Men's Sectional Previews: Northeast
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at St. Lawrence (Canton, NY)
Saturday/Sunday, Nov. 19-20
Third Round - Saturday, Nov. 19
Quarterfinals - Sunday, Nov. 20
Sectional Final, 1:00 pm ET
How they reached the Sweet 16
St. Lawrence: Pool C at-large berth | 1st Rnd: W4-0 SUNY-Maritime | 2nd Rnd: W3-2(ot) WNEC
Oneonta St.: SUNYAC Automatic Berth (AQ) | 1st Rnd: W2-1 Baldwin-Wallace | 2nd Rnd: W4-0 PSU-Behrend
Babson: Pool C at-large berth | 1st Rnd: W5-1 Lesley | 2nd Rnd: T1-1(2ot,pk's) Trinity (Conn.)
Rutgers-Camden: NJAC Automatic Berth (AQ) | 1st Rnd: W4-2 Merchant Marine | 2nd Rnd: W2-1 Wesleyan
2011 Statistical Overview
St. Lawrence: 18-0-1 (.974) | 2.37 GSA, 0.31 GAA (+2.06) | Avg. OWP: .582 | Last Ten: 9-0-1
Oneonta St.: 16-2-2 (.850) | 2.48 GSA, 0.80 GAA (+1.69) | Avg. OWP: .556 | Last Ten: 10-0-0
Babson: 16-2-4 (.818) | 1.97 GSA, 0.77 GAA (+1.20) | Avg. OWP: .569 | Last Ten: 7-0-3
Rutgers-Camden: 18-2-2 (.864) | 2.00 GSA, 0.67 GAA (+1.33) | Avg. OWP: .569 | Last Ten: 9-0-1
St. Lawrence Season Review
A little over a decade ago they were national champions and remained in the hunt for a second title through the mid-2000's. After gradually falling from national prominence from 2005 to 2009, 2010 saw the Saints re-emerge with a 17-3-2 season that ended in the second round of the NCAA tournament. With only one 2011 starter to be lost to graduation, the pieces seemed in place for a title run this year, the possibility of which took a hit when All-American forward injured his knee in the offseason and would not be able to play in 2011. Nevertheless, with nine starters returning representing two-thirds of their goals (29 of 44) and almost 80% of their assists (33 of 42) in 2010, the prospects were still very good, especially if a go-to goal scorer (or two) emerged to fill Gorman’s void and help All-American playmaker and leading scorer Sam DeMello. The defense was all set but two goals conceded to Oneonta St. and Geneseo St. the first two weekends of the campaign obscured how good the defensive unit could be. They won those games with three goals of their own and wouldn’t be scored on again in the regular season as they moved to the top of the charts with a 0.23 GAA and 15 shutouts heading into the NCAA tournament thanks to senior goalkeeper Brian Abernethy’s 0.900 save pct. Junior Brian Gilloran (7g, 7a) and DeMello (13g, 10a) paced the attack, but the loss of another forward to injury mid-season did their offense no favors and they “suffered” through four 1-0 wins in October before their first blemish of the season, a scoreless tie with Vassar in the Liberty League semifinal in which they were eliminated by penalty kick shootout. An at-large berth was nearly as automatic winning the conference championship and only a lack of hotel rooms prevented them from hosting a regional pod. In the second round WNEC broke their shutout streak at 14 and scored a second goal late to force overtime before the Saints were able to finish them off and bring the tournament to Canton, NY for sectionals.
Oneonta St. Season Review
For unclear reasons Oneonta St. largely flew under the radar for most of the season despite playing both St. Lawrence (L2-3) and Christopher Newport (T1-1) tough in the early going and then being top of the SUNYAC from start to finish. The former Division I program began transitioning to Division III in 2006, started playing a SUNYAC schedule in 2007, and was eligible for post-season play in 2008. Competitive, they hadn’t yet won the conference championship, but they did claim the top seed in 2010 only to be eliminated by Plattsburgh state in the conference semifinals. It’s amazing they did that well in 2010 given their low 1.37 GSA making for a meager +0.48 avg. goal difference. With only two starters lost from 2010 the Red Dragons and a starting eleven made up entirely of juniors and seniors to open the new season, there was reason to expect to do even better in 2011. It certainly helped that 2009 leading scorer Eric Fortier returned to form after an injury marred 2010, again leading the team with 12 goals while junior forward Daniel Josepher continued to excel in the super-sub role with 11 goals off the bench. Senior midfielder and team leader Jonathan Kowalski didn’t have the pressure to score as in 2010 as team goal scoring ballooned to a 2.48 GSA and resulted in a much improved avg. goal difference (+1.69). They would take care of Plattsburgh with aplomb in 2011, winning 5-0 in the regular season and 4-2 in the SUNYAC semifinals en route to a 10-game winning streak, their first SUNYAC championship, and a first-ever appearance in the Division III tournament. Two more wins, 2-1 over Baldwin-Wallace and 4-0 over PSU-Behrend, in the tournament has them in the Sweet 16.
