October 15, 2018

Nor'easter News - Week 7

By Henry Loughlin

Recap of the Week

Halfway through October, there’s little separation in three of New England’s top conferences. In the NESCAC, it seems to be Conn. College and Tufts who will finish in the top two spots (the order is yet to be determined, however). The CCC appears to be between four contenders, including Endicott, Salve Regina, Roger Williams, and Gordon. And the NEWMAC looks like it may come down to Springfield, WPI, Babson, and Clark, with the teams in the top two spots — Springfield and WPI — doing battle this weekend in Worcester.

Impressions

Conn. College (10-0-2 / 6-0-2) and Tufts (11-0-2 / 6-0-2) both ended September with their perfect records intact. And while October has seen both teams relinquish that perfection with draws against Amherst (8-3-1 /4-3-1) and Middlebury (7-2-3 / 4-2-2), respectively, they still appear to be the top two teams in the conference, a perception augmented by the 0-0 draw between the two sides on Saturday. The host Camels saw an onslaught of shots from visiting Tufts, but goalkeeper AJ Marcucci and the Conn. defense held firm, keeping the Jumbos off the board and the Camels’ hopes for the conference regular season title alive. For its part, Tufts took care of business in its other matches this week, downing Babson 3-1 at home in a non-conference tilt and, after the draw in New London, traveled to Hartford where it thumped Trinity (Conn.) (2-11-0 / 0-9-0) 6-0. Of course, there are a number of NESCAC teams looking to unseat Conn. and Tufts from their top-two positions — fourth-placed Amherst rallied from 1-0 down in the second half to force a 1-1 draw with host Conn. on Tuesday, while third-placed Middlebury held Tufts by the same scoreline three days earlier on Oct. 6th — but until the Camels or Jumbos are knocked from the unbeaten ranks, it’s likely that they’ll continue to be the prohibitive conference co-favorites.

The race for the CCC seems to be a four-horse race. Endicott has overcome its early-season struggles, pulling off a pair of conference road wins at local rival Gordon (3-2 in OT) and Wentworth (3-1) this week. The Gulls, who started 1-4, currently sit at 8-4-2, including a 5-0-2 mark in conference. Salve Regina, meanwhile, is having its best season in recent memory, sitting at (13-0-2 / 4-0-1 in conference) and sits right on the Gulls' heels — the two teams played to a 0-0 draw in September. After a perfect September, Roger Williams (13-2-0 / 3-2-0 CCC) dropped a pair of games (to Endicott and Salve), before rebounding with a 3-2 OT win at Gordon on Saturday. Gordon, meanwhile, dropped two consecutive OT decisions this past week to Endicott and Roger Williams (2-1 in OT), putting the Scots at 7-6-0 overall, 3-2-0 in the CCC. This one seems to be truly up in the air: Endicott is in first place and has played arguably the toughest schedule, but Salve is the one without any blemishes and seemingly has the momentum. The latter declaration will be put to the test when the Seahawks host a Gordon side that is still smarting from two consecutive OT losses this weekend. And with the conference playoffs starting less than two weeks from now, it'll be interesting to see how things shake out.

Another conference with four teams right in the hunt is the NEWMAC. At the top of the table is Springfield, which sits at 10-3-0 (4-1-0 in conference play). WPI (9-2-2 / 3-0-2 NEWMAC) sits in second, having won four straight since its OT loss to Roger Williams back on Sept. 26. Babson (7-2-4 / 3-0-2 NEWMAC) is third and is the only conference side to have beaten WPI (a home win back in September). The Beavers were defeated 3-1 at Tufts on Tuesday night, but rebounded with a 1-0 victory at Wheaton (Mass.) (7-8-0 / 2-3-0) on Saturday. Occupying the fourth spot is Clark, who, at 10-3-1 (2-2-1 NEWMAC) will have its credentials tested with a trip to Brandeis (7-5-1 / 2-1-1) and a home tilt against Babson to come this week. As is the case with the CCC, there’s very little separation between the top teams. It will be interesting to see how things stack up when the conference tournament begins.

Upcoming Game of the Week: Springfield vs. WPI

The top two teams in the NEWMAC do battle in Springfield this weekend. Host Springfield is currently the top team in the conference but visiting WPI remains undefeated in NEWMAC play.

The Pride have really started to click under first-year head coach Tom Crabill, winning each of its last five since a 2-1 loss at Babson on Sept. 22. Defending conference champion WPI, however, has some nice results this year, including non-conference wins over Wesleyan (3-9-0 / 2-6-0) and Brandeis, with its only setbacks being at home to a pair of CCC teams: Endicott and Roger Williams. Since that eight-day winless stretch (the Engineers also drew with MIT (5-6-2 / 0-3-2) between those losses) that ended on Sept. 26th, WPI has won four straight.

There has been little to separate these two teams in the last couple of years. Last year, Springfield — who had started the year with 15 straight wins — suffered its first blemish on Oct. 21st, as it was held to a 0-0 draw at WPI. A couple of weeks later, WPI won the conference title on Springfield’s home field, prevailing on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw. And while it’s highly likely that the two teams could play out to yet another draw, a winner on Saturday could well point in the direction that the conference title is heading this year.

 


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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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