September 19, 2017

Nor'easter News - Week 3

By Henry Loughlin

Recap of the Week

We’re into just the third full week of action in the New England region and there have already been a number of exciting games. Mass-Boston suffered its first defeat of the year on Saturday, as visiting Keene State got the victory with 1:05 left in the second overtime. Elsewhere on that day, Middlebury went on the road to Amherst and won 1-0 through a free kick from Jed Sass, who also scored the lone goal in Sunday’s victory over Hamilton, Tufts fell from the ranks of perfection with a 0-0 home draw against Connecticut College, but was able to rebound by beating Trinity (Conn.) 2-0 a day later to improve to 4-0-1, and WPI upset Babson on the road by a score of 2-1.

Impressions

Though its nine-game winning streak – which dates back to last year’s NCAA Tournament – was snapped, defending national champion Tufts continued its undefeated start to the season with a win and a draw at home. On Saturday, the Jumbos were held by visiting Connecticut College, as – despite dominating the shot count, particularly in the second half and both overtimes – the hosts were unable to penetrate the Camels’ defense, which was led by an excellent effort from freshman goalkeeper A.J. Marcucci, whose eight saves kept the visitors in the game. The next day against Trinity (Conn.) was a different story, however, as Tufts’ strong second half saw the Jumbos score twice en route to a comfortable 2-0 victory. Friday, the Jumbos will face perhaps their most difficult test so far this year at home against Brandeis in a fixture that has emerged as one to watch in recent years in the New England region. The Jumbos have been dominant in their early-season fixtures, scoring eight goals and conceding none while outshooting their opponents 82-19, but it still appears that Tufts doesn’t have as dominant of a goal-scorer as it has in recent years. In truth, with a strong defense yet to concede a goal so far this year, it may not need one.

Last week’s Game of the Week between host Amherst and Middlebury certainly lived up to billing. After a scoreless first half between the two teams, the visiting Panthers got the first goal of the game off of a great free kick from Jed Sass. And, while the home side did put the ball in the net with around two minutes remaining off a throw-in, the goal was waved off as no player made contact with the effort on its way into the net. From there, Middlebury ran the clock out for its first win over Amherst since 2010, which was also the last year that the Panthers captured the NESCAC title. With a scalp like this under its belt, Middlebury will be confident it can compete for the conference crown in head coach Dave Saward’s final season.

Roger Williams has maintained its lead in the CCC, improving to 4-0-2 with a pair of results against difficult opponents. On Wednesday, the Hawks traveled to MIT and – despite trailing for much of the match – bagged the equalizer off a free kick with two minutes left. On Saturday, after being outshot by visiting Gordon, the Hawks held on for a seismic 1-0 victory, cementing Roger Williams’ status as a legitimate contender in its conference. With a number of teams looking capable of capturing the conference crown, including Endicott, Gordon, and Wentworth, the battle for the CCC title could perhaps be the most intriguing in the region this year, and will be one to keep an eye on – particularly when late October rolls around.

Brandeis improved to 4-1 with wins over WPI and Elms. On Wednesday versus WPI, the visiting Engineers took the lead on a free kick late in the first half before the Judges – having had two shots cleared off the line – finally got the equalizer with 11:33 left in regulation. Then, in the final minute of overtime, Mike Lynch put the ball home off a long throw to give the Judges the victory. Saturday saw Brandeis score early and often, as Josh Ocel scored directly off a corner kick in the first half, spurring the Judges to a 6-0 victory. In their aforementioned test against Tufts on Friday night, the Judges will be looking to get revenge on the Jumbos after Tufts’ victory in the final minute of 2OT at Brandeis last year. The Judges are 2-2 in their last four meetings versus Tufts, having lost at Tufts in 2013 before winning at home and away in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

The NEWMAC appears to be wide-open following Saturday’s game between Babson and WPI. In that match, the host Beavers scored early in the first half through Alex Crompton before the Engineers’ Paul Beatty – a recent transfer from Division I Mass. Lowell – bagged a double in two second-half minutes to give the visitors a 2-1 victory, sending Babson to its first home defeat of the year. Elsewhere on Saturday, Springfield continued its perfect start to the season with a 3-0 home win over Coast Guard, MIT romped to a 4-1 home victory over Wheaton (Mass.), and host Clark notched a late 1-0 victory over Emerson. Babson was tabbed as the preseason favorite and Springfield is the defending champion, but there are a number of other teams who will think they have a good opportunity to compete for the conference crown. It should be yet another unpredictable and exciting season in the NEWMAC.

Upcoming Game of the Week: Williams vs. Amherst

There are a number of compelling contests going on this week, and Tufts versus Brandeis certainly deserves an honorable mention, but this fixture is the undisputed granddaddy of them all in the New England region.

The history between these two teams is well documented, and the last five years have produced a number of memorable moments. 2012 saw Amherst and Williams draw during the regular season, Amherst win on Williams’ home pitch in the NESCAC Championship, and visiting Williams knock out their biggest rivals in the Elite 8 -- a game where the Ephs held on for dear life as Amherst rattled the woodwork five times before falling in the shootout. The next year was somewhat of the same, as Amherst won both the regular season and NESCAC Championship meetings before again falling in the Elite 8 at home, as Williams left back Chris Conder curled home a late free kick. Since that memorable day in November 2013, Amherst has dominated, winning 4-1 against the Ephs in 2014, stealing a victory in the last minute of double-overtime on the road in 2015 (en route to its first National Championship), and getting two late goals in a 4-2 home win last year.

Though fixture has been relatively one-sided in recent years, this year’s contest is shaping up to be more competitive. As previously mentioned, Amherst suffered its first regular-season home defeat since 2011, falling to Middlebury on Saturday. Williams, meanwhile, started with three consecutive wins, including a seismic scalp away at RPI before falling to Bowdoin on the road on Sunday. Neither team looks to be a clear-cut favorite, and with the Ephs hosting this contest, it’s distinctly possible that Williams could pick up its first win over Amherst in four years.

This rivalry fixture has it all: physicality, last-minute goals, drama, and more. Year after year, this game lives up to the hype, and this year should be no different.


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Nor'easter News

 

Nor'easter News provides coverage of Division III men's soccer throughout the New England region, home to the NESCAC, one of the nation's strongest and deepest conferences, as well as the NEWMAC, CCC, LEC and others. Each week the more significant results of the previous week are discussed, along with impressions and analysis, followed by the selection of a game to keep an eye on in the week ahead.

Columnist

Henry Loughlin

Henry Loughlin is a Brandeis University graduate (2014, Politics & American Studies) and has enjoyed watching Division III soccer for the past six years as a student and alumnus. Though a writer by trade, his interest in numbers and statistical analysis makes soccer writing and commentary a favorite pastime. [see full bio]

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