WILLIAMSTOWN, MA – This weekend will find three undefeated Williams teams venturing over the hills to the east into the Pioneer Valley to do battle with two undefeated Amherst College teams, while in Williamstown four undefeated (vs. Division III competition) swimming & diving teams will go head to head in the Samuelson-Muir Pool.
The one team Williams always wants to beat is Amherst and in Amherst the one team they want to beat is Williams. This is true in all 26 sports the Ephs and Lord Jeffs compete in.
As important as each of these regular season events seem to be there is every chance that the archrivals will meet up again in post-season NESCAC and/or NCAA championships.
All of the Williams-Amherst competitions this weekend will be carried live via video webcast.
|Ryan Purdy '|
Friday night January 7th at 7:00 p.m.: Bill Kangas’s Williams men’s ice hockey team (7-0-1/4-0-0 NESCAC) will take on the Lord Jeffs of Amherst (5-2-2/3-2-1 NESCAC) in Amherst’s Orr Rink.
The Ephs are currently ranked third nationally one point behind second ranked Oswego, but have not played since downing Nichols College 3-1 at home on December 12.
Amherst opened the post holiday portion of their schedule on January 2 with a 3-2 win over Wesleyan and tied Trinity on Monday 2-2, winning their own Ben McCabe Tournament. After losing two in a row the Lord Jeffs have not lost in their last six games. The streak started with a 2-2 tie with defending NCAA champion Norwich.
Amherst is led in scoring by Eddie Effinger who has scored 5 goals and assisted on 5 for 10 points. Mark Colp has 4 goals and 4 assists for 8 points. Thus far the Lord Jeffs have out scored their opponents 30-17.
Usually between the pipes for Amherst is senior Cole Anderson who in 415:57 minutes has allowed 14 goals for a goals against average of 1.93. Anderson possesses a save percentage of .933.
Williams is the only team in the national top 15 without a loss this season. Kangas’s sextet has out scored the opposition 38-8, allowing just one goal a game on average. Junior netminder Ryan Purdy has been sensational, notching two shutouts and fashioning a .957 save percentage in 485 minutes.
The Eph attack has been well balanced this winter with senior forward Ben Contini and sophomore John Wickman leading in points with 13. Contini has scored 4 goals and assisted on 9; while Wickman has a team best 10 assists to go with 3 goals.
Three Ephs are tied for the team high in goals scored with 6: seniors Connor Olvany, and Matt Masucci, along with sophomore Eric Rubino. This trio along with Contini and Wickman gives Kangas five players with at least 10 points. To date eight Ephs have tallied more than one goal.
The Eph tie came versus Manhattanville, a team that defeated Amherst 5-0.
Williams has lost the last three times out versus the Lord Jeffs. “This will be a battle between two very evenly matched teams,” notes Eph head coach Bill Kangas. “We have a lot of respect for Amherst,” states Kangas. “They are a strong, well-coached team, and we will have to play an outstanding game and be at our very best. It’s Williams – Amherst.”
Bill Kangas is in his 22nd second year guiding the Ephs and he sports a record of 15-6-1 versus Amherst. From 1989-96 Kangas’s Ephs went 7 games (6 wins, 1 tie) without losing to the Lord Jeffs. His longest win streak is 6 from 1991-96
Williams leads the all-time series 86-30-3.
|Logan Todhunter '12|
1:00 p.m. Saturday in Williamstown the women’s swimming & diving meet will commence, featuring three of the nation’s top swimmers in Amherst’s Kendra Stern and the Eph tandem of Caroline Wilson and Logan Todhunter.
Amherst enters with a 4-0 mark while the Ephs are 3-1, with the loss (160.5–130.5) coming at the hands of Division I Fordham. One of the three Eph wins was over Division I Boston College.
Stern won the 100 and 200 freestyle events at last year’s NCAA Championships (in record time), but Wilson and Todhunter each went one better taking three NCAA titles, while also setting two records each. Wilson pinned a loss on Stern in the NCAA 500 free winning in 4:45.47, .06 ahead of Stern. Wilson and Stern swam a close race at NESCACs with Stern finishing on top.
As enticing as a Stern-Wilson re-match in the 500 free sounds it may not happen as both swimmers are very versatile and both coaches will try to place their superstars in events to generate maximum points and win the meet as opposed to winning a particular race.
Diving along with the 200 Medley Relay and both backstroke and breaststroke events will be hotly contested. Kuster sees these events as “up in the air” and the keys to victory.
