October 22, 2018

Nor'easter News - Week 8

By Henry Loughlin

Recap of the Week

Conference tournaments will begin this weekend, but the last weekend of the regular season provided some compelling action. Babson has gained top spot in the NEWMAC with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory at Clark, but Springfield and WPI remain hot on its heels.

GNAC favorite St. Joseph’s (Maine) remained perfect with a 13-0 win over Lasell, improving its record to 16-0 in the process. CCC frontrunner Endicott fell at home against UAA power Rochester, 2-0, but still appears to be the favorite for its conference crown, although three teams are just behind in the standings.

The NAC crown looks to be between two Central Maine schools, as Thomas and Husson seem to have slightly separated themselves from the rest of the conference, although Maine Maritime and SUNY Canton are not far behind. And Tufts took sole possession of the top spot in the NESCAC, beating Williams 3-1, while fellow front-runner Conn. College stumbled at Bowdoin.

Impressions

Babson (9-2-4 / 4-0-2) has taken over atop the NEWMAC, ending the tug-of-war between Springfield (11-3-1 / 4-1-1) and WPI (11-2-3 / 3-0-3) for the conference’s top spot. While the Beavers’ Strength of Schedule measurement of .568 isn’t as strong as previous seasons when they have routinely been above .600, Babson has still tested itself against regional foes like Brandeis (7-5-2 / 2-1-1), Tufts (12-0-2 / 7-0-2), and Williams (8-4-2 / 4-3-2), beating the Judges at home while losing on the road against both NESCAC sides. Most recently, the Beavers rallied from a halftime deficit to win 2-1 at Clark (10-4-2 / 2-3-1), who had the wind in its sails after tying non-conference foe Brandeis on the road. In addition to a non-conference game against Bridgewater State (9-6-0 / 4-2-0) on Tuesday, Babson has one more conference test this weekend, at home against Coast Guard (5-8-3 / 1-4-1). The Beavers' steely defense has been the backbone of their success, as Babson has conceded just 9 goals in 15 games for a goals-against average of 0.57. Offensively, senior midfielder Noah Parker is the Beavers’ clear leader with six goals and five assists and is among the best central midfielders in New England. The rest of the NEWMAC will have to keep him quiet if they hope to keep Babson from winning the conference crown, which seems like a significant possibility given the Beavers’ strong campaign up to this point.

The lone perfect team in New England is St. Joseph's (Maine) (16-0-0 / 11-0-0), who sits comfortably atop the GNAC. The Monks have taken care of business against both basement-dwellers and formidable regional foes like Bowdoin (9-3-2 / 5-2-2), Endicott (9-5-2 6-0-2), and Gordon (8-6-1 / 4-2-1), conceding just one goal while scoring 72, 13 of which came Saturday in a 13-0 home win over Lasell (4-11-2 / 3-6-2). Senior Brett Mattos leads the way offensively for the Monks with 11 goals and 4 assists, while the team has 12 players who have scored one or more goals. Defensively, a pair of 2017 D3soccer.com All-Americans — goalkeeper Blake Mullen (Second Team) and defender Dalton Gaumer (Third Team) — have led the Monks to another stellar year (even if they have conceded one more goal than they did during last year’s regular season). Assuming the Monks make it through the GNAC tournament unscathed, St. Joseph’s will look to take the next step in the NCAA tournament — it has made it to the Second Round the last two years in a row — by making it to the second weekend. This is a battle-tested, veteran-heavy team, and you wouldn’t bet against them writing their own history.

