STANDISH, Maine – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (17-0-1, 9-0-1 GNAC) will host #3 Norwich University (11-3-5, 6-0-4 GNAC) in the 2017 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Men's Soccer Tournament Championship Saturday at the SJC Athletics Complex at 1:00 PM.
The contest will be a rematch of the 2016 conference title bout, which was won by Saint Joseph's, 4-2 in PK's, after 90 minutes of regulation and a pair of 10-minute overtime frames failed to produce a winner, or a goal.
Sunday, October 29 - Quarterfinals
Game 1: #1 Saint Joseph's of Maine 1, #8 Suffolk 0
Game 2: #5 Regis (Mass.) 3, #4 Mount Ida 1
Game 3: #3 Norwich 2, #6 Emmanuel 0
Game 4: #2 Johnson & Wales 1, #7 Albertus Magnus 0
Wednesday, November 1 - Semifinals
Game 5: #1 Saint Joseph's of Maine 6, #5 Regis (Mass.) 0
Game 6: #3 Norwich 2, #2 Johnson & Wales 1
Saturday, November 4 - Final
Game 7: #3 Norwich at #1 Saint Joseph's of Maine, 1:00 PM
The winner of the GNAC Championship game earns an automatic berth into the 2017 NCAA DIII Men's Soccer Championship, which begins on Saturday, November 11th.
LAST TIME OUT:
Saint Joseph's toppled #5 Regis (Mass.), 6-0, in a GNAC semifinal at the SJC Athletics Complex on Wednesday. The Monks kicked off the game scoring in the 13th minute, when sophomores Cody Elliott (Gorham, Maine) and Mitchell Duncan (Sanford, Maine) connected to provide their team with an early lead.
In the second half, junior Brett Mattos (Mahopac, N.Y.), sophomore Ryan Buonaiuto (Scituate, R.I.) and junior Jesse Ramirez (Dumont, N.J.) scored a goal apiece and freshman Noah Elmore (Berlin, Vt.) notched a pair of markers just five minutes apart to close out the scoring ledger.
Norwich capitalized on two Johnson & Wales' own goals in a 2-1 upset semifinal victory in Providence on Wednesday.
Norwich took a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute with a shot by Staige Davis (Shelburne, Vt.) deflected off a JWU defender and into the back of the net.
JWU tied the game in the 54th minute, but Norwich took the lead for good 15 minutes later when Matt Mazzola (Ridgefield, Conn.) headed a ball off a JWU defender's foot into the right corner of the net.
JWU outshot Norwich 22-11 in the game, including a 16-6 edge in the second half. NU junior goalie Brendan Germano (Monroe Township, N.J.) made six saves in the triumph.
SEASON AT A GLANCE
- Through 18 contests, the Monks have outscored their foes by an impressive 64-0 margin with 1,640 minutes of shutout play in goal. Saint Joseph's currently ranks as the NCAA DIII leader in save percentage (1.000), goals against average (0.00), and shutout percentage (1.000).
- The Monks also rank second nationally in shots per game (23.47) and shots on goal per game (12.06), third in won-lost-tied percentage (.971), fifth in assists per game (3.18), sixth in points per game (10.00) and total assists (54), eighth in scoring offense (3.41), and 10th in total goals (58).
- With 18-consecutive shutouts, Saint Joseph's - ranked 19th nationally - breaks the NCAA Men's Soccer (all three levels) record with 18 consecutive shutouts. The previous record of 17 straight shutouts was set by Drew University during the 2003 campaign.
- In 18 games this fall, Saint Joseph's has established new program single-season records for goals (64), assists (58), points (186), longest winning streak (13), and consecutive shutouts (18). The Monks' 13-game winning streak is the third longest current run in NCAA DIII Men's Soccer.
- The Cadets enter the GNAC Championship riding a 14-game unbeaten streak with their last setback coming at the hands of SUNY-Plattsburgh (4-0) on September 13th
- Norwich ranks second in the conference in goals (47), shots on goal (178), assists (41), and corner kicks (121), third in shot percentage (.137), SOG percentage (.520), goals against average (0.99), and shutouts (8), and fourth in shots (342) and shots per game (18.0)
- The Cadets have outscored conference opponents by a collective 29-8 score and have allowed more than two goals on just three occasions this fall
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Junior forward Brett Mattos (Mahopac, N.Y.) is in the midst of the best offensive season in SJC men's soccer history with Monks' single-season records in goals (19) and points (47) in just 18 games. The four-time GNAC Player of the Week honoree leads the conference in goals, points, PK goals (3), and game-winners (6)
- Sophomore midfielder Mitchell Duncan (Sanford, Maine) is enjoying a breakout year with seven goals – including three winners – and six assists for 19 points
- Senior forward Trevor Lopes (Cumberland, R.I.) complements Mattos perfectly up top and has netted eight goals (three clinchers) with two assists for 18 total points
- Sophomore Cody Elliott (Gorham, Maine) has emerged as one of the top playmakers in the conference with a GNAC-leading 13 assists (SJC record) and 17 total points
- Norwich is led offensively by sophomore Luke Gleadle (Gilbert, Ariz.), who has a team-leading 11 goals and two assists for 24 points this season
- Senior Camilo Estrada (Pawtucket, R.I.) has six goals and 10 assists and ranks among the nation's leaders in assists.
