Williams 2, Thomas 1, Final
St. Lawrence 2, Eastern Connecticut 1, 2OT
Williams 2, St. Lawrence 1, OT
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- The Williams College men's soccer team will begin its quest for a national championship when it hosts the first and second round of the 2012 NCAA Div. III Tournament Saturday and Sunday on Cole Field.
The Ephs will play in Saturday's first game, an 11 a.m. tilt against Thomas (Me.) College (15-2-2). Eastern Connecticut State (17-1-1) will then tangle with St. Lawrence University (13-2-3) at 1:30 p.m.
Saturday's winners will meet Sunday at 1:30 back on Cole Field for the right to advance to the third round of the tournament.
Here's a closer look at the teams:
For the 17th time in 20 years Mike Russo has guided his Williams men's soccer team into the NCAA Tournament. The Ephs were the top seeded team for the 2012 NESCAC Tournament, advancing past Tufts in PKs in the semifinals, but falling to archrival Amherst, 2-0, in the championship game Sunday.
Williams has had 14 players score this season while outscoring its opponents, 29-21. First-year Mohammed rashid leads the way with 13 points (4 goals, 5 assists) while junior User Kashaina had 11 (5 g., 1 a.). Senior Patrick Ebobisse has collected 8 points (2g., 4a.) while sophomores Matt Murralles and Chris Seitz have six points each.
In goal, senior Than Finan and junior Peter Morrell have both played very well. Finan has complied a 0.45 goals against average with an .896 save percentage and a 6-1-3 record. Morrell has a 0.67 GAA and a .871 save percentage.
The Terriers are making their second apperance in the NCAA Tournament.
Last weekend, Thomas defeated Husson University 3-0 in the North Atlantic Conference Championship (NAC). Kenny Cano and Michael Hand both had a goal and an assist in the match. The Terrier defense held strong throughout the contest, allowing only two shots on the day, both of which Thomas goalkeeper Mikkail Crockwell turned away. Thomas outshot Husson 16-8 to earn their second NAC title in the last three years.
Thomas is riding a lot of momentum heading into this matchup. The Terriers have played three games in the NAC playoffs and have not let up a goal, while netting 11 of their own. During those games, their goals have been evenly dispersed, as they have scored five goals during the first half and six goals in the second half. Thomas has outshot their opponents 48-30 in the playoffs. They are also currently on a nine game winning streak, with their last loss coming at the hands of Colby College on October 3.
For Thomas, Dakota Duplissie, Marcus Johnson, Khamisi Lightbourne, and Kenny Cano have all scored two goals during the NAC conference playoffs. The Terriers are hoping that the even distribution that has carried them through the playoffs will give them the confidence needed to get a big time win.
Thomas goalkeeper Mikkail Crockwell has faced 11 shots over the playoffs, and all 11 did not cross the goal line. Crockwell has only surrendered 10 goals on the year and was recently named NAC Defensive Player of the Year.
Eastern is making its sixth straight post-season appearance -- fifth in that span in NCAA play. Ranked No. 25 nationally, Eastern and No. 18-ranked St. Lawrence are two of the top-ranked defensive teams in Division III. Eastern has posted nine shutouts in 19 matches, the Saints 14 in 18 matches.
Eastern's five four-year seniors will be competing in their unprecedented fourth straight NCAA tournament: Jon DeCasanova, Bradley Fletcher, Matt Furman, Jordan Munsell and Cory Tobler.
In the second round of last year's Lotto Classic, Eastern lost a 1-0 decision to host St. Lawrence in the second meeting between the clubs in the series, which began in 2005.The Saints are making their 17th NCAA tournament appearance, as is Williams.
In their first NCAA tournament appearance ever in 2007, Eastern lost, 2-0, to Williams in the first round. It was the first meeting between the programs. The Warriors defeated Thomas in the only contest between the clubs, in 1992.Eastern is 2-4 in NCAA tourney play. After losing in their openers in 2007 and 2009, the Warriors defeated Nichols College, 1-0, in 2010, and Springfield College, 2-0, a year ago.
Seeded first, Eastern won its fourth Little East Conference playoff title in six years and second straight with the victory over third-seeded UMass Dartmouth. The victory gave the Warriors a season record 17th victory – breaking the 43-year-old mark set in 1969 when the Warriors won the NAIA New England championship.
Junior midfielder Mitch Power was named the LEC playoff Most Outstanding after scoring Eastern's first goal against UMass Dartmouth on a free kick in the seventh minute.
Senior forward Matt Furman was named LEC Offensive Player-of-the-Year and senior back Bradley Fletcher LEC Defensive Player-of-the-Year and the pair were joined on the LEC All-Conference first team by senior forward Cory Tobler, senior keeper Jordan Munsell, junior midfielder Mitch Power, giving the Warriors a program-record five first-team selections. Junior midfielder Carl Stensland and junior back Christopher Giustina were second-team selections.
The Saints enter the weekend with a 13-2-3 record after tying Rensselaer but not advancing in penalty kicks in the Liberty League semifinals.
St. Lawrence has outscored its opponents 44-9, outshot its opponents on goal 174-36 (378-112 total), and averages 21.0 shots per game, while allowing just 6.2.
Nine members earned Liberty League All-Conference honors. Leading the way as first team selections were seniors Sam DeMello (unanimous), Alex Laird and Brian Gilloran, and junior Andrew Bednarsky. Seniors Nate Goss-Woliner and Will Congdon were joined by first-year student Ozzy Morales in earning Second Team honors, while first-year students Seyefe Brouk and Ryan Grant earned Honorable Mention status.
St. Lawrence senior co-captain Sam DeMello's two goals against Hobart on Oct. 6 pushed him over 100 career points. He became the second leading scorer in program history (40g,22a) and only the second player in to reach the century mark.