October 2, 2017

Nor'easter News - Week 5

By Henry Loughlin

Recap of the Week

With September over and October arriving in its place, we are starting to really see what teams are made of. Having started the season with a couple of difficult results, Amherst picked up two massive home victories over Tufts (1-0) and Rutgers-Newark (2-1) in overtime, giving the Mammoths a major boost. And though Tufts conceded its first goal of the year in hard-luck circumstances, the Jumbos rebounded with a key NESCAC win over Hamilton a day later. Elsewhere, Brandeis snagged a pair of road victories both near and far, Springfield looks to be the NEWMAC favorite after a perfect September, and St. Joseph’s became the only D3 team left with an unblemished defensive record.

Impressions

After a rough start to the year, including its first regular season home defeat since 2011, Amherst had arguably the best weekend of any New England side. First, on Saturday, the Mammoths did battle with previously-unbeaten Tufts. While the visiting Jumbos outshot their hosts by a large margin, Amherst defended resolutely, got a 62nd-minute own goal off a long throw-in from Bryce Johnson, and secured an invaluable victory. The goal was also the first that Tufts had conceded this year. On Sunday, the Mammoths picked up where they left off against NJAC powerhouse Rutgers-Newark, scoring first and holding a 1-0 advantage going into the half. And while the Scarlet Raiders equalized in the second half and Amherst had a man sent off in overtime, the Mammoths found the winning goal through Sebastian Derby with 97:55 on the clock. In beating Rutgers-Newark, Amherst gave yet another previously-undefeated opponent its first setback of the season. With things looking much more optimistic for coach Justin Serpone’s side, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Mammoths start to work their way up the rankings to their accustomed place among the elite.

Just four days earlier, Tufts had been on a high after winning 3-0 at Wesleyan. After the setback versus Amherst, the Jumbos regrouped with a 1-0 road victory over Hamilton on Sunday, with striker Joseph Braun netting his first collegiate goal. While Tufts has relied on its offense in years past, defense has been the Jumbos’ calling card this year, as coach Josh Shapiro’s side has only conceded one goal in nine games -- an own goal, at that. The Jumbos will face several stern tests over the weeks to come, including trips to Williams and a home match against Bowdoin, who has been Tufts’ bogey team in recent years. Yet with a stingy backline and opportunistic finishing, Tufts has a great chance of securing the top seed for the NESCAC tournament and making a deep run into the postseason.

Under sixth-year head coach Steffen Siebert, who won his first NEWMAC title last year, Springfield continues to set the pace in its conference, sitting at a perfect 8-0. Some thought the Pride would come back to the pack after losing star striker Luke Alvaro to graduation, but Springfield have romped through their first eight opponents, scoring 27 and conceding just four. In its most recent victory on the road at Clark, the Pride got two goals in the first half and held on for a 2-0 win over the Cougars. Springfield will have some tough tests over the next few weeks, including trips to conference foes MIT and WPI and a home match against Mass-Boston. Moreover, there are a number of quality sides in the NEWMAC, and it appears that a number of teams could be in contention for the conference title. However, if its start is any indication, Springfield has responded admirably to the pressure, and looks to have a good chance of defending the NEWMAC crown.

Having fallen to Tufts on Sept. 22, Brandeis has rebounded from that setback quite nicely with a pair of road victories. First, on Tuesday, the Judges put five unanswered goals past Wheaton (Mass.) after the host Lyons had opened the scoring in the 3rd minute of the game. On Sunday, Brandeis traveled to Cleveland, OH, to face UAA opponent Case Western. And while that game was a bit tighter, striker Pat Flahive’s 4th minute goal stood up for a 1-0 victory. The Judges have a two-game homestand coming up, first hosting MIT on Tuesday before conference foe Carnegie Mellon comes to town on Saturday. Both games will be difficult tests for the Judges: five of the last six games against MIT have been decided by one goal, while seven of the last nine matches against Carnegie have been one-goal games. Even with the difficult caliber of opposition coming up, Brandeis seems to be coming into form under new head coach Gabe Margolis as October begins.

With Tufts letting in its first goal of the year on Saturday, St. Joseph’s (Maine) is the lone Division III men’s team in the country that hasn’t conceded a goal this season. The 2016 GNAC Champions picked up two more wins this past week, defeating Anna Maria at home and Suffolk on the road by a composite score of 9-0. As a result of St. Joseph’s defensive prowess, goalkeeper Blake Mullen is ranked joint-first in the nation in goals allowed, having played in all nine of his team’s games. Striker Brett Mattos, meanwhile, leads the team with 10 goals and 4 assists on just 26 shots, giving him an impressive shot conversion statistic of 0.385. The Monks will likely face a tough test in the conference tournament from Norwich, the 2016 GNAC Runner-Up and the lone side to give St. Joseph’s a blemish this year, but, as stated last week, there’s definitely potential for coach Adrian Dubois’ team to make a postseason run.

Upcoming Game of the Week: Endicott vs. Gordon

With just three miles separating these two schools, the geographic proximity of Endicott and Gordon would be enough for a rivalry to establish. Yet this grudge match is about much more than that -- these two schools have emerged as two of the top programs in the CCC, with the former sitting in first place in the conference standings.

Back on Oct. 27, 2015, Endicott triumphed at home, 1-0, in the Gulls’ final regular season contest. Just 11 days later, however, in the CCC Championship game, visiting Gordon handed host Endicott a gut-wrenching loss, striking twice in the first 36 minutes and shutting the Gulls out en route to a 2-0 result. The next year, Endicott picked up a measure of revenge with a 1-0 win at Gordon, before both teams bowed out in the CCC semifinals.

This year, both teams have started the season well, although Endicott has done marginally better to this point. Endicott sits at 6-1-2, the lone loss coming at home against Johnson and Wales, while picking up an impressive victory at Trinity (Conn.). Gordon, meanwhile, has won its last four, including a notable victory at Colby. One common opponent the two teams have is Roger Williams -- Gordon suffered a 1-0 away defeat to the Hawks, while Endicott defeated Roger Williams, 4-0, also on the road. Yet while Endicott has started the better of the two teams, coach Joe Calabrese will know that form counts for nothing in rivalry game. Will this be a chance for Gordon to make a statement, or will Endicott cement its status as the favorite in the CCC? Time will tell.

 


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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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