Springfield, Mass. – November 16, 2008 – The Springfield College women’s soccer team’s season came to a close on Sunday afternoon as it fell to Amherst, 3-0, in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Division III Championship.
With the win, Amherst moves on to the Sweet 16 and now stands at 13-2-3. Springfield’s season comes to a close with a final record of 16-4-2.
The difference in the game was three goals in the first 25 minutes from Amherst’s Jackie Hirsch, which put the Pride in an early hole.
"The story was the first half. Amherst played very well. In fact I would call it an excellent performance," said Springfield head coach John Gibson. "But we contributed because we just couldn't clear away balls from in front of our own net. And they really took advantage. That's why they are the 9th-ranked team in the country. I must say I am very proud of my team and how far we advanced this season. I'm very proud of what this team accomplished."
Amherst's first opportunity to score came just four minutes into the game as Kyla Woodhouse (Topsham, Maine) played a misread ball by the Springfield defense and found herself in front of an open net inside the six yard box. However, Woodhouse’s shot was snuffed out by a sprawling Jess Prencipe (Andover, Mass), who lunged across the goal mouth to prevent the Amherst tally.
The Lord Jeffs did eventually score the first goal of the game 5:29 into the first half on a tough break for the Pride. As the Pride attempted to clear the ball out of the box, the ball deflected off Hirsch and found the back of the net for the top-seeded Lord Jeffs.
Springfield nearly tied the game up just over a minute later off a Nicole Hanewich (Smithfield, R.I.) strike. Hanewich lobbed a shot from 18 yards out towards the net, which the wind caught as Allie Horwitz (Woodbridge, Conn.) was about to make the save off a bounce. The ball floated up and bounced twice off the crossbar, before landing in the six-yard box. The Pride’s Maria Evans (Gloucester, Mass.) was unable to beat Horwitz to the ball as Springfield’s scoring chance was stopped.
Hirsch tallied her second goal of the game in the 21st minute off a chaotic scene in front of the goal. After another breakdown in the Pride defense left only Delaney Cantrall (Santa Paula, Calif.) guarding the goal, Cantrall was able to block a wide-open Meg Murphy (Springfield, Mass.) shot from 10 yards out. Off the deflection, Cantrall got in front of another Murphy shot, only to have the ball bounce out to Hirsch, all alone on the right side of the box. Hirsch ripped a shot that bounced off the right post and into an open Springfield net.
Hirsch completed her hat trick just under five minutes later. Livia Rizzo (Dover, Mass.) cracked a shot from 30 yards out, which Springfield keeper Sue Jenney (Agawam, Mass.) was unable to corral. Hirsch collected the rebound all alone and slotted a shot into the right corner from 10 yards out, giving the Lord Jeffs a 3-0 advantage.
"We really took advantage of our opportunities in the first half. We knew what we needed to do and we survived another day," said Amherst head coach Jen Hughes. "But I will give a lot of credit to Springfield and how they came out in the second half. They fought hard."
Springfield's best scoring chance in the second half was denied as Amherst keeper Lili Ferguson (Winnetka, Ill.) kept Springfield off the board as she stoned Hanewich on a one-on-one opportunity four minutes into the second half.
Jenney finished with seven saves in goal, while Horwitz made three saves. The Lord Jeffs owned an 18-15 advantage in shots, including a 14-6 edge in the first stanza.