Jeffs Draw Husson in NCAA First Round
Contact: Ben Badua
AMHERST, Mass. - Fresh off its second NESCAC title in the last four years, the sixth-ranked Amherst men's soccer team will host Husson on Saturday, Nov. 12 as it begins its quest for a national championship.
Game schedule: Springfield and Eastern Connecticut State will open tournament play on Hitchcock Field at 11 a.m. on Saturday, followed by Amherst vs. Husson at 1:30 p.m.
Ticket Information: Tickets for will be $6 for adults and $3 for senior citizens, children and students with a valid ID. Children under the age of two will be admitted free of charge.
Live Coverage: Webcast
WEEKEND PREVIEW: Securing its second conference title in the last four seasons with a 2-0 shutout of Trinity, Amherst makes its sixth-consecutive appearance (11th overall) in the NCAA Tournament.
Ranked sixth nationally in the latest NSCAA coaches poll and first in the New England region, the Lord Jeffs boast a 14-1-2 overall mark and will look to improve upon their 13-8-6 tournament record.
After winning its last NESCAC Championship in 2008, Amherst advanced to the national semifinals. A perennial contender, the Jeffs have earned a berth into the sectional semifinals in three of the last four seasons, while having reached the quarterfinal round on two occasions.
Opening the year with a 13-game unbeaten streak (11-0-2), Amherst suffered its first loss of 2011 in its regular season finale against Conn. College. The Jeffs rebounded with a 4-0 shutout of Colby in the NESCAC quarterfinals before earning a thrilling 2-1 double-overtime win over rival Middlebury. Amherst then captured its second conference crown with a 2-0 shutout of Trinity.
Scoring a league-high 2.41 goals per game, the dynamic Amherst offense has seen 12 different players score goals this season, with three student-athletes ranked in the top eight in the NESCAC in points.
Junior forward Spencer Noon ’13 (Farmington, Conn.) has consistently proven to be the squad’s most dangerous threat, leading the league in both points (28) and goals (12). With 32 career markers and 76 points, he stands just three goals and seven points shy of setting the program record in both categories.
Sophomore Jae Heo (Changwon, South Korea) has also enjoyed a stellar season, ranking fifth in points (17) and tied for fourth in goals (7) while Alejandro Sucre ’13 (Caracas, Venezuela) sits tied for eighth in the NESCAC in points with 13. Twin brother Federico Sucre ’13 (Caracas, Venezuela), the league’s reining Player of the Week, and Max Fikke ’14 (New York, N.Y.) are currently tied for fourth in the conference in assists and could also make their impact felt this weekend.
Anchoring the Amherst’s defensive unit is goalkeeper Lennard Kovacs ’12 (Wolfersdorf, Germany) who has posted a 13-1-2 mark in 16 appearances. The senior co-captain has logged over 1469 minutes in net this season, ranking third in the NESCAC in goals-against average (0.61) and save percentage (0.846) while posting seven shutouts.
Capturing their second North Atlantic Conference title with a 3-2 win over Castleton St., Husson enters Saturday’s showdown against host Amherst with a 13-6-1 overall record. Opening the year with a 7-6-1 mark, the Eagles are riding a six-game win streak into the NCAA Tournament, outscoring opponents 19-5 during that span. Amherst will be the third NESCAC opponent Husson has faced this season, having already dropped a pair of games to Colby (3-1) and Bates (2-1).
Leading an Eagles offense that ranks third in the NAC in goals per game (2.1) is Philip Frost ’15 who earned tournament MVP honors after scoring six goals in three league playoff games. The forward has made an immediate impact in his first full season, ranking first in the conference in both points (37) and goals (16).
Also a threat to score are Zach Emeigh ’14 and Greg Dawson ’12 who sit sixth and seventh respectively in points, with Emeigh currently leading the league in assists (9). Teammate Andrew Austin ’15 ranks second with seven helpers.
Hoping to keep the Lord Jeff offense in check is first-year goalkeeper Brian Potter who has posted a 10-2-0 mark in 14 appearances. Logging 1174 minutes, the Waterville, Maine native leads the conference in goals-against average (0.77) while sitting fourth in save percentage (0.872).
Capturing its first NEWMAC championship since 1999, Springfield (10-4-4) will make just its second NCAA Tournament appearance when it takes on Eastern Connecticut State University in a first round matchup on Hitchcock Field.
Stumbling to a 3-4 mark to end the regular season, the Pride quickly rebounded, earning a 2-1 win over Wheaton in the league semifinals. Facing No. 12 Babson (ranked second in the New England Region) in the finals, Springfield earned a hard-fought 1-1 double-overtime draw before edging out the Beavers 4-3 in penalty kicks to earn its second league title.
Averaging just 1.6 goals per game, Springfield has relied on a steady defense that has allowed the second fewest goals in the NEWMAC (18), posting seven shutouts en route to the conference’s second-lowest GAA (0.94). Playing an integral role in the squad’s defensive efforts has been the NEWMAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player, goalkeeper Brett Bascom ’15 who ranks second in the league in both goals-against average (0.88) and save percentage (0.811).
Headlining the Pride offense are a pair of first-years in Kevin Nowak and Zach Dutter who have combined for nine goals and three assists.
Securing its third Little East Conference title in the last five years with a 1-0 win over Keene St., ECSU (14-5-1) will make its fifth-consecutive appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Winners of five of their last six games, the Warriors have outscored their opponents 15-2 down the stretch, recording four shutouts during that span.
Averaging the second-most goals per game in the LEC (2.30), a balanced ECSU offense features a pair of talented scorers ranked in the top eight in the league in points. Matt Furman ’13 currently sits fourth in the conference in goals with nine while teammate Cory Tobler ’13 is tied for fifth in assists (6). Matt Esposito ’12, who garnered LEC tournament Most Outstanding Player honors, will also test opposing defenses, having recorded six markers on the season.
Leading a defensive unit that has surrendered a league-low 10 goals while posting 13 shutouts is goalkeeper Carl Appel ’12. The senior tops the league in goals-against average (0.55) and save percentage (0.885), posting a 12-5-1 mark with nine shutouts.