Nor'easter News - Week 5
Recap of the Week
Wake up — September has ended! (H/T to Green Day.) Yes, October is here, and — surprisingly enough — there are at last four perfect teams left in the region: Connecticut College (8-0-0 / 5-0-0), Roger Williams (11-0-0 / 2-0-0), St. Joseph’s (Maine) (10-0-0 / 6-0-0), and Tufts (9-0-0 / 5-0-0). (Feel free to email me if there’s one I missed.) The last weekend of September did yield some good contests: in perhaps the biggest game of the weekend, Tufts saw off visiting Amherst (4-3-0 / 2-3-0), 2-1, bossing most of the game and holding firm when the Mammoths threw the kitchen sink in the last 20 minutes. The Jumbos also beat Wesleyan (2-5-0 / 1-3-0) and Hamilton (5-4-0 / 3-3-0) by identical 1-0 scorelines, with both game-winners coming from forward Joe Braun. Conn. picked up a big win over visiting Williams (4-2-1 / 2-2-1) to keep its perfect record alive, while Roger Williams beat visiting Emmanuel (4-5-1 / 3-1-1), 2-1. St. Joseph’s, meanwhile, downed Colby-Sawyer (4-6-0 / 4-3-0) at home, 4-0, on Wednesday.
The Jumbos of Tufts University had a grueling stretch of three games in five days, playing a trio of NESCAC contests Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Following that stretch, however, the Jumbos sit at 9-0-0. Wednesday’s game against visiting Wesleyan saw Tufts come up against an inspired Cardinals side, who held firm throughout the first half. Midway through the second, however, the aforementioned Braun finished off a corner to give the Jumbos all the offense they would need to get the 1-0 victory. Against Amherst on Saturday, the Jumbos got the early jump when midfielder Mati Cano scored in the 22nd minute, rounding off a nice move with a thumping finish at the back post. Midfielder Travis van Brewer added to the advantage after the interval with a rocket from 18 yards in the 60th minute. Tufts was made to work for the victory, however, as — despite controlling play for the majority of the game — it was pegged back by Amherst’s Sebastian Derby, who finished off a cross from Dane Lind to cut the deficit to one goal. And while Amherst — who would go 1-1-0 on the weekend after beating visiting Bates (5-3-0 / 3-3-0) on Sunday — pushed for the equalizer, the Jumbos held firm, giving Tufts a 2-1 win over the Mammoths. Sunday, the Jumbos welcomed Hamilton, who had snatched a 1-0 win in OT at Wesleyan on Saturday. The visiting Continentals held firm for most of the game, before Braun delivered for the second time in three games to give his side yet another 1-0 victory. The Jumbos travel to Middlebury (4-2-2 / 2-2-1) this weekend, looking to make it 10-0 for the first time in recent memory.
Tufts has gotten all of the attention thus far in the NESCAC, but Conn. College also remains perfect in the NESCAC also. The Camels pulled off another big win, holding off a resurgent Williams team this weekend, 1-0, in New London, as forward Liam Noonan finished off a first-half chance. Conn. has a balanced attack — six players have scored multiple goals — but its calling card thus far this year has been defense: goalkeeper AJ Marcucci, last year’s NESCAC Rookie of the Year, has conceded just one goal in 8 games this year — and that was a penalty kick against Endicott (4-4-2 / 1-0-2) in a 4-1 win. It will be intriguing to see the Camels battle Tufts in less than two weeks’ time (Saturday, October 13), and — given that the Camels picked up a highly respectable draw in Medford last year — it wouldn’t be too surprising to see them pull off a home scalp against last year’s conference champions. Of course, Tufts will be coming to town looking for nothing less than a victory, so it should be a great game. Mark your calendars.
Roger Williams picked up another scalp on Wednesday — and arguably its biggest to date — beating defending NEWMAC Champion WPI (6-2-2 / 1-0-2) on the road, 1-0, in overtime. In that match, the Hawks were outshot 13-7, but made the decisive contribution when Ryan Miller scored just 34 seconds into overtime. The Hawks got another victory on Saturday over visiting Emmanuel (4-5-1 / 3-1-1), 2-1, and will face both non-conference Bridgewater State (5-4-0 / 1-2-0) and resurgent CCC side Endicott on Saturday. In this form, however, it’s hard to see the undefeated Hawks being shocked by either of its upcoming opponents.
Setting the pace in the NEWMAC thus far this season has been Springfield (7-3-0 / 2-1-0), winner of the 2016 conference crown. The Pride had an inauspicious start to this season, going 3-2 in their first five games, but have rolled off four victories in their last five to improve to 7-3 overall and 2-1 in the NEWMAC. Two of the other strong starters in the conference, WPI and Babson (4-1-4 / 1-0-2), have come slightly back down to Earth, with Babson being held at MIT (4-3-2 / 0-1-2) on Saturday (0-0), while the Engineers suffered the aforementioned defeat to Roger Williams on Wednesday, but the race for the conference crown seems as competitive as ever.
Salem State was last year’s MASCAC Champion, and the Vikings have picked up right where they left off. The squad is now 7-1-1 overall, 2-01-in the MASCAC, with the sole loss coming on the road at CCC side Wentworth (5-5-1 / 1-1-0). There is a lot of the race left to run for the Vikings, including a tough trip to Westfield State (2-4-2 / 1-0-2) to finish the regular season — the Vikings downed the Owls on penalty kicks in last year’s conference final — but Salem State looks to be in pole position for MASCAC conference seeding.
Upcoming Game of the Week: Endicott vs. Roger Williams
Endicott won last year's CCC crown — and garnered its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid — through a combination of opportunistic offense and stingy defense. This year hasn't gone totally to plan for the Gulls, however, started 1-4 after a tough slate of games against opponents like Brandeis (4-4-1 / 0-0-1), St. Joseph's (Maine), Trinity (Conn.) (2-6-0 /0-5-0), and the aforementioned Conn. College. However, they have started to get back on track, and are now 4-4-2 (and fourth in the conference) after two consecutive road wins over Johnson & Wales (R.I.) (6-3-2 / 4-1-1) and Nichols (6-3-1 / 0-2-1).
Roger Williams, meanwhile, has been one of the surprises of the season thus far, as they went 11-0 in September. The Hawks have conceded just five goals in those 11 games for an impressive goals-against average of 0.44, with Edmund Geschickter (save pct. of .912) and James Lee (save pct. of .900) starting seven and four games, respectively, in net. Despite all this, the Hawks are second in the conference to Salve Regina — whose 9-0-1 overall record includes a 2-0-1 conference mark, while the Hawks are 2-0 — but Roger Williams has undoubtedly been the CCC surprise so far this year.
Of course, most CCC coaches would tell you that the most important part of their season is the CCC Tournament — the last time a CCC team received an NCAA at-large bid was 2013) — so Endicott's early-season blemishes may count for naught if the Gulls land their second conference crown. Despite an impressive start, Roger Williams, meanwhile, may be left to rue what might have been if it doesn’t go all the way. Of course, this is all premature speculation — there are plenty of games to be played between now and then — but what isn’t speculative is that this game should be some great entertainment.
Comments or feedback for the author? E-mail Henry Loughlin