Nor'easter News - Week 9
Recap of the Week
For many teams, this is the last week of the regular season. Whether it’s jostling for home field advantage or fighting to secure one of the last coveted conference tournament spots, the stakes are definitely high. Amherst all but wrapped up hosting rights for the NESCAC tournament with yet another victory, this time 2-1 at Bates. The Mammoths have looked to be conference tournament favorites in the past few weeks, but their main competitor — Tufts — rediscovered its mojo, winning in overtime against yet another regional contender in Middlebury, 2-1. In the NEWMAC, Babson has shown its strength in mentality, digging deep to beat Clark at home after giving up two previous leads and two goals; the Beavers sit near WPI at the top of the conference with identical 5-0-2 records to date. The CCC, meanwhile, has two competitors at the front in Salve Regina and Wentworth, with Endicott the favorite of some others. And Brandeis has somewhat-quietly flown under the radar this year but has put together a solid campaign to date and will look to finish strong in the UAA.
Amherst did as Amherst does in grinding out yet another NESCAC victory, traveling to Maine for the second weekend running. The Mammoths (12-0-2 overall, 7-0-2 in conference), who are a perfect 6-0-0 away from home, took the lead in the early stages, with Bryce Johnson and Ignacio Cubeddu scoring in the first half before Will Anastos made things interesting in the second half, pulling one back for Bates. Amherst rode out the pressure, though, and closed out the win. The Mammoths will close their NESCAC regular season campaign on Wednesday at Trinity (Conn.). They have come up with the goods with regularity that none of their competitors have been able to match, to date, and, as a result, are favorites for good reason. Tufts took Amherst all the way and was unlucky to lose 2-1 in such dramatic fashion on Oct. 12, and Middlebury and Conn. College have both taken points off of the Mammoths, but those sides recognize the dangers posed by Amherst and NESCAC Player of the Year favorite German Giammattei.
Babson came through a big test on Saturday, defeating former NEWMAC leaders Clark at home, 3-2. The Beavers, who along with WPI have 4-0-2 NEWMAC records, lost at Eastern Conn. on Wednesday, 2-0, bringing the end to a four-game winning streak that included scalps of defending NCAA Champion Tufts and NESCAC contender Conn. College. Saturday, they were forced to dig deep, being pegged back by two Clark equalizers, but found a way in the end. Babson’s resolve has been evident on multiple occasions this year — against Conn., they rallied in the last 10:01 on Oct. 15th, and have notched a number of other cliffhanger victories — and their mental fortitude will be important to ensure that they remain in the hunt.
After being somewhat of a slow burner, the CCC is getting more and more interesting, with Salve Regina and Wentworth leading the pack. In this case, both teams have five wins (and records of 5-0-2 and 5-2-0, respectively). Right behind at 4-1-2 is Endicott, the side that many would point to as perhaps the most talented team in the conference. Led by Evan Couchot, who leads the CCC in points (39) and has to be the favorite for the conference player of the year award. And while the Gulls stumbled on the road to Rochester this weekend, 1-0, that scoreline shows their current group of players can run with a team that was in the Final 4 last year (worth noting that Endicott picked up a win over Tufts during the Jumbos’ 2016 championship season). With six of nine teams above .500, the CCC has shown well throughout the region this year, and while it’s likely to only have one representative in the NCAA Tournament, whoever that team is will be battle-tested — and maybe enough to spring a surprise or two.
Last season, Brandeis went 7-9-2 — a far cry from the 2012 to 2017 seasons, when the Judges emerged as a contender both regionally and nationally. This year’s team has rebounded well — even if it has flown somewhat under the radar — sitting at 9-3-4, with all three losses coming to national powers Washington & Lee, Tufts, and Chicago. And while Wednesday night’s 2-0 victory against Springfield was routine on the surface, it was another win in the bag for a team that closes with three massive conference games: away to Emory and Rochester and at home against NYU. These three fixtures (and venues) yielded three wins in the 2015 season, and that year’s victory against Rochester was the result that clinched Brandeis its first outright UAA title. Regardless of record, Emory is always a tough out, and Rochester — another plucky, energetic side — is starting to rediscover its mojo after a mid-season blip. Moreover, NYU seems to be Chicago’s closest conference competitor to date, so that will not be an easy game, either. That said, this side will feel confident of finishing the regular season strong.
Since drawing 1-1 at Amherst on Oct. 13, Tufts has rebounded well with NESCAC victories over regional contenders Conn. (2-0) and Middlebury (2-1) — the latter of which came on Saturday in overtime. Tufts, which also had to rally to secure a 1-1 draw against Middlebury last year, went 1-0 down in the 63rd minute, as the Panthers’ Drew Goulart scored, before Gavin Tasker equalized with less than 10 minutes on the clock. Overtime saw Joe Braun strike to make the difference and give the Jumbos a massive conference victory. They’ll almost surely be the second seed for the NESCAC Tournament, but — after a stretch of indifferent form — are showing that they are the defending National Champions for a reason. Amherst has garnered the plaudits thus far, and rightly so, but Tufts will have a say both in the NESCAC and nationally, when all is said and done. Most pressing, though, is a home contest against Bowdoin — Tufts’ bogey team even through its 2014 and 2016 successes — tomorrow night. Having beaten the Polar Bears the last time out, on the road no less, the Jumbos will be confident of another three points — and perhaps more success yet to come.
Comments or feedback for the author? E-mail Henry Loughlin