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Men's Sectional Previews: New England

Other Sectional Previews:  NORTHEAST | MIDWEST  | EAST

By Ryan Harmanis

NEW ENGLAND SECTIONAL

Amherst (Amherst, MA)

Sectional Webpage

Saturday/Sunday, Nov. 23-24

Third Round - Saturday, Nov. 23

Brandeis (16-4-1) vs. Williams (13-6-0), 5:00 pm CT

St. Lawrence (17-2-2) at Amherst (17-0-2), 7:30 pm CT

Quarterfinals - Sunday, Nov. 24

Sectional Final, 5:00 pm CT

How they reached the Sweet 16

Brandeis: Pool C at-large berth | 1st Rnd: W3-0 Johnson & Wales (H) | 2nd Rnd: W1-0 Roger Williams (H)

Williams: Pool C at-large berth | 1st Rnd: W4-0 Elms (H) | 2nd Rnd: W4-1 WNEC (H)

St. Lawrence: Liberty Automatic Berth (AQ) | 1st Rnd: W5-1 Thomas (H) | 2nd Rnd: W8-0 Wheaton (Mass) (H)

Amherst: NESCAC Automatic Berth (AQ) | 1st Rnd: W3-0 Bridgewater (H) | 2nd Rnd: W5-0 Gordon (H)

2013 Statistical Overview

Brandeis: 16-4-1 (.786) | 2.49 GSA, 0.89 GAA (+1.60) | Avg. D-III OWP: .585 | Last Ten: 6-3-1

Williams: 13-6-0 (.684) | 1.66 GSA, 0.93 GAA (+0.73) | Avg. D-III OWP: .598 | Last Ten: 6-4-0

St. Lawrence: 17-2-2 (.857) | 2.08 GSA, 0.37 GAA (+1.71) | Avg. D-III OWP: .583 | Last Ten: 9-1-0

Amherst: 17-0-2 (.947) | 2.38 GSA, 0.40 GAA (+1.98) | Avg. D-III OWP: .569 | Last Ten: 10-0-0

Brandeis Season Review

Brandeis began the season red-hot, posting seven straight wins that included a victory over tournament team MIT. After rising as high as sixth in the D3soccer.com rankings, the Judges received a rude awakening from Tufts in a 2-0 loss where Brandeis was (statistically, at least) thoroughly outplayed. Brandeis recovered to enter the UAA slate at 9-1, but the brutal nature of the conference took its toll. Perhaps as a testament to its difficult, Brandeis finished fifth in the UAA after losing to the top three teams (#10 Rochester, #11 Carnegie Mellon and Emory) in a nine-day stretch.

However, Brandeis peaked at the right time, posting four straight shutouts to end the season and continuing that defensive dominance by blanking Johnson and Wales (3-0) and Roger Williams (1-0) to open the NCAA tournament. This was a welcome tightening in the back, as the Judges had allowed 19 goals in their first 15 games. Brandeis boasts a relatively balanced attack led by junior Tyler Savonen (12g, 4a) and strongly supported out of the back by senior Ben Applefield (2g, 10a)

Williams Season Review

Williams entered 2013 in a strange position, returning seven starters from a Final Four team but also graduating three All-Americans. This suggested a wealth of talent but also a transition period as underclassmen moved from role players to impact players and team leaders. The result was consistent inconsistency, as the Ephs finished third in the NESCAC. Normally that’s high praise and an NCAA bid, but the NESCAC was down and Williams entered the conference tournament at 9-5 with work left to do. Impressive wins over Middlebury and on the road at Wesleyan sealed passage into the tournament despite a second 1-0 loss to Amherst in the final.

Despite its troubles getting there, Williams spent little time proving it belonged. The Ephs won emphatically over both Elms (4-0) and Western New England (4-1) and enter this weekend with one eye towards a third shot at Amherst. It seems as though leading scorer Matt Muralles (7g, 2a) is finding help at the right time, particularly from Jonathan Westling (5g, 1a) and Chris Conder. Coach Mike Russo struck gold by inserting the pair into the starting lineup, as three goals from Westling and four assists from Conder paced the Ephs’ attack last weekend.

