Men's Soccer Heads To Williams For NESCAC Weekend - Listen/Watch Live
November 2, 2006
Williams College will look to earn its fifth NESCAC title in the past seven years this weekend when the Ephs host the 2006 NESCAC Men's Soccer Championship at Cole Field in Williamstown, Mass. Williams, the number-one seed for the fourth year in a row, will take on sixth-seeded Bates on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 11:00 a.m. in the first semifinal game, followed afterwards at 1:30 p.m. with second-seeded Amherst facing fifth-seeded Middlebury. The 2006 NESCAC Men's Soccer Championship will conclude on Sunday, Nov. 5, with the final match at 12:00 p.m.
Williams (12-1-0, 7-1-0 NESCAC) was prepared for a winner-take-all match to determine the top seed this past Saturday at NESCAC rival Amherst, however poor field conditions caused by excessive rain led to the cancellation of the contest and gave the Ephs the number-one seed with the best winning percentage in conference play. While Williams holds a 10-2 record in tournament play, the Ephs came up short in last year's bid for a fifth- consecutive crown, falling to seventh seed and eventual champion Wesleyan 1-0 in the semis. Entering Saturday's semifinal match, the Ephs sport a near-perfect 12-1-0 overall record, the only loss coming to fellow semifinalist Middlebury at home on Oct. 14, a 3-2 double-overtime decision in favor of the Panthers. Opponents have been hard-pressed to score against Williams this season, as the Ephs have more shutouts (7) than games where they have allowed a goal (6). Williams boasts the lowest goals against average among conference teams this season, 0.61, having allowed more than one goal on one occasion, the aforementioned loss to Middlebury. On the other end of the field, the offense is scoring a full two goals more than the defense is allowing - 2.62 per game, second in the NESCAC in that category. Senior midfielder Patrick Huffer (Boulder, Colo.), a 2005 NESCAC All-Conference First Team selection, leads the league in scoring with 13 goals, adding in two assists for 28 points.
Sixth-seeded Bates (8-5-2, 3-4-2 NESCAC) ended years of overtime frustration in championship play on Sunday at third-seeded Wesleyan with a 1- 0 double-overtime victory courtesy of Brent Morin's (Hanover, N.H.) goal in the 103rd minute and junior goalkeeper Rob Munro's (Walpole, Mass.) 10 saves, many of which were spectacular. Prior to the win, the Bobcats had fallen in the first round of the tournament in each of the past two years, both times in overtime. Although it is Bates' first appearance in the semifinals of the NESCAC Men's Soccer Championship, don't expect the Bobcats to be satisfied with just making it to the round of four to face the Ephs for the first time in tournament history. Since falling to Williams 3-0 on Oct. 7, Bates has gone 3-1-2 in its last six games, notably picking up a 1-0 win at fellow semifinalist Middlebury on Oct. 21. Part of Bates' late-season success can be contributed to the performance of Munro in net, who has appeared in each of the last six contests for the Bobcats, logging three complete games. Through nine outings so far this season, Munro holds a minute 0.31 goals against average and a solid .909 save percentage, boasting a 5-0-2 record this year while only allowing two goals, both coming during the Oct. 28 Colby match.
Second-seeded Amherst (11-1-2, 6-1-1 NESCAC) survived a challenging contest against seventh-seeded Tufts on Sunday. Down 3-2 late in the second half, the Jeffs tied the game with under nine minutes remaining before playing through two scoreless overtime periods. The game went to penalty kicks to determine which team would advance to Saturday's semifinal round, and three crucial saves by Amherst sophomore netminder Jeff Grover (Framingham, Mass.) allowed the Jeffs to move past the Jumbos, 3-2. Amherst is making its second consecutive appearance in the semifi-nals this year and its fourth overall in tournament history. Like Williams, defense has been the hallmark of Amherst this season, holding a goals against average of 0.62, second only to the Ephs in the NESCAC, with seven shutouts and allowing more than one goal on one occasion. Offen-sively, the Jeffs are led by a pair of forwards, sophomore Jake Duker (Newton, Mass.) and senior co-captain Mike Wohl (Northampton, Mass.). Duker has tallied seven goals through 14 outings while Wohl, an explosive forward that has earned All-NESCAC First Team honors in each of the last two seasons, has six goals through 12 appearances. In net, Grover holds a 7-1-2 record and a 0.46 goals against average, allowing five goals this fall.
The Jeffs came within a goal of earning the NESCAC Men's Soccer crown against Wesleyan last year, and while there is the potential this weekend for Amherst to play again for the NESCAC title with a possible showdown against rival Williams the Jeffs cannot overlook their semifinal opponent, a resurgent fifth-seeded Middlebury (10-5-0, 5-4-0 NESCAC). The Panthers opened the season with five-straight wins before slowing in their next 10 games, posting a 5-5-0 record during that span. Middlebury heads into Saturday's tilt against Amherst with a bit of momentum though after winning the regular season finale against Trinity, 3-0, and upending fourth-seeded Bowdoin 2-1 on the road in the first round. The Panthers, the only team besides the Ephs to reach the semifinals every year that the championship has been held, have advanced to the championship match three times, winning the inaugural crown in 2000. A chance to return to the title game will require Middlebury to face Amherst in the semifinals for the second- straight year, after the Jeffs ended the Panthers 2005 season one game shy of the championship, 1-0. Middlebury has struggled to overcome Amherst in the last five meetings between the two teams, going 1-3-1 and most recently falling by a 3-1 score on Oct. 7 at home. The Panthers will look to sophomore Casey Ftorek (Wolfeboro, N.H.) to lead the offense in what will be only the second meeting between the two clubs in tournament history. Ftorek is tied for second among conference players with 12 goals, four of which are game-winners, while his 32 points (12-8-32) lead the NESCAC.
You can listen to the semifinals for a fee by going to the teamline webpage via: www.williams.edu/athletics
The championship game can be watched live at: www.d3cast.com
2006 NESCAC MEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
Semifinals - Saturday, November 4 at Williams
No. 6 Bates at No. 1 Williams - 11:00 a.m.
No. 5 Middlebury vs. No. 2 Amherst - 1:30 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, November 5 at Williams
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.