Nor'easter News - Week 11
Recap of the Week
Conference championship weekend is generally a good bet for high drama, upsets, and memorable goals, and this weekend certainly didn’t disappoint in any of those respects. Babson won arguably its most dramatic NEWMAC title in history, beating host WPI 1-0 on a bicycle kick with 3 seconds remaining in the second overtime. The CCC final saw top-seeded Salve Regina edge Endicott, 3-2, also in double overtime. And the NESCAC tournament produced a surprise in Middlebury’s upset of Amherst, the former of whom then lost the title game to Tufts, 2-1. Elsewhere in New England conference tournament action, Johnson and Wales beat St. Joseph’s (Maine) in the GNAC championship game; Keene State edged Eastern Conn. in the LEC final; Framingham State captured its first MASCAC title since 2011 with a 1-0 win over Salem State; and Thomas College captured the NAC championship, beating Maine Maritime 4-1 on the latter’s home field.
It wasn’t a final, but Middlebury pulled out one of the biggest results of the weekend when the Panthers knocked out No. 1 Amherst, 1-0 in the NESCAC semifinals. The teams battled to a 1-1 draw in Massachusetts during the regular season, but, this time, Ben Potter’s 16th minute goal was enough for the Panthers to bring the Mammoths out from the undefeated ranks. Middlebury, who racked up a high number of draws the season, including the aforementioned one against Amherst, saved its best for the biggest stage — despite being outshot and out-possessed by their previously undefeated hosts — and advanced to Sunday’s final. In the second semifinal between Tufts and Williams, it was another game that finished with that same scoreline, with Tufts advancing on a Zach Lane goal less than two minutes into overtime. Sunday’s pairing for the final, meanwhile, was a repeat of the 2017 title game. Again, Tufts triumphed via an 88th-minute winner, but this time the Jumbos had to overcome being pegged back: Max Jacobs opened the scoring for Tufts in the 58th minute, Max Drazen equalized for Middlebury with 11:03 remaining in regulation, and Joe Braun’s turn-and-shoot finish with 2:10 remaining gave the Jumbos their second NESCAC title in three years. Tufts has been remarkably successful nationally, winning titles in the last three even-numbered years, and while Amherst has gathered the most attention throughout the regular season, the Jumbos reminded us all with this NESCAC success that they are still well and truly in the hunt to win their fourth NCAA title (and first title in an odd-numbered year).
Babson kept up its penchant for winning the NEWMAC title on the road in the 2010s, triumphing 1-0 against WPI with 3 seconds left in double overtime. The Beavers’ two most recent conference championships (2014 and 2015) came on the road, and while it looked like the game would be heading for penalties, senior Alex Crompton had other ideas, acrobatically finishing a cross from classmate Youcef Ziad with just three ticks left on the clock before the shootout. The Beavers — who were unlucky to miss out on the NCAA tournament last year after losing the NEWMAC final to Springfield — are making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2016, and will hope to secure a first NCAA win since 2011, when they reached the Sweet 16. And with massive scalps of national and regional powers Tufts and Conn. College in October, among other solid regular-season results, this squad’s blend of youth and experience has the belief to do that.
Johnson and Wales finally broke the run of dominance that Saint Joseph’s (Maine) has had in the GNAC, winning its first conference title since 2015 over the Monks, 1-0 in double overtime. The Monks performed well during new head coach Will Pike’s first year, going 14-1-3 throughout the regular season, while the Wildcats went 15-2-1 during their regular season; the teams battled to a 0-0 tie in Providence on Oct. 26th. Despite being the second seed for the conference tournament, St. Joseph’s carried play on the day, racking up almost twice the number of shots as its opponent (22-12). However, it was the Wildcats who got the winning tally in the second extra session, extending their season into mid-November for the first time since 2015 (which ended with a 1-0 loss to Lycoming).
Salve Regina won its first CCC title since 2012, beating Endicott 3-2 in 2OT in the final. The Seahawks, who were the No. 1 seed for their conference tournament, were seen by some as underdogs to a venerable Endicott side which has been in and around the top of the New England rankings the past few years, but Salve Regina did its seed justice in triumphing. Following a scoreless first half, the game came to life after the interval, with two second-half Endicott goals being canceled out by the hosts, and regulation ended with the score 2-2. It would stay that way until the second overtime, when, in an attempt to clear the ball, an Endicott defender headed it past his own keeper, resulting in the hard-luck ending for the Gulls. The Seahawks, however, await their opponent in their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2012, when they lost 2-1 in the 1st Round to Montclair State. Having overcome a solid Endicott side, though, Salve Regina will know it has the potential to make it out of the first day of play.
Comments or feedback for the author? E-mail Henry Loughlin