AMHERST, Mass. --- The sixth-seeded Colby College women's soccer team wanted a low scoring game against third-seeded Amherst College, but the Mules were on the wrong side of a 1-0 New England Small College Athletic Conference quarterfinal game on Saturday.
The Mules, who finish the season at 8-7 overall, had fallen 4-0 at Amherst during the regular season. Meanwhile, the eighth-ranked Jeffs have allowed jus eight goals in 15 games, making a 1-0 game likely the only chance of victory for the Mules.
Amanda Brisco scored off a Hannah Cooper assist in the 54th minute for Amherst.
The Mules gave it their all, nearly finding the equalizer several times late in the contest after Amherst controlled much of the first half and early second. Despite the better of possession time, 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. The Jeffs kept up the pressure, but Colby’s defense was able to turn away numerous first-half attempts, none bigger when keeper Emily Brook kept it scoreless with a pair of outstanding saves in the 30th minute. Nathan sent a cross into the box for Chloe McKenzie, who blasted a shot toward the chest of the Mule netminder, but Brook deflected the shot then made a lunging save of McKenzie’s rebound attempt to keep it knotted at zero.
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 half 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, and then found Brisco 15 yards out for a low volley past the diving Brook and into the left corner of the Mule net.
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.
Brisco nearly tallied her second of the match in the 67th minute 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. 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.
Amherst 1, Colby 0
Colby...................... 0 0 - 0
Amherst College..... 0 1 - 1
1. 53:15 AMH Amanda Brisco (6) (Hannah Cooper)
Shots: Colby 6, Amherst College 17; Saves: Colby 7 (Emily Brook 7), Amherst College 3 (Holly Burwick 3).