November 4, 2019

Nor'easter News - Week 10

By Henry Loughlin

Recap of the Week

The NESCAC quarterfinals were this past weekend, with three of the four higher seeds prevailing. There’s a significant chance that the top two seeds — who also may well be the top two teams in the country — will meet in the final, but, first, the small matter of semifinals to come on Saturday. The NEWMAC, meanwhile, will play its lone “quarterfinal” on Tuesday between Clark and MIT, with the winner facing top seed WPI on Saturday in the semifinals. There's been a slight change of pace in the GNAC, where Johnson and Wales secured the top seed ahead of St. Joseph’s (Maine) for the first time in a while — both teams advanced from their quarterfinals this weekend (although the former had to go to penalty kicks to do so). And the CCC appears to be the home of an exciting conclusion, with quarterfinal action complete and semifinal pairings set.

Impressions

As most would have predicted, the top two seeds in the NESCAC took care of business at home in the conference quarterfinals. Top-seeded Amherst saw off Wesleyan, 2-0, while second-seeded Tufts downed Hamilton, 3-0. With so much attention being put on German Giamattei, it frees up space for other Amherst players, and Dane Lind was the beneficiary of that on Saturday, scoring once in each half to result in an expected Mammoths win. Tufts, meanwhile, led 1-0 the majority of the game through Derek Enge’s first-half goal, before Brett Rojas’ two goals in 64 seconds added some gloss, resulting in the 3-0 scoreline. As the top two seeds in their conference tournament, these two teams wouldn’t meet until the final, but that would appear to be the expected pairing based on current form; Amherst (14-0-2) has continued to roll through its schedule, winning the head-to-head battle 2-1 in overtime on Oct. 12, while Tufts (12-2-2) has fared well on its own accord and appears to have recovered fully from their midseason “blip” (a 1-2-2 run between Oct. 2 and 13). And while both teams would be Pool C locks for the NCAA Tournament if knocked out, they’ve got conference bragging rights to sort out in the meantime: Amherst hasn’t forgotten its 3-0 thumping at the home of Tufts in last year’s Sweet 16, while the Jumbos have a point to prove in their conference tournament having won two more NCAA titles (3) than NESCAC titles (1).

Elsewhere in the NESCAC quarterfinals, Middlebury downed Conn. College on penalty kicks after a 0-0 tie. The Panthers, who edged the teams’ regular season game in overtime, were outshot 24-4 on the day, but prevailed in six rounds of penalty kicks to set up a semifinal date with Amherst; Middlebury is one of the two teams to prevent the Mammoths from winning. Williams, meanwhile, kept its season going with a commanding 3-0 win over Bates, with two late goals from Demian Gass and Nathan Song building on a first-half Bobby Fabricant strike. The visiting Bobcats, which had fallen 1-0 in double overtime at the home of Williams two weeks prior, would have hoped for a different outcome, but there is still plenty for Bates to take from this season: nine wins, securing the fifth seed in the NESCAC tournament, and some promising performances from first-year striker Jacob Iwowo, among others. Williams, meanwhile, advances to a semifinal date with Tufts, and while the Jumbos are undoubted favorites in that game, the Ephs — who ran Tufts close in a 3-2 defeat earlier this year — will know that anything is possible in a one-and-done scenario.

There appears to be little separation between the teams in the CCC, with Salve Regina securing the top seed over Endicott. The second-seeded Gulls, meanwhile, rolled over local rival (and seventh-seeded) Gordon, 4-0. Third-seeded Wentworth saw off sixth-seeded Roger Williams, 2-1. And in the 4/5 seed matchup, it was fifth-seeded Nichols beating fourth-seeded Western New England in a high-scoring (3-2) affair. Salve, which will host the semifinal and final rounds this weekend, will battle Nichols in its semifinal, while the other semifinal features Endicott and Wentworth.

WPI and Babson are the top two seeds for the NEWMAC Tournament (with 5-0-2 conference records), which doesn’t start in earnest until this weekend. Both teams took care of business on the road on Saturday, with the Engineers winning 2-1 at Clark, while Babson downed Coast Guard 4-1 in New London. The two teams battled to a 0-0 tie at the home of the Beavers in September, and while Babson has picked up a couple of big wins over Tufts and Conn. College in the interim, the Engineers haven’t performed badly, either, going 7-1-1 during that stretch. Interesting tidbits: as mentioned previously, Babson has won the NEWMAC twice since 2010 (2014 and 2015) with both titles coming on the road; WPI, meanwhile, won its conference crown at Springfield in 2016. First, though, semifinals to play on Saturday.

Since Johnson and Wales last won the GNAC crown in 2015, there has been another dominant force that has emerged in the conference: St. Joseph’s (Maine). The Monks, who edged the Wildcats 1-0 in last season’s conference final, endured a coaching change during the 2018 offseason, and while they’ve fared well in Coach Will Pike’s first year at the helm, it’s been JWU that has led the conference pack this season: Johnson and Wales’ 10-0-1 record is one result better than St. Joseph’s 9-0-2. The teams tied 0-0 in Rhode Island on Oct. 26, and while third-seeded Norwich — which lost to St. Joseph’s in the 2016 and 2017 conference finals — will look to crash the party, it’d be little surprise to see the top two seeds doing battle in this weekend’s conference final.

Upcoming Game of the Week

 


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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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