MEDFORD, MASS. – The Williams College men's lacrosse team (15-2) advanced to the NESCAC Championship game with an 11-8 NESCAC Tournament semifinal win over arch rival Amherst College (14-3) in a game played on the campus of Tufts University. The win was the second this season by the Ephs over the Mammoths.
Credit the Eph defense for the win as they held the NESCAC Player of the Year Evan Wolf in check limiting him to just two goals and one assist on the day. Amherst entered the contest averaging 19 goals a game.
The Ephs opened up a 5-1 first quarter lead taking advantage of two man-up opportunities that saw Brendan Hoffman net two goals. Hoffman tallied three scores in the quarter and his last was an unassisted tally with 8 seconds left in the frame. Kevin Stump netted the other two Eph scores. NESCAC Rookie of he Year Jake Haase had two assists with one on a Hoffman goal and one on a Stump score.
The Ephs held Amherst scoreless for 16 minutes over the course of the end of the first quarter and the early minutes of the second quarter.
Amherst re-grouped and blanked the Ephs in the second quarter, while getting two goals. One goal from Evan Wolf, on on a nifty rebound conversion and a score by Matt Solberg.
Williams held a 5-4 lead at the intermission.
Amherst out scored Williams 4-2 in the third quarter taking an 8-7 lead on an unassisted goal by Colin Minicus with eight seconds remaining in the quarter.
Down 8-7 with 15 minutes to play the Eph defense rose up again and blanked the Mammoths in the fourth quarter.
At 12:59 Brendan Hoffman over powered his defender and bounced in a shot to knot the score at eight all. The go-ahead goal and eventual game-winner came from John Hincks who leaped into the air to snare a rebound off a shot, caught the ball, and slipped it past Amherst goalie Gib Versfeld and then landed near, but not in the crease.
The Ephs scored three man-up goals in a game that saw Amherst penalized nine times for eight minutes. Eph goalie Harry Gahagan stopped 20 shots by the Mammoths and allowed eight goals, while the Mammoths' Gib Versfeld made 18 saves and allowed 11 goals.
Brendan Hoffman led all scorers with four goals, Kevin Stump added three, and assisted on two, while Haase scored two goals and had a game high three assists. Evan Wolf was the lone Mammoth player to score more than one goal on the day (2) and Colin Minicus added a goal and registered two assists.
Eph head coach George McCormack noted, "Our defense was spectacular today in holding that potent offense to eight goals. First year Chris Burdick did a good job on Evan Wolf but it was the entire defense that stood out. Defense was the difference in the game."
"Our guys are really excited to play for the NESCAC Championship tomorrow. It should be a fun game."
The win puts the Ephs into the NESCAC Championship tilt for the first time since 2008.
In addition the win by the Ephs sets a men's program record for the most wins in one season for a team that began in 1928 and ties the all-time Eph record for most lacrosse wins in a season set by the Eph women's team that went 15-0 in 1996.
Williams will face host Tufts tomorrow at noon at Tufts to determine the 2019 NESCAC champion and the team that will earn the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.