Williams vs. Amherst
April 4, 2009
The Game Story:
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA - The men's lacrosse team closed out spring break with a resounding win today at Renzie Lamb Field as they overmatched archrival Amherst 8-4. Williams improves to 3-5 overall and 3-3 in the NESCAC, while the Lord Jeffs now stand at 4-5 with a 2-4 conference mark.

The Ephs grabbed an early three-goal lead in the opening 15 minutes and it was held firmly for the remaining three quarters. Statistically, the game was more competitive. Amherst held a slight edge in shots 34-40, but Williams took the ground ball and faceoff categories 41-33 and 9-6 respectively. The Lord Jeffs had three extra-man opportunities and only capitalized on one, while the Ephs converted their lone extra-man chance.

"Our defense really set the tone for us in this one," remarked Eph head coach George McCormack. "We were moving our feet and matching up well against their attackers.... Our hustle caused a lot of turnovers and our transition off of loose balls led to a lot of scoring chances."

Williams has struggled offensively in the first quarter this season, but this afternoon it took them just seven seconds to light up the scoreboard. On the game's opening faceoff, sophomore Corey Jacobs scooped up the ball from the center circle and charged directly at the Amherst net. He made a quick move to avoid a defender and flung it past Lord Jeff netkeeper Matt Pietroforte for the game's first score. Senior midfielder Ryan Powell followed suit a few minutes later as he picked up a loose ball, scooted past the Amherst defense, and fired home a point-blank unassisted shot. Junior attacker Richard Reuter capped off the first quarter action with just 13 seconds left on the clock when he dashed out from behind the net and ripped a wrap-around into the cage to give the Ephs a 3-0 advantage.

"Today might have been the first time we've been ahead to start a game," acknowledged McCormack. "Starting strong is huge for any team, and the way we opened play this afternoon tells me that we're getting better at coming out of the gate with more intensity and that we're maturing as a team."

Williams widened the margin after an Amherst penalty. Sophomore midfielder Matt Cranshaw found freshman attacker Sam Hargrove at the top of the box, and he drove it past Pietroforte for the fourth Eph tally. The Lord Jeffs found the scoreboard about midway through the quarter, as freshman midfielder Evan Redwood gathered a rebound and just got it a backhander through senior goaltender and co-captain Michael Gerbush. Williams committed a penalty during the play, and on the ensuing extra-man opportunity, freshman midfielder Alex Fox drilled in a shot from the point to bring the Lord Jeffs within two. The Ephs responded however, as Hargrove took a feed from Powell and found the net 58 seconds before the horn to make it a 5-2 game at halftime.

"Hargrove has been playing like a cagey veteran for us," said McCormack about the rookie. "We had two freshman starting on attack for us and I think they played smart matured as the game progressed. Mike Ryan would have had three goals today if it weren't for the crease-violation rule.... We took some risks today, running attackers as midfielders, but it's all about getting the best players on the field, and it worked out well today."

In addition to his pair of second-quarter goals, Hargrove assisted on the only goal of the third period, a top-corner blast from sophomore attacker David Hawley. The Ephs played keep-away for almost the entire frame, as effective ball movement and wise shot selection led to a lengthy time of possession. In the final quarter, Cranshaw and sophomore attacker Tommy Murray put the game out of reach with critical scores. Amherst rallied for a pair of goals but it was too little too late. Gerbush continued to make tough saves look easy down the stretch and Williams coasted to an 8-4 conference win.

"Gerbush was solid as a rock today," said McCormack. "He's done a fantastic job as a senior captain and a leader of this team. He made all the saves we needed him to make and it made all the difference.

"Any time we can get a NESCAC win its huge and it's even that much better when it's a Little Three opponent...another big win for the program."

Men's lacrosse will resume play this Tuesday when they host non-conference opponent Skidmore at the Renzie Lamb field. The action will begin at 6:00pm.