STANDISH, Maine – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (14-1-4, 8-0-1 GNAC) will host #4 Suffolk University (9-9-0, 6-3-0 GNAC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Men's Soccer Tournament Semifinal game on Tuesday at 2:30 PM at Westerlea Way Field.
THE BRACKET THUS FAR:
All four of the top seeds advanced to the second round of the GNAC Tournament, as Saint Joseph's defeated #8 Mount Ida College, 4-0, while Suffolk blanked #5 Albertus Magnus College, 2-0, Norwich toppled #7 Rivier University, 4-1, and Johnson & Wales topped #6 Emmanuel College, 3-0 in quarterfinal action on Saturday.
Tuesday's victor advances to the GNAC Championship game, which will be played at the highest remaining seed's home field, and will face the winner of the #3 Johnson & Wales University / #2 Norwich University in the title bout on Saturday.
The winner of the GNAC Championship game earns an automatic berth into the 2016 NCAA DIII Men's Soccer Championship, which begins on November 12th.
SEASON AT A GLANCE:
- The Monks have been the best defensive team in the conference this season with a minuscule 0.30 goals against average – the second-lowest mark in the nation – while outscoring opponents by a 35-6 margin
- Saint Joseph's also ranks second nationally in shutout percentage (74%), third in save percentage (.889), 12th in shots per game (21.16), 17th in shots on goal per game (9.95), and 18th in winning percentage (.842)
- St. Joe's outscored conference foes by an aggregate 18-1 score, with the lone goal allowed being an own-goal in a 2-1 win over Johnson & Wales on October 1st
- The Monks are currently riding a program record 17-game unbeaten streak, with the team's only blemish thus far being a 2-0 setback at the hands of University of New England on September 4th
- The Rams rank second in the GNAC in shot percentage (.149), third in goals scored (40), shots on goal (133), and assists (30), fourth in shots (268), shots per game (14.9), shots on goal percentage (.496), and penalty kicks (3-3), and fifth in corner kicks (90) and shutouts (5)
- The Mustangs held a 4-2-1 record after defeating Anna Maria College, 3-2, on September 17th, but the team has struggled since with just one victory in their last 10 games: a 2-1 triumph over Lasell College on October 15th
- Suffolk is 2-3 in the last five games and has been outscored by a 16-5 margin during this span
- In seven road games this fall, the Rams have been outscored by an aggregate 20-11 margin
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Sophomore forward Brett Mattos (Mahopac, N.Y.) leads the SJC offensive attack with six goals and three assists for 15 total points; five of his six strikes have been of the game-winning variety
- Junior Austin Bell (Gorham, Maine), who netted three goals in the Monks' quarterfinal win over Mount Ida, has six goals and 12 total points this fall
- With a balanced attack – 14 different players have scored at least one goal – the Monks have five others with three or more goals on the season: freshman Cody Elliott (Gorham, Maine), sophomore Kartikeya Swarup (Delhi, India), sophomore Dalton Gaumer (Corona, Calif.), junior Trevor Lopes (Cumberland, R.I.), and senior Nicholas Borowski (Webster, Mass.)
- Freshmen JoJo Strobino (Clifton, N.J.) and Mitchell Duncan (Sanford, Maine) have dealt seven and four assists, respectively
- Senior Alberto Bittan (Venezuela) leads the conference in goals (15), points (34), and game-winners (5) and ranked as the NCAA DIII leader in goals (11) and points (26) on September 19th, but has netted four goals in the Ram's last 11 matches
- Sophomore midfielder Jordan Casey (East Hampton, Conn.) has netted five goals with five assists for 15 total points
- Freshman midfielder Jarrett Davis (Loudon, N.H.) has emerged as one of the top young players in the conference and has three goals and nine assists to his credit
- First-year forward Christian Restrepo (Everett, Mass.) has scored four goals with five assists and senior midfielder Aaron Haggas (London, U.K.) has contributed five goals and two assists
Saint Joseph's: Sophomore Blake Mullen (Manchester, Conn.) is in the midst of one of the finest seasons ever recorded by a Saint Joseph's goalkeeper, with conference-leading numbers in goals against average (0.27), save percentage (.898), wins (13), and shutouts (11). The two-time GNAC Goalkeeper of the Week honoree currently ranks second in the nation in goals against average and third in save percentage.
Suffolk: Freshman Jon Brodeur (Northampton, Mass.) has earned the starting spot for the Rams as a first-year player and sports a 2.15 goals against average with a 6-5 record and four shutouts in 10 starts and 13 appearances overall. Brodeur carries a .730 save percentage into the semis having made 65 saves with 24 goals allowed in 1,002 minutes in goal. Sophomore Kyle Van Cleef (Sandwich, Mass.) has started seven games in net with a 2.69 goals against average and a .654 save percentage in 602 minutes of play.
ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:
Saint Joseph's Head Coach Adrian Dubois, now in his third season at the helm, is 30-23-5 (.566) overall with a 17-9-1 (.654) record in conference play on the college sideline. The Monks have shown dramatic improvement since his first year (2014), when an injury-maligned club went 5-15 overall (3-6 GNAC), as St. Joe's went 11-7-1 with a 6-3 mark in GNAC play in 2015 en route to earning the #3 seed in the GNAC tourney before emerging as the top team in the conference this fall.
Suffolk Head Coach James Boden is in his second season for the Rams and has also guided his program to a quick turnaround. In his first year, Suffolk went 2-16-1 and suffered a 9-0 quarterfinal defeat at the hands of eventual GNAC Champion Johnson & Wales. With a roster featuring 13 freshmen, the Rams have improved by seven wins in Coach Boden's second collegiate campaign.
THE LAST TIME WE MET:
These two teams met less than two weeks ago when Saint Joseph's defeated Suffolk by a 1-0 score at Yarmouth High School on October 19th. Mattos netted the game's only marker off a Strobino pass in the 64th minute while Mullen posted six stops in the victory. Brodeur made nine saves in the loss as the Monks held advantages in shots (21-15) and corner kicks (11-4) in the conference contest.
Saint Joseph's is 6-4-1 in the history of the series with Suffolk University. Five of the Monks' six wins over the Rams have been of the shutout variety as each of the last two meetings have seen St. Joe's win by 1-0 scores.
The Monks have advanced to the GNAC Tournament every season since the College joined the conference in the fall of 2007. St. Joe's is 9-7 in GNAC postseason play with GNAC Championships in 2009 and 2011. Saint Joseph's has advanced to the semifinal round for the fourth time and has advanced to the championship game in each of the three previous appearances.
Suffolk, which joined the GNAC in 1999, has earned a playoff spot for the 16th time and will be making the program's third semifinal appearance on Tuesday. The Rams last played in the semifinals in 2010 when the side, as the #4 seed, tipped top-seeded Lasell, 2-1, and proceeded to claim the 2010 GNAC Championship with a 2-1 victory over #2 Albertus Magnus.
Tuesday's tournament matchup will be the first postseason meeting between the Monks and Rams.
Saint Joseph's College is Maine's only Catholic liberal arts college, providing a supportive, personalized and career-focused education for more than 100 years. From its 474-acre campus on the shores of Sebago Lake, the College offers more than 40 undergraduate programs to a population of approximately 1,000 students. Saint Joseph's College Online provides certificates, undergraduate and advanced degrees for working adults through an online learning program. For more, visit www.sjcme.edu.