WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. – Punching a ticket to the program's first-ever National Championship game, the Amherst College men's lacrosse team shut out archrival Williams College in the fourth quarter to down the Ephs, 12-8 in the NCAA Semifinals Sunday afternoon at Farley-Lamb Field.
With victories over Tufts in the quarterfinal and Williams in the semifinal, the Mammoths have avenged all three of their losses on the year in a five-day span.
With the win, Amherst improves to 18-3 on the season and advances to the 2019 NCAA National Championship game, while Williams closes out the year with an 18-4 record.
Amherst will face Cabrini on Sunday, May 26 at 4 p.m. at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa. for the NCAA Division III title. It will be the first appearance in the National Championship game for both teams.
Roaring out of the gate, the Mammoths held the Ephs scoreless through the first 12 minutes while adding four goals to jump out to a 4-0 lead.
Grant Chryssicas kicked off scoring at the 10:01 mark. Jimmy McAfee's 70-yard sprint to net set up the scoring play, as Chryssicas picked up McAfee's rebound and sent a follow-up attempt into the bottom left corner as he was checked to the turf.
Gathering the ball behind the goal, Colin Minicus doubled Amherst's lead 28 seconds later as he faked a pass to the back left post to bring his defender to a standstill before curling around the net and tucking a shot under the bar.
Tacking on another Mammoths' score with 7:01 on the clock, Matt Solberg drove a crank shot from 15-yards out through the legs of the Ephs keeper off a feed from Minicus, before Minicus tallied his second straight helper on a dish to Jackson Herrick at the 2:04 mark to set the score at 4-0.
Getting on the board with 2:04 remaining in the opening quarter, Brendan Hoffman set a shot into the top right corner with an assist from Jake Haase, before another Hoffman goal 45 seconds into the second quarter cut the Mammoths' lead to 4-2.
Halting the Ephs' momentum, Amherst won the ensuing faceoff 12 seconds later, with Chryssicas faking a drive to the cage before finding Wolf to the left of the net for the catch-and-shoot goal.
Back-to-back scores by Kevin Stump with assists from Jared Strauss got the Ephs within one. Ethan Kazmierski answered for Amherst, collecting the ball 25 yards out and driving down the left alley for the score to give the Mammoths a 6-4 lead at intermission.
Mounting a comeback in the third quarter, the Ephs outscored Amherst, 4-1 to take an 8-7 lead and set the stage for the final stanza.
Logging the first three scores after the break, John Hincks, Haase and Rock Stewart (man-down) each beat the Mammoths' netminder to give the Ephs their first lead of the game, 7-6, with 5:46 on the clock.
Capitalizing on a Jack Wolff ground ball pickup in a scrum in Mammoths' territory, Minicus evened the game at 7-7 at the 1:24 mark as he caught the Williams' defense off guard and ripped a shot into the near side top left corner from 10-yards out.
With time winding down, a catch-and-shoot goal by Stump that went five-hole with 13 seconds before the horn put the home team back on top heading into the final 15 minutes of regulation.
Stepping up in the fourth quarter, Stump's score proved to be the Ephs' last of the matchup as Amherst doubled up their archrivals in face-off wins and ground balls while adding five unanswered goals to the board to seal the historic, 12-8 victory behind a shutdown defensive effort.
Netting both of his goals in the fourth quarter, Jon Coffey sparked the Mammoths' 5-0 run at the 14:05 mark as gathered a dish from Solberg in font and sent a quick shot over the stick of the Ephs' keeper.
Taking a lead that they did not relinquish 53 seconds later, Solberg took it from behind the net on the restart, rolled off his defender and powered a shot knee high into the netting, while Brogan Mahon extended Amherst's lead to two at the 11:10 mark as he dodged around the marking defender and bounced a shot into the far bottom left corner.
A Mahon pick with 4:56 on the clock gave Wolf enough room to connect with Coffey in front for the catch-and-shoot goal and give the Mammoths some breathing room, while Minicus capped off the 12-8 win with a final dagger for Amherst with 1:14 on the clock.
BY THE NUMBERS
- In between the pipes, Gib Versfeld (5-2) recorded eight saves for Amherst in the winning effort, while Harry Gahagan (18-4) made 12 stops for Williams in the loss.
- Minicus headlined the Mammoths' offense with three goals and two assists, while junior Jimmy McAfee's seven ground balls were a game-high. Dylan Finazzo paced Amherst at the faceoff dot with an 11-for-20 effort, while Luke Mallette's three caused turnovers led all players.
- The Mammoths owned the advantage in shots (46-39), ground balls (38-26) and caused turnovers (7-3) and went 0-for-2 on man-up opportunities, while Williams finished 0-for-3 on man-up chances. Both sides earned 12 faceoff wins on the day.