St. Lawrence Season Review

St. Lawrence entered 2013 with high expectations but was humbled immediately in a 4-1 home loss to #4 Stevens. From there, it was a steady rise as the Saints went unbeaten in 13 games to climb as high as #14 in the d3soccer.com rankings. The team’s season-long offensive struggles finally caught up to it with a 1–0 loss to Skidmore, but once again St. Lawrence responded positively. The Saints have won six straight, including back-to-back demolition jobs of Thomas (5-1) and Wheaton (Mass.) 8-0 last weekend. Last Sunday was particularly impressive given the setting (NCAA second round) and the opponent (Wheaton had won 8 straight).

St. Lawrence has held opponents to eight goals all season, led by junior goalkeeper Aaron Costello. While the shutouts (16) speak to team defense, Costello himself has a stellar save percentage of .907 and was voted Defensive Player of the Year in the Liberty League. On the other side, four-year starter and senior captain Andrew Bednarsky (9g, 8a) leads the Saints' in-form attack into Saturday's marquee matchup. The unanimous Liberty League Player of the Year ramped up his offensive output this season with a silky first touch and calm finishing skills, best seen by this spectacular goal in the conference title game (seriously, check out the 1:05 mark).

Amherst Season Review

Amherst has been incredible over the last two seasons: a combined 34-0-5 record, only 11 goals against, two NESCAC regular season and tournament doubles and repeat trips to the Sweet 16. 2012 saw one of the most statistically dominant campaigns ever, as the team never trailed and allowed only three goals before falling in penalties in the Elite Eight. That experience (and disappointment) surely fueled this year’s success, as the Lord Jeffs were one of only three undefeated teams in parity-driven 2013.

Amherst tore through the NESCAC, finishing well clear of the pack in one of the top conferences in the country. The NCAA opening weekend proved no different, with comfortable wins over Bridgewater State (3-0) and Gordon (5-0). The defense, led by sophomore Thomas Bull in goal and defensive stalwarts Ben Norton and Gabriel Wirz, has only allowed eight goals. The offense had the difficult job of replacing 100-point man Spencer Noon, but has coped admirably with a balanced attack. Six different players have at least 10 points, led by Nico Pascual-Leone (6g, 9a), Christopher Martin (8g, 3a) and Greg Singer (7g, 4a).

Seniors' 4-year Record (through Nov. 17)

Brandeis: 61-19-4 (.750) overall | NCAA's ('12-'13): 4-1-0, Sweet 16 - '12-'13

Williams: 50-15-9 (.736) overall | NCAA's ('10-'12-'13): 6-2-1, Sweet 16 - '12-'13, Elite 8 - '12, Final Four - '12

St. Lawrence: 64-9-7 (.844) overall | NCAA's ('10-'11-'12-'13): 6-3-0, Sweet 16 - '11

Amherst: 63-4-11 (.878) overall | NCAA's ('10-'11-'12-'13): 8-2-1, Sweet 16 - '10-'11-'12-'13, Elite 8 - '12

Tournament Experience

These four teams bring a wealth of NCAA experience into the Sectional, including games against one another. Brandeis is making its second-straight Sweet 16 appearance, while St. Lawrence arrives for the second time in three seasons. Amherst (as noted above) is here for the fourth straight season, while Williams was in San Antonio just last year.

Clearly, these teams are no stranger to the NCAA tournament nor its latter stages. It's hard to find an edge for any single team, as they are a combined 24–8–2 in the last four seasons. St. Lawrence is perhaps the least experienced as they are the only team who missed out last year, but Amherst will surely be feeling the pressure to get over that last hurdle and reach the final weekend.