Babson Season Review
Babson, who went 16-4-2 in 2010 and reached the Sweet 16 after “upsetting” Williams, only lost one starter to graduation meaning the prospects for 2011 were bright with a deep, talented, and experienced squad. NEWMAC Player of the Year and coach’s son Eric Anderson was back for his junior year to continue his assault on the team scoring records along with his primary provider, senior midfielder and captain Max Walker. Defensively, four-year starters Clint Mason and Peter Crowley line-up again on the backline and in goal. But the season got off on the wrong foot with a 3-2 loss to Roger Williams and the Beavers found themselves 0-2 after an overtime loss to Hobart. No worries though, as they would respond with four straight shutouts as they set off on an unbeaten run that still hasn’t come to an end and stands at 20 games, the longest active streak as it exceeds St. Lawrence’s 19-game unbeaten season. The streak would include a re-match with Williams which they won 1-0. Unfortunately, Anderson (15g, 5a) hasn’t gotten enough help with the goal scoring, and 13 of their games have been decided by one goal or less, eight having gone to overtime. It cost them the NEWMAC automatic berth when they lost on penalty kicks and needed an at-large berth to keep playing. Penalty kicks also decided their fate in the tournament’s second round, this time coming out on the winning side for a spot in the Sweet 16 as they booted a NESCAC team (Trinity-CT) from the dance at this stage for the second straight year. But just to get to PK’s they needed the an Eric Anderson goal 2:10 from time to force overtime and with the second lowest avg. goal difference in the Sweet 16, they might only go as far as his heroics can carry them.
Rutgers-Camden Season Review
Rutgers-Camden finally won the NJAC in 2011. They had come close other years, and then the past two seasons just missed out on the conference tournament, casting doubts on which direction the program was heading. But Coach Tim Oswald believed his teams were better than that as evidenced by the results they were getting against regionally and nationally ranked teams in one of the tougher annual non-conference schedules. However, conference titles and tournament berths are the goal, not moral victories and the first step of making a return to the NJAC playoffs didn’t seem such a sure thing with the loss of six or seven starters including their best player, national assist leader Shane McGrory. The conference’s best keeper Tim VanLiew was back as well as the team’s leading scorer, sophomore Mitch Grotti, but there were more question marks than answers heading into the season. Results were mixed in non-conference play as they played Swarthmore even only to lose 2-1, outplayed Eastern only to lose 0-1, but escaped with a 3-2 overtime win against Catholic despite being outplayed. The same incongruence between score and how they played would exist in many of their conference matches, making it hard to summarize their season or gauge how good this team is. They beat Rowan 3-0 which doesn’t reflect how close the game really was. In the showdown with Montclair St. they emerged as 3-1 winners when a tie would have been a fair result. And they stole a win at William Paterson when they easily cold have, and maybe should have, lost. They were outshot 21-9 (9-6 SOG) but beat Kean 3-1. That’s not to say they never deserved to win, but this Scarlet Raptor squad has a knack for winning even when not playing their best and/or not outplaying their opponent. And that’s not a bad quality to have, especially if it brings you the conference regular season title with a couple games to spare. And it suggests a team that makes the most of their opportunities, led by Grotti with his hull of 17 goals and 8 game-winners. They earned a narrow 1-0 win over Rowan in the NJAC semifinals and in the final they nabbed a 1-0 victory over Montslair St. in a game that could have gone either way. They finally had the coveted conference championship and with it their second-ever tournament berth. Two deserved wins later, they are in the Sweet 16.
Seniors' 4-year Record (through Nov. 13)
St. Lawrence: 56-16-5 (.760) overall | NCAA's ('08-'10-'11): 4-2-0
Oneonta St.: 49-18-10 (.701) overall | NCAA's ('11): 2-0-0
Babson: 63-16-9 (.767) overall | NCAA's ('08-'09-'10-'11): 4-2-1, Sweet 16 - 2010, Final Four - 2008
Rutgers-Camden: 55-24-8 (.678) overall | NCAA's ('08-'11): 2-1-0, Sweet 16 - 2009, Runner-Up - 2008
Only a couple St. Lawrence seniors currently in the line-up played a role in their 2008 tournament games, so the squad’s NCAA experience is basically last year's win and a loss and the two wins that got them to this year’s Sweet 16. Only two Rutgers-Camden players were in the 2008 squad that went one-and-out, so they are effectively in the same boat as Oneonta St who is participating in their first-ever tournament. Babson went one-and-out in both 2008 and 2009 before last year’s run to the Sweet 16, giving their squad the most tournament experience in this sectional.
The St. Lawrence-Oneonta St. sectional semifinal is a re-match of their season opener which the Saints won 3-2. In that game, also played in Canton, NY, Oneonta opened the scoring in the first half with St. Lawrence equalizing within minutes. The Saints scored the next two goals in the second stanza before Oneonta pulled one back with 20 minutes to play. Interestingly, Oneonta St was supposed to host Babson early in the seaosn, but heavy rains and a stateof emergency in upstate New York forced its cancellation.
Why they will advance to the Final Four
St. Lawrence: By far the best defense in the sectional and having uncharacteristically conceded twice in their second round match don’t expect that to happen again, especially with them at home. They probably have the sectional’s best playmaker and perhaps the biggest game changer in Sam DeMello.
Oneonta St.: They have the highest scoring attack in the sectional. Also they start more juniors and seniors than the other teams, and that extra maturity and desire to go out on top could give them a little edge.
Babson: This team knows how to play in and win close games; it’s something they have done all season. And in Eric Anderson they have a game changer.
Rutgers-Camden: This team just finds was to win and doesn’t have to be the better team or have more shots or possession to do so. They have made the most of their opportunities all season long.
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Comments or feedback for the author? Email Christan Shirk.