The CCC playoffs are just around the corner, and the same four teams that have been in the hunt haven’t changed. Endicott lost a tough one at home to UAA team Rochester (11-1-1 / 2-1-1), who went to the Elite 8 last year, on Saturday afternoon, but the Gulls remain top of the CCC (9-5-2 / 6-0-2). Second-placed Salve Regina meanwhile, was held at home by third-placed Gordon (8-6-1 / 4-2-1), 1-1, as the visiting Fighting Scots got a late equalizer after the Seahawks had held the lead for most of the match. Roger Williams (14-3-0 / 4-3-0), meanwhile, was consigned to a 1-0 home loss to Wentworth (6-10-1 / 2-5-0) on Saturday. With the top seed and wins over two of the other three teams immediately behind, Endicott will be the favorites, but it’s worth noting that Salve Regina (14-0-3 / 5-0-2), hasn’t yet lost this year. The NEWMAC and NESCAC tournaments will no doubt be great watches, but the CCC will give both conferences a run for their money for the most compelling conference tournament in New England this year. Stay tuned.

There appears to be virtually no separation in the race for the NAC regular season crown. Thomas sits atop the standings (12-3-1 / 5-1-1), but level on points is fellow Maine foe Husson (7-8-2 / 5-1-1), albeit Thomas has a game in hand. Despite Thomas’ vastly superior non-conference record — the Terriers’ only defeats are one-goal losses to the trio of Maine NESCAC schools, Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby — Husson managed a 0-0 draw in Waterville on Oct. 13th. All that in mind, Thomas would appear to be the favorite for the regular season crown, but it appears that the road to the conference crown will go through Bangor.

Upcoming Game of the Week: Bowdoin vs. Tufts

Action is a bit light this week across New England, as many teams are starting to gear up for potential playoff runs. However, this fixture — which has traditionally been played just before the NESCAC tournament starts — remains one to be watched and will take center stage as the early kickoff in Tuesday’s slate of NESCAC fixtures.

For all of Tufts’ success on the national stage, it appears that Bowdoin has the Jumbos’ number. Tufts has not beaten Bowdoin since the regular season in 2013, a 1-0 home decision thanks to a Maxime Hopppenot goal with less than 10 minutes remaining. Four days later, the Polar Bears registered a PK triumph in the NESCAC quarterfinals, also at Tufts, after a 2-2 draw. The following year, Tufts led at Bowdoin 2-0 in the second half, and — while the Jumbos would go on to win the national title — they were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw in Brunswick; Bowdoin, meanwhile, went on an improbable run of its own to its first NESCAC title. 2015 saw the teams settle for a dour 0-0 regular season draw in the Medford rain; three days later, Bowdoin again traveled to Tufts for a NESCAC quarterfinal, winning 1-0 on the final game of the series played on Kraft Field. In 2016, the Jumbos won their second national title in three years but were made to sweat the Selection Show after Bowdoin consigned Tufts to two 2-1 defeats — one in the regular season (away), the other in the NESCAC quarterfinals (home) — in four days. In last year’s final regular season encounter, Tufts had the majority of the possession and chances, but Bowdoin almost won it in overtime when the ball came off a Tufts’ defender head and hit the underside of the bar; only an excellent save from goalkeeper Bruce Johnson on the rebound saved the Jumbos from defeat (and ensured that home-field advantage for the NESCAC tournament remained intact).

All told, there have been three Bowdoin wins and four draws (including the aforementioned PK triumph) since the last time Tufts beat Bowdoin. The Jumbos are in imperious form, sitting at (12-0-2 / 7-0-2) thus far this season, with the most recent victory being a 3-1 win over Williams from this weekend, and would lock up the top seed for the conference tournament with a draw in Brunswick. Bowdoin, meanwhile, downed previously-undefeated Conn. College (11-1-2 / 6-1-2), a potentially huge win for the Polar Bears in terms of the New England Regional Rankings, so this week’s hosts will certainly not lie down for the Jumbos.

Will Bowdoin keep its impressive streak going? Or will Tufts turn the tables? Time will tell. Regardless of score — history suggests this will be a low-scoring or scoreless match — it should be a fitting finale to the regular season.


Comments or feedback for the author? E-mail Henry Loughlin



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]

Questions or comments?

»  E-mail Henry Loughlin
Previous