- Sophomore Carlos Guerra (Mission, Texas) has five goals and four assists for 14 points, while
- Senior Ransford Ahenkora (Bronx, N.Y.) has five goals and two assists for 12 points.
- Freshman Staige Davis (Shelburne, Vt.) and senior captain Colin Lozito (Wilmington, Vt.) round out the Cadets' top-five scorers with four goals and three assists apiece
Saint Joseph's: Junior Blake Mullen (Manchester, Conn.) has turned away all 42 shots he has faced this fall with 10 shutouts to his credit. The reigning GNAC Goalkeeper of the Year leads the nation in goals against average (0.00) and save percentage (1.000) and has not given up a goal to a GNAC opponent since October 17th, 2015.
Among all active NCAA DIII keepers, Mullen is the career leader in goals against average (0.31), ranks second in save percentage (.895), and third in shutouts (26). In the victory over Regis (Mass.), Mullen extended his consecutive shutout minutes streak to 1,505 minutes and 36 seconds, which counts as the longest stretch without yielding a goal in the history of NCAA Men's Soccer (all levels). Former Drew University keeper Peter Boyer, who logged 1,428 consecutive shutout minutes in 2003, held the previous record.
Norwich: Junior Brendan Germano (Monroe Township, N.J.) has played and started in all 19 games for the Cadets and leads the conference in games and minutes (1,757:48) this fall. He ranks third in the GNAC in GAA (0.97), save percentage (.827), wins (11), and shutouts (6), fourth in fewest goals allowed (14), and fifth in saves (91).
Germano was selected as the GNAC Goalkeeper of the Week on October 24th.
ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:
Saint Joseph's Head Coach Adrian Dubois, now in his fourth season at the helm, is 48-24-8 (.667) overall with a 28-9-2 (.757) 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). In his second season, St. Joe's went 11-7-1, and last fall, the Monks went 15-2-6 last fall en route to clinching a GNAC Championship and the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory – a PK triumph over pod-host Babson College. Dubois earned 2016 GNAC Coach of the Year honors for his efforts.
Dubois played collegiately at University of New Hampshire, where he was a four-year starting midfielder.
Norwich Head Coach Adam Pfeifer guided the Cadets to the #2 seed in the GNAC tourney in his first season and an impressive record during his second campaign.
Coach Pfeifer carriers a 23-8-8 (.742) career record – including an undefeated 12-0-7 mark versus GNAC foes – into the 2017 conference championship game.
Formerly an assistant at Middlebury College for two seasons and Associate Head Coach at Northeastern University, Pfeifer was a four-year starter at Boston College and remains among the Eagles' career scoring leaders.
THE LAST TIME WE MET:
The Monks' only 'blemish' this fall came at the hands of the Cadets on September 16th, when the conference rivals dueled to a 0-0 tie at the SJC Athletics Complex, marking the third-consecutive 110-minute scoreless stalemate between the two GNAC programs.
Both teams recorded a handful of scoring opportunities in a match that featured plenty of back and forth action with the Monks holding the upper hand in close chances. Perhaps the best scoring bid took place in the 105th minute, when Germano denied a Noah Robinson (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) chance but allowed the rebound to fall to the foot of freshman Noah Elmore (Berlin, Vt.), who faced an open net but rifled a shot high over the crossbar.
On a day where humidity was high and temperatures reached the high 80's, both teams seemed gassed in the second overtime frame. But the Cadets registered several scoring chances, as Mullen made saves on attempts by Matt Bento (Brookfield, Conn.) and Guerra to preserve the scoreless tie.
Saint Joseph's is 7-4-4 in the history of the series with Norwich University. Neither team has scored a goal against the other in the last 354 minutes of play as the conference counterparts have put up double zeroes in each of the last three meetings, including a 0-0 score in the 2016 GNAC Championship, which was the last contest played on SJC's Westerlea Way Field (11/5/16) and won by the Monks in PK's.
Norwich's Alec Brigante netted the last goal scored between these two teams in the 66th minute of a 3-1 Saint Joseph's triumph on October 24th, 2015 at Westerlea Way Field.
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 13-7 in GNAC postseason play with GNAC Championships in 2009, 2011, and 2016.
Since joining the GNAC in 1999, the Cadets have rattled off 19-consecutive tournament appearances with four conference titles (1999, 2000, 2001, 2008).
The Cadets' thrilling win over Johnson & Wales marked the program's 14th-consecutive trip to the semifinals while Saturday's contest will be Norwich's 11th GNAC Championship appearance and fifth in the last seven years.
In 19 seasons as a member of the GNAC, Norwich owns an incredible 33-14 (.702) playoff record, including a stellar 30-2 (.938) mark at home. The Cadets are 3-12 in away tournament games – their win at JWU on Wednesday snapped a five-game losing streak in road postseason tilts.
On Saturday, the Monks and Cadets will face off in the GNAC Championship for the fourth time with St. Joe's owning a 2-1 record in three previous title bouts. Norwich defeated SJC in the 2008 championship, while the Monks prevailed in the 2011 and 2016 matchups.