September 12, 2017

Nor'easter News - Week 2

By Henry Loughlin

Recap of the Week

The first full week of the season has barely passed and we have already seen a number of exciting tests throughout the New England region. In the 65th edition of one of New England’s premier rivalries, Brandeis claimed a 2-1 win against Babson, who also fell to Tufts in overtime after starting the season with wins over St. Lawrence and Clarkson. Following Labor Day, the NESCAC began competitive play, and featured some intriguing early-season battles, including Middlebury vs. Connecticut College and Amherst vs. Bowdoin. In the CCC, Roger Williams has jumped out to a 3-0-1 start under third-year head coach James Greenslit, but will face a pair of difficult tests this upcoming week against MIT and Gordon. The NEWMAC is also wide open, as 2016 conference champion Springfield—who has jumped out to a 4-0 start—is trailed closely by a number of contenders who will be looking to dethrone the Pride.

Impressions

Tufts started its defense of the NCAA Division III title with two home overtime wins over Babson and Colby this past week, before thumping Plymouth State on the road, 4-0. On Wednesday against Babson, the Jumbos knocked on the door throughout the whole game, but were stymied by Beavers goalkeeper James Takami, whose seven saves throughout regulation kept his team in the game. After a scoreless 90 minutes, the hosts’ persistence eventually paid off, as Gavin Tasker put the ball home 39 seconds into the first overtime to give Tufts a deserved victory in which it outshot Babson 15-2. The encounter with the Mules on Saturday was perhaps a bit more tense, as Colby started the stronger of the two sides, before the Jumbos grew into the match, started to turn the screw, and earned the victory on a penalty kick in overtime from Conor Coleman. A day later, the Jumbos traveled to Plymouth, NH, to face the Panthers, where they received goals from four different players en route to a win which improved their record to 3-0. It’s still early days, and there will no doubt be tougher tests ahead for the Jumbos. However, with six goals scored and none conceded in the first three games, there is reason for optimism within the Tufts camp that the Jumbos once again have the tools to make a deep run this season.

Elsewhere in the NESCAC, Connecticut College earned a momentous road victory over Middlebury. This was a seismic scalp for the Camels, who graduated 1st Team All-American Pat Devlin, because it was the first time that Conn. College had beaten the Panthers since 1992. Middlebury has no time to dwell on the defeat, as Saturday will see the Panthers face a tough test at defending NESCAC Champion Amherst, who defeated Bowdoin 1-0 in its first complete game (the Mammoths had their first game against Eastern Nazarene called in the second half due to lightning). Connecticut College, meanwhile, will travel to Tufts for a game that is sure to entertain.

Brandeis earned a 2-1 win over Babson in its home opener on Saturday night. This was the latest installment of one of the most venerable rivalries in Division III men’s soccer, and this chapter didn’t disappoint. Brandeis’ Devan Casey gave the Judges a 1-0 lead in the first half with his first career goal, cashing in on a Beavers turnover in their own half. And while Brandeis dominated proceedings in the second half, Babson grabbed an 83rd-minute equalizer against the run of play off a corner kick, as Chris Czarnecki headed the ball home. The Judges were not to be deterred, however, as—after Babson had a man sent off—Josh Ocel’s free kick 46 seconds later gave Brandeis an advantage it wouldn’t relinquish. The final 15 seconds were scarier than the Judges would have wanted, as Youcef Ziad hit the crossbar with 13 seconds left and Noah Parker saw a shot deflected wide with five seconds remaining, but Brandeis held on for the win, which was sweet revenge after falling to the Beavers in double-overtime last year. The Judges, who advanced to the NCAA Final Four last year for the first time in 32 years, improved to 2-1 after a loss and a win against Cortland State and Hobart, respectively. Meanwhile, Babson dropped to 2-2 following victories over St. Lawrence and Clarkson and a defeat to Tufts.

Endicott has been a program on the rise the past few years. After losing in the CCC final in 2015 to Gordon, the Gulls once again qualified for the conference tournament in 2016, this time falling to Western New England in the semifinals on penalty kicks. This year, the Gulls will be looking to claim their first-ever CCC title, and it would appear that Endicott has the tools to accomplish that feat, going 2-0-1 at home against a trio of solid opponents. Two days after a 0-0 draw with MIT to start the season on Sept. 1st, Endicott defeated 2016 NJAC Champion and NCAA participant Montclair State, getting an 83rd minute winner from Dario Neukom. Thursday night, the Gulls welcomed Thomas, the GNAC’s 2015 Champion and 2016 Runner-Up. And, while the visiting Terriers boast a number of dangerous attacking options including junior duo Adam LaBrie and DJ Nicholas, Endicott received strong efforts at both ends of the field en route to a dominant 4-0 win. Roger Williams has jumped out to an early lead in the CCC regular season standings, and other strong programs like Gordon, Wentworth, and Western New England will no doubt make things interesting, but Endicott has as good of a chance as any at CCC glory.

Defending NEWMAC Champion Springfield has quietly jumped out to a 4-0 start with wins over Gordon and Stevens. Last year, the Pride enjoyed an 16-1-1 regular season before defeating Clark and Wheaton (Mass.) en route to the conference title. In the NCAA 1st Round, Springfield bowed out to eventual champion Tufts, bringing down the curtain on a season to remember. The Pride graduated record goalscorer Luke Alvaro, who notched 18 tallies in his final season, so the squad will need to fill the scoring void left by him. The NEWMAC will be as competitive as ever: Babson, the favorite in the preseason coaches’ poll, will be in the hunt; Wheaton, led by interim head coach Mike Coven, is starting to find its feet after the sudden passing of legendary coach Matt Cushing; and Clark, who went 14-5 last year, returns a significant amount of talent. Even so, nobody will count the Pride out.

Upcoming Game of the Week: Amherst vs. Middlebury

Last year, Middlebury was one of just three teams to hand Amherst a blemish, as the two sides battled to a 1-1 draw in Vermont. This year, the Panthers will travel to Massachusetts to face the Mammoths, who won last year’s conference crown and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. Perhaps what makes this clash so intriguing is that, while both are traditionally talented programs, we don’t yet have a good read on either team’s make-up this season. Both Amherst and Middlebury were hit hard by graduation: Amherst said goodbye to a number of significant contributors including Cameron Bean, Bryce Ciambella, Chris Martin, and Andrew Orozco, while the Panthers lost attacking duo Greg Conrad and Adam Glaser as well as goalkeeper Greg Sydor. Though this match isn’t likely to feature as many goals as clashes between these two teams in years past, it will no doubt be a good litmus test for both sides.

 


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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 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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