Men's soccer beats Amherst, will play for NESCAC title Sunday

AMHERST, Mass. -- The Colby College men's soccer team will try to make history Sunday after a thrilling 3-1 victory over 20th-ranked Amherst College in a New England Small College Athletic Conference semifinal game Saturday.
 
The eighth-seeded Mules already made team history by reaching the NESCAC Final Four for the first time. Colby can now make conference history by becoming the first eighth seed to win the league title. Wesleyan University is the only other eighth seed to advance to a NESCAC final, but lost 1-0 in overtime in the 2015 title game.
 
The Mules will play against sixth-seeded Williams College in the championship game at noon Sunday. There will be a free fan bus leaving at 7 a.m. Sunday from in front of Colby's Harold Alfond Athletic Center. The game also will be broadcast by the Northeast Sports Network here. The Ephs took a 2-0 win over No. 7 Hamilton College by scoring twice in the final 13 minutes in the other semifinal. Sunday's winner receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
 
"I'm over the moon for the guys to be able to get another game to compete together," Colby head coach Ewan Seabrook said. "Amherst is a top team with so many attacking players who can score, so we knew we had to be disciplined defensively and allow no lapses in concentration."
 
The Mules had that concentration in a 2-0 win over Bates College to make the playoffs and then a 0-0 overtime tie with second-ranked Tufts University. 
 
"Being a team that is hard to beat is a hallmark of our program and that is exactly who we will have tomorrow in Williams, who are organized, well coached, and have a number of dangerous attacking players," Seabrook said.  
 
Game highlights
* The Mules (8-6-3 overall) had a breakout game offensively and another huge effort from the defense to beat another top 20 opponent. 
 
* The game was moved Saturday morning to Gooding Field, the turf field where the Amherst field hockey team plays during the fall. With rain having soaked the regular soccer field and more rain in the forecast, the game was switched to the artificial turf surface.
 
* Colby has good team speed and playing on the turf did not hurt the Mules. The speed showed when Asa Berolzheimer broke in from the right side in a sprint with a defender and made a nice pass across the penalty area to Jeff Rosenberg, who was sprinting in hard and one-timed the ball in the back of the net just 9:18 into the first half.
 
"I picked my head up right before I played it across and I saw Jeff," Berolzheimer said. "He yelled for it, I squared it to him, and he finished it."
 
Rosenberg, an All-NESCAC player last year, scored his first two goals of the season.
 
"Jeff was outstanding today," Seabrook said. "He has a knack of scoring in big moments and the way he finished the first goal capped an outstanding movement from Asa, Lucas Pereira, and Kyle Douglas."
 
* Colby goalkeeper Dan Carlson had just one save in the first half, but it was a big one. He used his quick reflexes to knock away a shot from in close.
 
"Dan came up with a big time save at a critical moment in the first half," Seabrook said. "It's those moments that can swing the pendulum of the game, and Dan kept the momentum with us."
 
* After going into the halftime break up 1-0, the Mules tallied just 1:29 into the second half. Cam Clouse had a long throw-in deep in Amherst territory. The ball appeared to deflect off an Amherst defender and went to Rosenberg in front for the score. Rosenberg did a nice job of knifing down on the bouncing ball.
 
"The second goal was all about focusing on the ball and going for placement rather than power," Rosenberg said. "It's rare to be that open in the box, and often players will try to smash it in such situations. I did my best to gather myself and put it in the corner."  
 
* Exactly 11 minutes later, Colby stunned the fourth-seeded home team by going up 3-0. The Mammoths took a 3-0 home win over the Mules during the regular season. The Mules scored off a free kick when both Clouse and Paul Hawkins gently touched the ball to Berolzheimer, who ripped a low shot off the wall and into the right corner of the goal.
 
"The third goal was something we have worked on in training for a while now. Ironically, I’ve never scored on that set piece in practice before but today we executed," Berolzheimer said. "I was aiming to keep it low."   
 
* The Mammoths (12-4-1), who have five NESCAC titles in men's soccer (the last in 2016), made it interesting by scoring less than two minutes after Colby's third goal. Bryce Johnson scored his second of the season off an assist from Alex Shahmirzadi at 59:04. Johnson volleyed in a shot off a pass from deep in the left corner. 
 
By the numbers
* Carlson mad five saves. Clouse had a team save when Amherst nearly made it 3-2. Andres Pascual-Leone had a header shot off the left post with about 13 minutes remaining. The ball deflected to German Giammattei, who rifled a low shot by Carlson only to have Clouse clear the ball of the line.
 
"Cam, Jack Fletcher, and the entire back line took responsibility for winning the physical battle that we knew Amherst would give us," Seabrook said. "The way Can threw himself at the ball on the line was the very definition of inspirational leadership."
 
* Mammoth keeper Bernie White was not credited with a save. Amherst had a 27-7 shot advantage, but Colby scored on its only three shots on goal.