WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- Amherst-Williams is a historic, celebrated and well-known rivalry.
Somehow, on Sunday, it may feel even bigger.
The No. 5-ranked Williams College (18-3) will host No. 7-ranked Amherst College (17-3) at 1 p.m. on Farley-Lamb Field in an NCAA Div. III Tournament national semifinal. The winner will advance to the Div. III national championship game Sunday, May 26, at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. Tickets for the semifinal are $4 for adults and $2 for students. Children 2 and under will be admitted free.
"Our program feels very fortunate to be hosting the national lacrosse semifinals on Sunday and being matched up against a great rival like Amherst makes it that much more special," Ephs' head coach George McCormack said.
The third time this spring the sides will see each other on the field; Williams defeated the Mammoths, 13-11, on April 6 at Farley-Lamb Field and 11-8 on May 4 in the NESCAC Semifinals played at Tufts University.
Williams has enjoyed a historic season to date, setting a new school record for a single-season with 18 victories to date, including the first three NCAA Tournament victories in program history. This is the Ephs second appearance in the NCAA Tournament, the first coming in 2008. The Ephs opened the NCAA Tournament, after a first-round bye, by defeating Keene State at home, 21-10. In the Third Round, they knocked off St. John Fisher at home, 17-12. On Wednesday, the Ephs traveled to Rochester to battle No. 1 R.I.T. in an NCAA Quarterfinal. Down 11-8, Williams rallied with two goals in the final 96 seconds of regulation and won the game when junior Kevin Stump scored with 58 seconds left in the second overtime.
Williams has three 50-goal scorers in sophomore Cory Lund, whose 64 goals broke the single-season school record of 58 set by John Moorhead in 2001; junior Kevin Stump, who has 58 goals and 23 assists for 81 points and junior Brendan Hoffman, who has 53 goals and 19 assists for 72 points. Prior to this season, Williams had not had a 50-goal scorer in a single-season since Moorhead in 2001. In addition, first-year Jake Haase has topped Moorhead's single-season point total record with his total of 96 (65 assists, 31 goals) to date.
The Ephs enter today's game allowing 10.38 goals per contest. They have allowed 10 or fewer goals nine times. Williams had garnered 754 ground balls, 35.90 per game, and has won 55.7 percent of its face-offs and has 167 caused turnovers. Sophomore Harry Gahagan enters Wednesday with a 18-3 record in 2019 with a 10.06 goals against average and a .535 save percentage. Rock Stewart leads the Ephs with 36 caused turnovers, while Alex Kitt has won 263 face-offs this season and leads Williams with 136 ground balls.
Amherst received a First Round bye to the national postseason after falling in the NESCAC Semifinals to Williams. The Mammoths powered past Elizabethtown, 21-9, and No. 10 Wesleyan, 16-13, in the Second and Third Rounds to earn a spot in the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2016. Taking on No. 3 Tufts on May 15, Amherst edged the Jumbos, 13-11 to advance to the program's first ever Final Four.
Amherst is led by 2019 NESCAC Player of the Year Evan Wolf, who has tallied 113 points this season behind a 72-goal, 41-assist effort to headline a dangerous Amherst attack, while junior Colin Minicus has proved to be reliable playmaker with a team-high 46 assists in addition to 36 scores and 82 total points. A 44-goal, 23-assist effort by Matt Solberg ranks him third on the team in points (67), while Jon Coffey (51G, 9A, 60P) is Amherst's fourth and final 50-point getter.
Dylan Finazzo and Juan Gonzalez have given Amherst a strong 1-2 punch in the face-off dot, with Finazzo going 100-165 (60.6%) and picking up 47 ground balls, and Gonzalez owning a 172-312 (55.2%) mark and corralling a team-high 88 ground balls. Rod Castro (36 CTs, 43 GBs), James Crovatto (31 CTs, 30 GBs) and Tamer Sullivan (21 CTs, 35 GBs) headline the Mammoths' defensive unit.
Amherst has employed three goalkeepers this season. Taking over the reins as of late, Gib Versfeld (4-2) has logged 122 saves in six starts (474:48) to own a 10.49 GAA and 57.4 save percentage.