Amherst Downs Dickinson, 4-0
AMHERST, Mass. – Spencer Noon '13 scored twice and Greg Singer '16 added a goal and an assist as the No. 2 Amherst College men's soccer team pulled away late for a 4-0 triumph over Dickinson College in the second round of the NCAA Championship Sunday.
The Lord Jeffs improved to 16-0-2 with the win, posting their 16th shutout of the year and advancing to the sectional round for the third consecutive year. Amherst will await the winner of Swarthmore and RPI, who play tonight at 5 p.m. In six years under head coach Justin Serpone, Amherst has advanced to the round of 16 five times. Dickinson ends its season at 13-5-2.
Play was tenser than the final score indicates for much of Sunday's match. Max Fikke '14 scored for Amherst in the 32nd minute, but the count remained 1-0 well into the second half before the Jeffs struck three times in eight minutes to seal the deal.
With even play to start, Amherst missed on strong opportunities early. Five minutes in, Noon found an opening on the left side and sent a quick cross in for Jae Heo '14, but the junior's header flew just high of the crossbar.
A minute later, Dickinson keeper Cody Hickok '13 made a diving save to prevent another Amherst shot, this one off an acrobatic bicycle kick attempt from Noon on the right side.
Dickinson got its first good chance in the 10th minute when a long ball in the box was headed back to Shepherd Waldenberger '13 for a 20-yard look, but Amherst keeper Thomas Bull '16 moved to his right to corral the attempt.
Two minutes later, Amherst had another good chance off a strong set piece from Brendan Caslin '14, but the header from Gabriel Wirz '15 flew just wide of the left post.
In the 24th, Bull sent a big free kick from just shy of midfield into the box, finding Heo, but once again his header from the left side was just high.
Continuing to generate strong opportunities, Amherst broke through in the 32nd. Noon sent a corner into the box with the ball eventually falling back to Julien Aoyama '14. The junior lofted a strong searcher toward the right side of the box, and with Hickok coming out to challenge, Fikke won position and nodded his header accurately into the open net for his fifth strike of the season and Aoyama's fourth assist.
Dickinson nearly responded on the ensuing possession when Javier Mena '14 blasted a promising free kick from 30 yards out, but Bull leapt high to his left for a lead-preserving save.
In the 42nd, Amherst nearly grabbed a cushion when Bull blasted another long set piece into the box. After a series of headers, the ball found Fikke on the left side for a strong bicycle attempt, but Hickok was well-positioned for the save, sending the teams into the intermission with Amherst holding a 10-3 edge in shots and a 4-0 advantage in corners.
Amherst found the first strong look of the second half five minutes into the period when Milton Rico '15 won possession in the middle of the Dickinson half and the ball eventually found Heo beating the defense on the right side. But with Dickinson closing fast, the junior had to rush his shot and blasted it high.
The Red Devils gave the hosts their biggest scare in the 57th. Carrying possession deep into the Amherst half, midfielder Jamie Martin '14 sent a well-placed pass through to a streaking Nicolas Tierno '13 on the right side, but his open look flew wide right.
With the bullet dodged, Amherst found insurance in the 64th on a series that started when James Mooney '13E found space in the middle of the Dickinson half and sent a searching ball toward the right side of the box. Battling his defender with Hickok coming on fast, Singer was able to get a foot on it near the end line, sending a cross over to Noon, who was well-positioned for the finish.
It was Singer who struck again for Amherst's third tally just two minutes later. Making the most of his stint of playing time, the lanky rookie found space at the top of the 18 and arced a gorgeous blast from the left side past Hickok into the upper right netting.
Noon finished the decisive spurt in the 72nd, using a slick cutback on the left side to find space in the box before ripping one off the crossbar and down into the right side of the net for his second of the match and 13th of the year.
Amherst wrapped up the contest with an 18-7 edge in shots and a 4-1 advantage in corners. Hickok made four saves in net for Dickinson, while Bull needed just a pair of stops to protect the work of Amherst's stalwart back line.
The NCAA will likely announce sites for the sectional round tomorrow. Williams defeated St. Lawrence, 2-1, today and will face the winner of Brandeis and Vassar in the other semifinal of Amherst's section.