Tournament Re-Matches

What a tangled web the NCAA committee managed to weave in the New England Sectional. Williams 2012 Final Four run, as fate would have it, ended the season for all three other teams in play this weekend. In succession, the 2012 Ephs eliminated St. Lawrence (2-1, Second Round), Brandeis (1-0, Sweet 16) and Amherst (0-0, Elite Eight). While only one rematch is guaranteed, the potential for a second is certainly intriguing.

In 2012, a tight game saw Brandeis outshoot and out corner Williams yet fall to a second-half goal. The Judges have surely remembered what it felt like to have their season ended by Williams and will be looking to return the favor.

Should Williams and St. Lawrence advance, we would be treated to yet another rematch from a game where Williams was (statistically) outplayed but still managed to eke out a 2-1 overtime victory. St. Lawrence scored in the very first minute, but Williams came back with under 10 minutes remaining to force OT and eventually make it to the Sweet 16.

Finally, if Williams and Amherst survive we would witness perhaps the biggest grudge match imaginable. This would mark the sixth game in two years between the Ephs and the Lord Jeffs, and such familiarity has surely bred contempt. Amherst has gone 3-0-2 against Williams over that span, but the 2012 "loss" in penalties means that all the head-to-head success cannot substitute for Williams' 2012 Final Four appearance. Ultimately, we'll have major questions on our hands: Can Amherst get past Williams when it really matters? Can Williams beat Amherst at all? Or, in an excruciating case of déjà vu, will these teams be forced to head to the penalty spot once again?

Why they will advance to the Final Four

Brandeis: The Judges have faced more top teams throughout the season and (unlike the other three teams) were pushed during the first two rounds of the tournament. Battle-hardened from the grueling UAA schedule, Brandeis’ defense is peaking at the right time and will shut down Williams’ inconsistent offense in payback from 2012. From there, Brandeis rides momentum and the scoring prowess of Savonen past the beat-up survivor of the St. Lawrence-Amherst battle to San Antonio.

Williams: The Ephs are peaking at the right time, firing in eight goals last weekend after only scoring 24 all season. Brandeis has struggled against top-level competition, and Williams will provide a much sterner test than the Tufts squad that handled the Judges earlier this year. In the Elite Eight, the Ephs rely heavily on last year’s experience to down St. Lawrence or else find that the saying “third (or sixth) time’s a charm” holds true to overcome Amherst and return to the Final Four.

St. Lawrence: In perhaps the marquee matchup of the Sweet 16, the Saints’ stingy defense and a healthy dose of Bednarsky make the difference in a tight matchup worthy of San Antonio. Having overcome Amherst on its home field, the Saints’ confidence skyrockets and they overpower Brandeis or shut down Williams’ inconsistent offense to earn the opportunity to add another championship to St. Lawrence lore.

Amherst: The numbers are on Amherst’s side: two straight undefeated seasons, a stingy defense and a strong offense; probability itself would say that four straight Sweet 16s should result in at least one Final Four appearance. The Lord Jeffs will be the strongest team St. Lawrence has seen since opening day, and a similar result ensues as Amherst returns to the Elite Eight. Once there, the Lord Jeffs fly past Brandeis or flip the script from 2012 to deliver a final knockout blow to Williams and give the Lord Jeffs’ seniors a much-deserved trip to San Antonio.

