October 15, 2017

Nor'easter News - Week 7

By Henry Loughlin

Recap of the Week

As the foliage starts to change (finally), we are less than two weeks away from the start of many conference tournaments. Although championships aren’t won until November (or, for one team, December), there is much to play for in October; namely, seeding. This weekend, Tufts (currently sitting in first-place in the NESCAC) improved to 10-1-1 with a 1-0 victory on the road at Bates. Colby, meanwhile, showed that it could spring a postseason upset or two with a 2-1 2OT victory over Amherst. In that game, the Mules led for most of the match, conceded the equalizer with less than five minutes remaining, yet regrouped to snatch one of the biggest wins in program history. Meanwhile, Springfield became the only team in the country with a perfect record (12-0), while St. Joseph’s (Maine) still remains the only side yet to give up a goal.

Impressions

While there were a number of significant results throughout the region, the unofficial accolade of “biggest upset of the weekend” has to go to Colby. Facing perennial NESCAC powerhouse Amherst, a team which has traditionally had its way with Colby, the Mules went 1-0 up in the 17th minute when striker Jeff Rosenberg scored. That advantage held for the rest of the first half and much of the second, but Amherst did as Amherst does and got a late equalizer through Weller Hlinomaz with just 4:42 remaining in regulation. At that point, I figured the narrative would continue down a familiar direction, with Amherst getting a win in overtime. Instead, it would be the Mules who won the game in the second overtime, as Rosenberg fed Jansen Aoyama -- brother of former Amherst standouts Julien and Justin -- for the winning goal in the 105th minute. Arguably the biggest win of coach Ewan Seabrook’s four-year tenure, even considering Colby’s 2-1 2OT victory over Williams last year, this result augments the belief that no team would want to face the Mules in a NESCAC playoff game. Amherst got back in the win column with a 2-1 victory at Bates on Sunday, but look out, NESCAC: Colby is a program on the rise.

About an hour south of Waterville, fellow conference side and 2016 NESCAC tournament finalist Hamilton boosted its pedigree with a 2-1 victory over Bowdoin. Midfielder Bobby Chapman buried a pair of first-half goals just 94 seconds apart -- the first, off a rebound; the second, a finish assisted by Aidan Wood. Bowdoin would get one back in the second half, making the final quarter-hour relatively interesting. And, though the Polar Bears had a couple of opportunities down the stretch, the visiting Continentals were able to hold on for a victory that keeps it in the hunt for a good seed in the upcoming NESCAC tournament.

After coming away with a 0-0 draw on its last visit to Bates in 2015, Tufts traveled to Lewiston in search of its fourth win in a row. Despite an inspired defensive effort from the Bobcats, who got nine saves from goalkeeper Robbie Montanaro, Tufts was able to break the deadlock in the 85th minute when Travis van Brewer finished off a corner kick. The Bobcats almost got the equalizer with time winding down, but it wasn’t to be, as Tufts augmented its grip on the top spot in the NESCAC. With upcoming tests against Williams and Bowdoin, Tufts isn’t home-and-dry yet as far as hosting the conference tournament goes. In this vein of form, however, the 10-1-1 Jumbos appear to be the favorite to lock-up the first seed.

Defending NEWMAC champion Springfield improved its record to 12-0 with shutout victories over Mass-Boston and Emerson this past week. On Tuesday, the Pride got goals on either side of halftime en route to a 2-0 win over the former, while Saturday saw Springfield score five in the second half to pull away from the visiting Lions. Though questions have been asked over the strength of Springfield’s schedule, 12-0 doesn’t happen by accident -- after all, it’s the best start in program history. Springfield remains the only team in the country with a perfect record after HCAC side Transylvania were upset in double-overtime on Saturday by conference foe Manchester. As such, the Pride continue to look the favorite for the upcoming NEWMAC tournament, where they will no doubt have a number of teams looking to knock them off. But this team appears to be up to the challenge.

Having lost a 1-0 decision at Rochester on Friday, Brandeis traveled to Atlanta to face UAA foe Emory. The game was typical of many UAA games, as there weren’t many clear openings for either side -- Emory had a ball cleared off the line by a Brandeis defender, while the Judges’ Mike Lynch crashed a shot against the left post from 25 yards out in the second overtime. And though the game looked destined for a 0-0 draw, striker Patrick Flahive headed home the winner in the 108th minute to give Brandeis an invaluable 1-0 victory at a notoriously difficult ground (the Judges are 2-14 at Emory, with both wins coming in the last two visits to Atlanta).

Last, but certainly not least, I have to give (what is becoming) the weekly mention to St. Joseph’s (Maine) for being the last remaining team in the nation with a perfect defensive record. The Monks won on the road against a pair of Boston-area opponents this week, thumping Emmanuel 6-0 before dismantling Lasell in similarly impressive fashion, 5-0. St. Joseph’s will no doubt face more difficult tests as the postseason rolls around, and a rematch with Norwich in the GNAC tournament -- the only team to hold the Monks thus far this year -- is likely. That said, with a resume-boosting win against Bowdoin on its CV this year, it would be foolish to bet against St. Joseph’s.

Upcoming Game of the Week: Bowdoin vs. Connecticut College

A matchup between the second- and third-placed teams in any conference is sure to be exciting; this one is no different.

Connecticut College hasn’t beaten Bowdoin since 2011, but this team appears to be primed to end that drought, as coach Ken Murphy has the Camels firing on all cylinders at this point in the year. At the same time, Bowdoin coach Scott Wiercinski will set his team up for success, so this won’t be an easy battle by any means.

Both Bowdoin and Conn. will be looking to rebound from recent losses: Conn. dropped an OT heartbreaker at Amherst off an own-goal last Tuesday, while Bowdoin fell at home to Hamilton on Saturday. Both have resolute defenses, led by two of the best goalkeepers in the conference in Stevie van Siclen and A.J. Marcucci. Most importantly, both are battle-tested and will have aspirations well beyond this game, and will look to send a message to the rest of the NESCAC that they mean business. All the ingredients are in place for a thrilling game -- one that could well have a big say in where these teams end up for the conference tournament seedings.

 


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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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