on the right side, but Brook made a terrific diving deflection to keep the lead at one. The rebound caromed back to Brisco but her second attempt flew high.
Colby's offense made a gallant charge in the final 20 minutes, ramping up the pressure and just missing several equalizing attempts. The Mules came just inches away from a tie in the 71st when Annie Papadellis blazed past the Amherst defense on the right side then found Crysti Tsujiura with a well-placed cross, but Tsujiura's clean look from 12 yards out flew just right of the Amherst net.
Finally, Colby gave the Jeffs a last big scare in the 88th when Pistel, sent up from defense in the closing minutes, got a toe on a Papadellis through ball just inside the box but Burwick dove to stop the rolling shot and keep the lead intact for good.
Amherst finished with a 17-6 shot advantage as well as a 5-1 edge in corner kicks. Burwick made a trio of saves for her seventh shutout of the season, while Brook turned away seven Jeff shots in the losing effort.
Amherst will square off with Bowdoin in the second semifinal from Williamstown on Saturday, Nov. 3. The Jeffs and Polar Bears will kick off at 1:30 p.m., with Williams and Wesleyan preceding them at 11 a.m.