Other Sectional Previews:  NORTHEAST | MIDWEST  | EAST
Tuesday, Sep. 2: All times Eastern
M:
Final
at Framingham State 4, Suffolk 0
Box Score
M:
Final
TCNJ 5, at York (N.Y.) 0
M:
Final
at Juniata 3, St. Vincent 0
Box Score
M:
Final
Eastern 3, at Mount St. Vincent 1
M:
Final
Wesleyan 1, at Eastern Connecticut 0
Box Score
M:
Cancelled
Spalding at Hanover
Live Stats
M:
Final
at Chicago 6, Knox 2
Box Score
M:
Final
at Lindenwood (IL) 2, Principia 1
M:
Final
Alvernia 4, at Gwynedd-Mercy 0
M:
Final
at Bethel 6, Northwestern (Minn.) 1
Box Score
M:
Final
Monmouth 4, at Central 2
M:
Final - 2OT
Stevenson 3, at Penn State-Berks 2
Box Score
M:
Final
at MIT 7, Anna Maria 0
Box Score
M:
Final
at RPI 1, Richard Stockton 0
M:
Final
at Medaille 2, Wells 1
M:
Halftime
1 Alfred St.
2 Penn College
Live Stats
M:
Postponed
Manhattanville at Arcadia
M:
Final
at Potsdam State 5, Johnson State 0
Box Score
M:
Final
at Wittenberg 2, Wilmington 1
Box Score
M:
Final
at Kean 2, St. Joseph's (L.I.) 0
Box Score
M:
8:00 PM
Linfield at Trinity Lutheran
M:
OT - 04:51
1 Amherst
1 New England College
Live Stats Video
M:
8:00 PM
Austin at LeTourneau
Live Stats
M:
Postponed
Bard at Sage
Live Stats
M:
8:30 PM
Franciscan at Waynesburg
M:
8:30 PM
Loras at Carroll
M:
9:00 PM
Northwest Chrst. at George Fox
M:
1st half - 45:00
0 Hope Int'l
0 La Verne
M:
1st half - 45:00
0 UC Santa Cruz
0 Cal Lutheran
Live Stats
W:
Final
Johnson and Wales 4, at Nichols 0
W:
Final
Keene State 1, at Framingham State 0
W:
Final
at Delaware Valley 7, Baptist Bible 0
W:
Final
Trine 1, at Manchester 0
Photos
W:
Final
Alfred St. 2, at Medaille 0
W:
Final
Christendom 5, at Mary Baldwin 1
W:
Final
Marian 2, at Ripon 1
W:
Final
SUNY-Old Westbury 6, at York (N.Y.) 1
W:
Final
at Lake Forest 3, Carthage 2
W:
Final
Wentworth 5, at Emerson 0
W:
Final
Curry 1, at Rhode Island College 0
W:
Final
Loras 2, at Carroll 0
W:
Final - 2OT
Austin 2, at LeTourneau 1
W:
6:30 PM
Franciscan at Waynesburg
W:
Final
LaGrange 2, at Toccoa Falls 0
W:
Postponed
Emory and Henry at Bluefield Col.
W:
Final
at Susquehanna 3, Lycoming 0
W:
Final
MIT 4, at Worcester State 0
W:
Final
at Bates 2, St. Joseph's (Maine) 0
W:
Final
at Baldwin-Wallace 2, Ohio Wesleyan 0
W:
Final
Sewanee 1, at Covenant 0
Photos
W:
Final
Babson 2, at Bridgewater State 1
W:
Final
Oglethorpe 2, at Wesleyan (Ga.) 1
W:
Final
at Lesley 1, Eastern Nazarene 0
W:
38:00 2nd
0 University of the Ozarks
1 Hendrix
W:
Halftime
0 St. Mary's (Ind.)
3 Illinois Wesleyan
Wednesday, Sep. 3: All times Eastern
M:
12:00 PM
Lancaster Bible at Berkeley (NJ)
M:
3:00 PM
Alfred at Pitt-Bradford
M:
3:30 PM
Curry at Newbury
M:
4:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Penn St. Hazleton
M:
4:00 PM
Westfield State at Albertus Magnus
M:
4:00 PM
SUNY-Old Westbury at John Jay
M:
4:00 PM
New Jersey City at CCNY
M:
4:00 PM
Western New England at Wheaton (Mass.)
Live Stats
M:
4:00 PM
Clark at Nichols
Live Stats
M:
4:00 PM