“Last year we were the better team, but this year Amherst has a bigger first year class and they are deeper,” notes Kuster. “I expect this to be a much closer meet.”
Kuster is counting on the Ephs overall depth and their strength in the butterfly races to down the Lord Jeffs and deny Amherst the Little Three title.
Williams leads the all-time series 28-3.
|Troy Whittington '11|
2:00 p.m. Saturday in Amherst the men’s basketball game will tipoff with #2 Williams (13-0) battling an Amherst team that is 11-0 and ranked #17. Both teams have defeated Wesleyan this season so the winner of this non-NESCAC encounter will take a lead in the Little Three title quest. The Ephs have won the last two Little Three titles outright.
Williams has won its last three games without the inside presence of Troy Whittington. Whittington averages 17.8 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks a game.
Junior guard James Wang leads the Ephs in scoring with 18.5 a game and sophomore forward James Klemm is averaging 13.7 per game.
Amherst has five players averaging in double figures in Connor Meehan (13.7), Aaron Toomey (12.1), Willy Workman (11.3), Peter Kaasila (11.2), and Taylor Barrise (10.7). Workman is the Jeffs top rebounder with 5.3 a contest and Kaasila averages a team leading 1.2 blocks.
“We have great respect for Amherst College and their basketball team,” said Eph head coach Mike Maker. “They have a lot of talent, are well-coached, and like us have a rich tradition. This is a rivalry that a lot of people are passionate about and we are looking forward to the challenge. As always our focus will be on us as we self-scout and look to get the most out of our abilities.”
Under Maker the Ephs are 3-2 vs. Amherst and all-time the Ephs lead the series 114-87.
|Taylor Shea '11|
4:00 p.m. Saturday in Amherst Pat Manning’s Williams women’s basketball team, ranked #4 nationally, will take on the top ranked team in the nation in Amherst (12-0).
The Ephs recently tied the record for most consecutive wins to start a season at Williams set in 1974-75 when the Ephs went undefeated at 12-0.
The Ephs are led up front by the senior duo of Chessie Jackson and Taylor Shea. Jackson leads the Ephs in scoring with 12.1 a game, while Shea is averaging 11.7.
Shea is the Ephs top rebounder collecting 7.9 a game. Junior point guard Jill Greenberg is averaging 5.6 assists and 3.3 steals a game.
The Amherst team the Ephs will face is almost the same team they played a year ago as the Lord Jeffs lost no players to graduation and they have added to that talent level with some new players.
Jaclyn Daigneault leads Amherst in scoring at 13.3 a game and she is followed by five players who average at least 7 points a game. Only three opponents have been able to score 60 points against the Lord Jeffs this season.
Sarah Leyman leads Amherst on the glass snaring 6.6 rebounds a game. Shannon Finucane leads in assists with 3.3 and Daigneault is tops in steals (2.4).
Depth is a strength for Amherst as they have nine players who play 15 or more minutes a game.
Manning is in her 21st year at the helm of the Ephs and she owns a 30-12 record versus Amherst, winning 14 in a row from 2001-07, however, Amherst has won the last five meetings.
“I’m happy with where our team is at this point,” notes Manning. “We’ve had great senior leadership and several players have really stepped up their game. Williams-Amherst is always fun and exciting and we expect it will be the same on Saturday.”
Williams leads the all-time series 41-27.
|Chris Corbett '13|
4:00 p.m. Saturday the men’s swimming
& diving meet will feature 4-0 Amherst against a 2-2 Eph team
that has lost to Division I teams Boston College and Fordham, but
won both Division III meets.
A year ago the Ephs came home from Amherst with a 12-point win, but this year Amherst is a clear favorite, especially boasting a first year diver who is capable of winning both boards. “In the diving events alone we are looking at a possible 30 plus point swing, says Eph head coach Steve Kuster. The Ephs top diver Alex Long has just returned from a fall semester abroad so he will be counted on to do a lot with very little practice.
Ben Wampler in the sprints, Paul Dyrkacz in the breaststroke and IM, Gary Roberson in the mid-distance freestyles along with strong relay efforts are keys for the Ephs. “Pretty much every event we have a chance of winning we have to win,” states Kuster. The Ephs have virtually no margin of error against a talented and deep Amherst team. “A lot of things will have to go our way for us to come out on top, hopefully we’ll make it interesting,” comments Kuster.
Kuster is 8-3 all-time vs. Amherst in both women’s and men’s swimming & diving in his 11 years in the Purple Valley.
Williams leads the all-time series 69-31-1.