HADLEY, Mass. – Top-seeded Amherst will continue its pursuit of back-to-back-to-back conference crowns this weekend when it hosts the 2013 NESCAC Men's Soccer Championship at Hitchcock Field. Semifinal action gets underway when second-seeded Wesleyan and third-seeded Williams take to the pitch on Saturday at 11 a.m. The host Lord Jeffs square off against fifth-seeded Bowdoin at 1:30 p.m. Advancing teams will meet for the NESCAC championship on Sunday at noon with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake.
Amherst (13-0-2, 8-0-2 NESCAC) extended its unbeaten streak to 35 games when it handed eighth-seeded Hamilton a 4-1 setback in the quarterfinal round. After a scoreless first half, sophomore forward Greg Singer (San Jose, Calif.) put the Lord Jeffs on the scoreboard in the 48th minute. First-year forward Christopher Martin (Philadelphia, Pa.) tacked on two more goals minutes later to open up a three-goal lead, which was more than enough for the home team. With the victory, the Lord Jeffs also avenged a 1-1 double-overtime draw during the regular season meeting.
Martin has provided an instant spark for the Amherst offense, recording a team-high seven goals and four assists for 18 points. Singer has added six goals on the season, while junior Bubba Van Wie (New Gloucester, Maine) and sophomore Nico Pascual-Leone (Wayland, Mass.) have contributed 13 and 12 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the Lord Jeff defense and sophomore goalkeeper Thomas Bull (Montgomery, N.J.) have allowed a paltry seven goals. Bull leads the NESCAC with a 0.46 goals against average. Their last loss came to Stevens in the sectional semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Tournament (11/19/11).
If Amherst aims to win its fourth overall league title, it must first defeat fifth-seeded Bowdoin (8-3-4, 5-3-2 NESCAC). The Polar Bears punched a ticket to the semifinals for the first time since 2009 in a dramatic 2-2 double-overtime draw versus Tufts before advancing on penalty kicks, 3-1. Bowdoin first-year forward Cedric Charlier (Baltimore, Md.) netted his fourth goal of the season in the 71st minute to break open a scoreless game. Less than ten minutes later, rookie Matt Dias Costa (Natick, Mass.) doubled the margin. The Jumbos scored a goal in the 87th minute and tied the contest with 37 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime, though. Following two scoreless overtime periods, the advancing team was decided on penalty kicks, as Bowdoin came out on top, 3-1.
The Polar Bears have had 13 different scorers this season with senior midfielder Zach Danssaert (Solana Beach, Calif.) leading the offensive production with 17 points on five goals and seven assists. Bowdoin has had two keepers split time between the posts, as senior Will Wise (Cohasset, Mass.) and first-year Noah Safian (Woodbridge, Conn.) have registered goals against averages below 1.00. Since opening this year's campaign 1-2-2, Bowdoin has gone 7-1-2.
Amherst turned in a 3-0 win versus the Polar Bears early in the season on September 14. The post-season series is even at 2-2 with the most recent meeting taking place in the 2007 semifinal, where the top-seeded Lord Jeffs defeated fifth-seeded Bowdoin, 2-1.
Saturday's other semifinal pairs second-seeded Wesleyan (9-5-1, 7-3-0 NESCAC) against third-seeded Williams (10-5-0, 6-4-0).
The Cardinals earned their fourth semifinal appearance in five years when sophomore midfielder Max Jones (Chicago, Ill.) found the back of the net in the 71st minute to give Wesleyan a 1-0 victory against seventh-seeded Connecticut College. Tight, low-scoring affairs have become a trademark of the Cardinals, who have had ten of their last 12 games decided by one goal and have allowed only one goal since October 19. The Cardinal defense is anchored by juniors Ben Bratt (Winchester, Mass.) and goalkeeper Emmett O'Connell (Merion Station, Pa.), who leads the NESCAC with an .892 save percentage to go along with seven shutouts. No Cardinal player has scored more than three goals this season.
Williams benefited from two goals by sophomore Mohammed Rashid (Accra, Ghana) to post a 3-2 win over sixth-seeded Middlebury in the quarterfinal round to earn its 13th appearance in the NESCAC semifinals. Junior forward Matt Muralles (Weston, Fla.) leads the Eph offense with five goals and two assists for 12 points followed closely by senior forward Matt Kastner (Mendham, N.J.), who has compiled four goals and a pair of assists. In goal, Williams has relied almost exclusively on senior Peter Morrell (Brunswick, Maine). Morrell boasts an .829 save percentage and a 0.92 goals against average.
The Ephs won the regular season meeting against Wesleyan, 2-0, in mid-October. In the NESCAC Championship, Williams owns a slight 3-2 edge with the most recent pairing resulting in a 2-1 overtime Cardinal win in the 2010 quarterfinals. Wesleyan earned its lone NESCAC title in 2005 with a 3-2 victory over the Lord Jeffs, while Williams owns a conference-best six crowns.
Results for the NESCAC Men's Soccer Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.
|Quarterfinals - Saturday, November 2|
|Semifinals - Saturday, November 9|
|hosted by Amherst
#2 Wesleyan vs. #3 Williams - 11 a.m.
#5 Bowdoin at #1 Amherst - 1:30 p.m.
|Championship - Sunday, November 10|
|hosted by Amherst
Semifinal Winners - Noon