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Canton’s Chris Lerner a defensive stopper for Amherst soccer

Lerner steps up for Amherst

Amherst College men’s soccer coach Justin Serpone said he’d never seen a player as genuinely happy after a victory as his senior captain, Chris Lerner (inset), was last Sunday.

The Lord Jeffs had just defeated archrival Williams, 2-0, to clinch the New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament championship and secure an automatic berth in the NCAA Division 3 tournament.

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Lerner, a starting defender from Canton who assisted on the first goal and whose throw-in led to the second, had another reason to be ecstatic.

“It was our first victory over Williams for the senior class and we did it on their field,” said Lerner, who was named NESCAC Player of the Week after his outstanding two-way effort.

“We had tied them three times and lost once. They’re a great program and they always play us tough. Going into a game like that you bring some extra energy, and I was never more confident about our team because of how we’ve played all season.’’

Amherst (15-0-2, 8-0-2 NESCAC), ranked second nationally, has allowed just two goals this season while posting 15 shutouts en route to consecutive conference titles. Sunday, the Lord Jeffs host the winner of Thursday’s Dickinson-Westfield State matchup.

“Chris is a 90-minute player who sets goals for himself in a quiet way, and he’s a driven defender who is just as dynamic going forward,’’ said Serpone, whose team has advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 the past two years.

Lerner, a first team All-NESCAC selection who attended Thayer Academy, aspires to be a sports journalist. He contributed to the Braintree school’s literary magazine.

“I have a great passion for sports and for writing,’’ said Lerner, a standout on Independent School League championship soccer and baseball teams. His brothers, Matthew and John,  were Thayer baseball teammates who went on to play college ball.

Asked what would be the first line of a story he would write about his soccer experience in college, Lerner replied, “Hard work pays off.’’

He’s also a tad superstitious, refusing to get a haircut during his team’s tournament run.

“I’m getting a little shaggy, but I hope it gets even longer,’’ said Lerner. “I’m approaching every game knowing it could be my last and giving everything I have to go further than last year.’’

Game-winning goals for Robinson

Foxborough’s Eric Robinson  (inset), a junior forward on the men’s hockey team at Dartmouth, has had a flair for the dramatic: He has scored all three game-winning goals for the Big Green (3-0-1).

The Catholic Memorial School graduate, who led Dartmouth with 12 goals last season, was named ECAC Player of the Week after he scored the deciding tally with 5:45 to play in a 2-1 win over Brown and also helped end Dartmouth’s 0-10-1 drought against Yale, 7-4, with two goals and an assist.

Through four games, the 6-3, 200-pound Robinson had scored five goals. His game winners and 1.25 goals per game were tops in the nation through last weekend.

“Eric’s a big, strong power forward who can really shoot the puck,’’ said Dartmouth head coach Bob Gaudet. “His shot can beat a goalie without a screen from the top of the circle. And he’s worked hard over the summer to get better in all aspects of his game.’’

Trager continues to roll at Ithaca

Nice comeback story for Sharon’s Megan Trager, a midfielder on the women’s soccer team at Ithaca that was ranked sixth nationally in Division 3 prior to this weekend’s NCAA tournament games.

Trager, a former All-Empire 8 Conference pick, was sidelined last season with an injury when the Bombers advanced to the national semifinals. Now a graduate student, the former Sharon High captain and team MVP has appeared in 20 games and chipped in with a goal and assist.

“We’re thrilled Megan decided to use her final year of eligibility. Her vision and ability to distribute the ball are such an asset for us,’’ said Ithaca coach Mindy Quigg. “She reads the game very well and her maturity on the field has been invaluable for us.’’

Notables

The Apponequet Regional High softball team has been recognized by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association as the 25th-ranked academic high school softball team in the nation and the top-ranked academic high school softball team in New England. . . Bridgewater State University freshman defender Kolin Campbell  of Norton was named Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Soccer Rookie of the Year.

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