Wentworth at Johnson and Wales
Live Stats
M:
4:00 PM
Skidmore at New Paltz State
M:
4:00 PM
Western Connecticut at Vassar
M:
4:00 PM
St. Mary's (Md.) at Washington College
M:
4:00 PM
Baruch at Farmingdale State
M:
4:00 PM
Misericordia at Baptist Bible
M:
4:00 PM
Moravian at Cairn
M:
4:00 PM
Hamilton at Oswego State
Live Stats
M:
4:00 PM
Connecticut College at Mitchell
M:
4:00 PM
Mass-Boston at Tufts
Live Stats Video
M:
4:00 PM
St. Joseph's (Maine) at Thomas
M:
4:00 PM
Daniel Webster at Colby-Sawyer
M:
4:00 PM
Frostburg State at Bethany
M:
4:00 PM
King's at Elmira
M:
4:30 PM
Shenandoah at Hood
M:
4:30 PM
Maine Maritime at Colby
M:
5:00 PM
Wabash at Earlham
Live Stats
M:
5:00 PM
La Roche at Washington and Jefferson
M:
5:00 PM
Emerson at Regis (Mass.)
Live Stats
M:
5:00 PM
Montclair State at Hunter
M:
5:00 PM
Endicott at Bowdoin
Live Stats
M:
5:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Dominican
M:
5:00 PM
MacMurray at Illinois College
M:
5:00 PM
Ripon at Eureka
M:
6:00 PM
Worcester State at Rhode Island College
M:
6:00 PM
Maine-Presque Isle at St. Thomas N.B.
M:
6:00 PM
Utica at SUNYIT
M:
6:00 PM
St. Norbert at Concordia (Wis.)
Live Stats
M:
6:00 PM
Dubuque at Grinnell
M:
6:30 PM
Rutgers-Camden at Cabrini
M:
7:00 PM
Bluffton at Wooster
Live Stats
M:
7:00 PM
Mount Aloysius at Penn State-Harrisburg
M:
7:00 PM
Plattsburgh State at Norwich
Live Stats
M:
7:00 PM
Stevens at William Paterson
M:
7:00 PM
Staten Island at New York University
M:
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Elms
Live Stats
M:
7:00 PM
Muskingum at Mount St. Joseph
Live Stats
M:
7:00 PM
Brooklyn at SUNY-Purchase
M:
7:00 PM
McDaniel at Goucher
Live Stats
M:
7:00 PM
Lycoming at Susquehanna
Live Stats
M:
7:00 PM
Immaculata at Albright
M:
7:00 PM
St. John Fisher at Brockport State
M:
7:00 PM
Wilkes at Muhlenberg
Live Stats
M:
7:00 PM
Ramapo at FDU-Florham
M:
7:00 PM
Becker at Massachusetts Maritime
Live Stats Video
M:
7:15 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Lehman
M:
7:30 PM
Widener at Ursinus
Live Stats Video
M:
7:30 PM
Westminster (Pa.) at Penn State-Behrend
Live Stats
M:
7:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Eastern Mennonite
Video
M:
7:30 PM
Trinity (Conn.) at Rivier
Live Stats
M:
7:30 PM
DePauw at Franklin
M:
7:45 PM
Rutgers-Newark at Merchant Marine
Live Stats
M:
8:00 PM
Eastern Nazarene at Lesley
Live Stats Video
M:
8:00 PM
University of New England at Bates
M:
8:00 PM
Rose-Hulman at Greenville
M:
8:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at UW-Oshkosh
M:
8:00 PM
Lawrence at Milwaukee Engineering
M:
8:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Bethany Lutheran
Live Stats
M:
8:00 PM
Carleton at Carthage
M:
8:00 PM
Nebraska Wesleyan at Simpson
Live Stats Video
M:
9:00 PM
Luther at Augsburg
M:
10:00 PM
Caltech at Soka
M:
10:00 PM
La Sierra at Occidental
Live Stats Video
M:
10:30 PM
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps at Azusa Pacific
