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Amherst Edges Men’s Soccer, 1-0, In Overtime

AMHERST, Mass. – September 30, 2008 – Senior tri-captain Jake Duker (Newton, MA) scored the game’s lone goal with 5:17 remaining in overtime to lead the Amherst men’s soccer team to a thrilling 1-0 victory over visiting Springfield College. Amherst moves to 4-2 overall, while the Pride fall to 3-5-1.

The first 30 minutes of the game featured plenty of physical play but lacked any significant offensive production, as early Amherst surges were quickly thwarted by offsides penalties. Springfield took control of the game and began a stretch of dominance with 14 minutes remaining in the half when a long ball that was sent deep into the Lord Jeff zone was flicked over the goal by junior Aled Hollingworth (Atlanta, Ga.).

The Pride earned a pair of corner kicks with just over 10 minutes to play before intermission, but the first was cleared back out of bounds by the Amherst defense and the second was headed away by Duker to the feet of classmate Nick Lynch (Kingston, Jamaica). The clear led to a quick counterattack and the ball eventually found its way to Duker on the far post, but his shot from the left side was sent out of bounds.

Springfield missed out on a prime scoring opportunity with 7:00 showing on the clock, when a free kick from the left side skipped right by the far post untouched, as the Jeffs dodged a bullet on what was a well-placed ball. A Pride corner kick—their fourth of the half—followed less than one minute later, but Amherst was once again able to escape unharmed.

The game’s fourth yellow card was handed to Springfield just one minute after Lynch was handed his first, as the intensity became palpable with three minutes to play in the opening frame. The Pride made one final push just before the horn sounded, but the teams headed into halftime in a 0-0 deadlock.

Only three shots were taken in the first 45 minutes, none of which were on goal. Amherst held a 10-8 advantage in fouls and had been called offsides five times, while Springfield’s four corners were met by only one from the Lord Jeffs.

The first prime scoring opportunity of the second half came after seven minutes of action when a Lynch cross from the right side made its way to first-year Henry Rouse (Birmingham, AL), whose sharp header went just wide of the net. The game’s first goalkeeper save came two and a half minutes later when junior forward John Plourd (Southampton, Mass.) tried to sneak a lob shot over Amherst first-year Lennard Kovacs (Wolfersdorf, Germany), who corralled the ball.

The game’s first goal seemed to be a certainty with 27:30 remaining in regulation, as Duker carried the ball toward the net and sent a beautiful short cross to first-year Jae Heo (Changwon, South Korea). Heo’s one-time attempt was headed straight for the back of the net, but Springfield keeper Kevin Leahy (Cheshire, Conn.) made a spectacular save on the near post with his momentum carrying him toward the far post.

A one-minute stretch of heavy Springfield pressure began with nine minutes to play and resulted in a free kick from senior tri-captain Jeremy Scheer (Enfield, Conn.) 25 yards out, but the ball was once again deflected away and Amherst earned a goal kick. The final opportunity of regulation came with 14 seconds to go, but the Jeffs’ free kick from 45 yards out on the right side was grabbed by Leahy.

Amherst held a slim 5-4 advantage in shots and a 20-9 edge in fouls after 90 minutes, while the Pride led the corner kick battle, 6-3.

Duker’s persistence paid off and the fans finally witnessed a goal five minutes and 17 seconds into overtime, as the junior lefty received a pass from junior G.L. Genko (Hauppauge, NY) and poked a shot past the diving Leahy. The Lord Jeffs stormed the field to swarm Duker and celebrate their fourth win of the season.

The Lord Jeffs (4-2/1-2 NESCAC) return to action Saturday, Oct. 4 when they resume NESCAC play with a 2 p.m. home game against Tufts University on Hitchcock Field.