Middlebury

Women's Soccer To Host NESCAC Quarters

October 28, 2011

For the first time since 2006, Amherst College has earned the number-one seed for the NESCAC Women's Soccer Championship. The Lord Jeffs will enjoy home field throughout the conference championship and will begin their quest for a third conference crown this Saturday when quarterfinal action gets underway. Along with Amherst at home in the first round on Saturday will be Middlebury, Tufts, and four-time defending NESCAC champion Williams. The highest remaining seed following Saturday's action will host the semifinals and final on Nov. 5-6.

Amherst (14-0-0, 10-0-0 NESCAC) became the fourth team in league history to put together a perfect regular season record, joining the Williams squads of 2001, 2007, and 2009 with a 4-0 decision over Connecticut College in the finale for both. In pursuit of their first NESCAC title since 2003, the Jeffs appear to have put together the complete package on the pitch this season. Amherst leads the league in scoring, averaging nearly three goals per game, while its defensive unit has given up just five goals all year, a 0.37 goals against average. The Jeffs will start things off on Saturday against eighth-seeded Bowdoin (6-5-3, 2-5-3 NESCAC) in a rematch from last year's quarterfinals. The Polar Bears fell to Tufts by a 3-1 score on Wednesday, however losses by Bates, 1-0 to Colby, and Trinity, 2-1 to Wesleyan on Tuesday, meant that Bowdoin's one-point advantage in the standings would hold up. The Jeffs and the Polar Bears squared off less than two weeks ago on Oct. 16 with Amherst escaping Brunswick a 2-1, double-overtime winner. While the loss was heartbreaking for Bowdoin, the Polar Bears proved to be just the second team this season to take the Jeffs beyond regulation. The two clubs met for the first time in postseason history last fall, as Amherst posted a 3-2 victory.

While the Jeffs had locked up the top seed in the tournament this past weekend, the second seed was still up for grabs between Middlebury and Williams. The Ephs held a three-point lead over the Panthers heading into Wednesday's match, however Middlebury's 1-0 victory gave it the head-to-head tie-breaker in the NESCAC standings and along with it the number-two seed. The two-time conference champion Panthers (10-3-1, 7-2-1 NESCAC) will host seventh-seeded Colby (7-6-1, 3-6-1 NESCAC), which is back in the playoffs following a one year absence. Only a win would put the Mules into the tournament, as they sat one point behind Bates and Trinity with one game remaining against the Bobcats. Colby's Alex Yorke scored what proved to be the only goal of Wednesday's game, giving the Mules a 1-0 win at Bates. Middlebury and Colby met all the way back during the second weekend of the season and the host Panthers came away a 4-0 winner. Since falling at Hamilton on Oct. 8, Middlebury has gone 4-0-0 and not allowed a goal. These two squads have seen each other only once in tournament history. The Panthers took that lone meeting 2-0 in the semifinals of the 2006 championship en route to their most recent NESCAC title.

The third seed may not have been what the Ephs wanted, but until anyone says otherwise, Williams (10-3-1, 7-2-1 NESCAC) is the team to beat in the NESCAC tournament. The five-time league champions haven't lost a playoff game since 2006, a remarkable 11-0 run that has allowed them to boast their supremacy in the conference. The Ephs' 1-0 setback at Middlebury on Wednesday snapped a four-game winning streak but they will look to get back on track against sixth-seeded Hamilton (6-7-1, 4-5-1 NESCAC) during Saturday's quarterfinals. The Continentals are in the NESCAC in women's soccer for the first time this season and will make their first-ever championship appearance this weekend. Williams won the regular season meeting in Williamstown on Oct. 4, 4-0, and since that match Hamilton has posted a 1-3-1 record, scoring only two goals.

The last quarterfinal matchup pits fourth-seeded Tufts (7-4-3, 5-3-2 NESCAC) against fifth-seeded Wesleyan (9-5-0, 5-5-0 NESCAC). Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Cardinals put the pressure on the Jumbos with a 2-1 victory over Trinity on Tuesday afternoon. The victory moved Wesleyan above Tufts in the conference standings by a single point, meaning that the Jumbos would have to produce at least a tie at Bowdoin on Wednesday afternoon in order to stay home in the first round. Tufts didn't falter when it mattered and came away a 3-1 winner for the fourth and final home quarterfinal match. The Jumbos and the Cardinals will come together following a regular season meeting on Sept. 17 that went to host Tufts by a 1-0 score. It was the fifth win in the last six meetings for Tufts after the two played to a 1-1 draw in 2010. Saturday's showdown will be the first between the two in playoff history. The Jumbos, whose only NESCAC title came in 2002, will look to return to the semifinals after being unceremoniously dispatched from last year's championship by Bates, as the Bobcats became the first eighth-seeded team to upset a top-seed, doing so via penalty kicks. The Cardinals, who posted their best finish in the conference standings this year, are making their fourth consecutive postseason appearance still in search of a first round win (0-3).

2011 NESCAC WOMEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Saturday, October 29 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Bowdoin at No. 1 Amherst - 2:00 p.m.
No. 7 Colby at No. 2 Middlebury - 12:00 p.m.
No. 6 Hamilton at No. 3 Williams - 11:00 a.m.
No. 5 Wesleyan at No. 4 Tufts - 12:00 p.m.

Semifinals - Saturday, November 5
at Highest Remaining Seed
11:00 a.m./1:30 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, November 6
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.

--courtesy NESCAC--