W:
2:00 PM
Stephens at MacMurray
W:
3:00 PM
St. Olaf at UW-Stevens Point
W:
3:30 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Salve Regina
W:
4:00 PM
Norwich at Colby-Sawyer
W:
4:00 PM
Morrisville State at Southern Vermont
W:
4:00 PM
Simmons at Smith
W:
4:00 PM
Bard at SUNY-Cobleskill
W:
4:00 PM
Alvernia at Lancaster Bible
W:
4:00 PM
Washington College at Cabrini
Live Stats Video
W:
4:00 PM
Misericordia at Lebanon Valley
W:
4:00 PM
Allegheny at John Carroll
W:
4:00 PM
Massachusetts Maritime at Becker
W:
4:00 PM
Rutgers-Newark at Staten Island
W:
4:00 PM
Wesleyan at Mass-Boston
Live Stats
W:
4:00 PM
Eastern at Rosemont
W:
4:00 PM
Cedar Crest at Valley Forge Christ.
W:
4:00 PM
Lasell at Roger Williams
W:
4:15 PM
Marymount at Randolph-Macon
W:
4:30 PM
St. Joseph (Conn.) at Trinity (Conn.)
Audio
W:
4:30 PM
Daniel Webster at Anna Maria
Live Stats
W:
4:30 PM
Bluffton at Wooster
Video
W:
4:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Eastern Mennonite
Video
W:
5:00 PM
Albany Pharmacy at Sage
Video
W:
5:00 PM
Mount Aloysius at Penn State-Harrisburg
W:
5:00 PM
Immaculata at Albright
W:
5:00 PM
Point Park at La Roche
W:
5:00 PM
Houghton at Penn State-Behrend
W:
5:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Lehman
W:
5:00 PM
Martin Luther at UW-Superior
W:
5:00 PM
Beloit at Concordia-Chicago
Live Stats
W:
5:00 PM
UW-Eau Claire at Bethel
Live Stats Video
W:
6:00 PM
Mitchell at Coast Guard
W:
6:00 PM
Western New England at Western Connecticut
W:
6:00 PM
Endicott at Salem State
W:
6:00 PM
Salisbury at Richard Stockton
W:
6:00 PM
Rose-Hulman at Greenville
W:
6:00 PM
Nebraska Wesleyan at Simpson
Video
W:
6:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Hamline
Live Stats Video
W:
6:00 PM
Coe at Cornell
W:
6:00 PM
UW-Platteville at St. Ambrose
W:
7:00 PM
King's at Penn State-Berks
W:
7:00 PM
Messiah at Johns Hopkins
Live Stats Video
W:
7:00 PM
Ramapo at Mount St. Mary
W:
7:00 PM
Gettysburg at Shenandoah
W:
7:00 PM
Brooklyn at Montclair State
W:
7:00 PM
Emmanuel at Fitchburg State
Video
W:
7:00 PM
William Paterson at St. Joseph's (L.I.)
W:
7:00 PM
Frostburg State at Washington and Jefferson
W:
7:00 PM
Wittenberg at Wilmington
W:
7:00 PM
Stevenson at Dickinson
Video Video
W:
7:00 PM
Gordon at WPI
Video
W:
7:00 PM
Ursinus at Arcadia
Live Stats
W:
7:00 PM
Bethany at Muskingum
W:
7:00 PM
Pitt-Greensburg at Geneva
W:
7:00 PM
York (Pa.) at Elizabethtown
Live Stats Video
W:
7:00 PM
Virginia Wesleyan at New Jersey
W:
7:00 PM
SUNY-Canton at Plattsburgh State
W:
7:00 PM
Hood at Catholic
W:
7:00 PM
Pomona-Pitzer at Master's
Live Stats Video
W:
7:30 PM
FDU-Florham at Kean
W:
7:30 PM
New England College at Regis (Mass.)
W:
8:00 PM
King's (NY) at Yeshiva
W:
8:00 PM
UW-Stout at St. Mary's (Minn.)
W:
8:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at UW-Whitewater
W:
8:00 PM
Dubuque at North Park
No contests today.
No contests today.