GNAC Semifinal Preview: #4 Simmons @ #1 Saint Joseph's

GNAC Semifinal Preview: #4 Simmons @ #1 Saint Joseph's

STANDISH, Maine – Top-seeded Saint Joseph's College (17-1, 7-0 GNAC) will host #4 Simmons University (7-11, 4-3 GNAC) in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Field Hockey Tournament Quarterfinal at the SJC Athletics Complex on Wednesday, October 31st at 7:00 PM.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

After claiming the top seed in the GNAC Tournament for the third time in the last five seasons, Saint Joseph's earned a first-round bye.

Simmons hosted #5 Johnson & Wales University in a tourney quarterfinal and defeated the Wildcats by a 2-0 score in Boston on Friday, October 26th.

Wednesday's matchup features the only two teams who have won GNAC Championships. Simmons claimed the crown in 2014 and 2015 and Saint Joseph's captured the title in 2016 and 2017. The GNAC began sponsoring field hockey in 2014.

WHAT'S NEXT?

The winner of Wednesday's semifinal advances to the GNAC Championship and will face the victor of the #2 Lasell College / #3 Colby-Sawyer College with the highest remaining seed serving as the host on Saturday.

The GNAC champion earns an automatic qualifier into the NCAA DIII Tournament, which begins on Wednesday, November 7th.

SEASON AT A GLANCE:

Saint Joseph's:

  • The Monks are enjoying the finest season in program history and have set new SJC single-season records for wins, goals (84), assists (67), points (235), shots (435), and shutouts (11) 
  • Saint Joseph's ranks among the NCAA DIII leaders in assists per game (1st, 3.67), penalty corners per game (2nd, 14.22), points per game (2nd, 13.0), scoring margin (2nd, 4.00), goals per game (3rd, 4.67), winning percentage (3rd, .944), scoring average (4th, 4.61), shutouts per game (6th, 0.61), save percentage (7th, .845), and goals-against average (8th, 0.60)
  • St. Joe's enters the tournament riding a 10-game winning streak and has not suffered a loss at the hands of a GNAC opponent since falling to Lasell, 2-1, on October 7th, 2017 (11 games)

Simmons:

  • In the conference stats rankings, the Sharks are second in shot percentage (.219), third in defensive saves (8), fourth in goals (44), and fifth in assists (25)
  • Simmons goes into the semifinal having won three of the last four games, all versus conference foes
  • The Sharks have outscored their opponents by a 44-36 margin this fall, but 19 of their goals came in one game: a 19-0 blowout win over Albertus Magnus College on September 12th; Simmons tied an NCAA record with the scoring output

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Saint Joseph's:

  • Junior forward Libby Pomerleau (Limerick, Maine) leads the Monks in goals (17), total points (40) and game-winning goals (5) and is second in shots (67) and fifth in assists (6); the reigning GNAC Offensive Player of the Year has garnered a pair of GNAC Player of the Week honors this fall
  • Freshman forward Emma Rutledge (Alfred, Maine) leads the team in shots (88) and shots on goal (65) and ranks second on the squad in goals (13), assists (13) and points (39); she has been named as the GNAC Rookie of the Week twice this season
  • Sophomore midfielder Alexandra Belaire (Greene, Maine) is currently third on the team in goals (10), assists (10), points (30) and shots on goal (35) and fourth in shots (49); Belaire has also earned two GNAC Player of the Week awards this fall

Simmons:

  • Freshman midfielder Emily Plummer (San Diego, Calif.) leads the Sharks in goals (11), points (24), shots (41), and shots on goal (29)
  • Sophomore forward Lily D'Anna (Woodstock, Vt.) leads the team in game-winning goals (3) and ranks second in goals (8) and points (16) and third in shots on goal (15)
  • Sophomore midfielder Liz Poteat (Westfield, Mass.) ranks third in goals (7) and points (14)

KEEPER COMPARISON:

Saint Joseph's:

Senior Megan Baker (Gorham, Maine), a two-time All-GNAC honoree and 2016 GNAC Goalkeeper of the Year, is in the midst of perhaps the finest season ever recorded by an SJC netminder. This fall, she is 17-1 with seven shutouts and ranks fourth in the country in save percentage (.869) and seventh in goals-against average (0.51). The Monks' career leader in wins (55) and shutouts (28) is second among active NCAA DIII goalies in shutout percentage (39.3%) and fourth in victories and GAA (0.87) and seventh in GK minutes (4891:15).

Simmons:

Sophomore Lucy McNamara (Brewster, Mass.), the 2017 GNAC Rookie of the Year, is 7-10 with a pair of shutouts and leads the conference in saves (91). She also ranks fourth in the GNAC in GAA (1.99) and fifth in save percentage (.734).

ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:

Saint Joseph's Head Coach Rupert Lewis, in his 14th season as the Monks' skipper is 173-88 (.662) with a 29-3 (.906) record in GNAC play over the last five seasons. Under his watch the Monks have won consecutive GNAC Championships (2016, 2017) with a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2016, Saint Joseph's advanced to the NCAA 'Sweet 16' with an opening round victory over Montclair State University, which was ranked 10th nationally at the time.

Amanda Arpé has directed the Simmons Field Hockey program for eight seasons and has racked up an 89-81 (.524) with a 24-8 (.750) mark in GNAC play. She guided the Sharks to GNAC Championships in 2014 and 2015, with the 2014 title propelling the Sharks to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history.

THE LAST TIME WE MET:

The Monks topped Simmons 4-0 in the regular season matchup on in Standish on September 22nd. Belaire paced the offense with a goal and two assists while Baker made three saves in the shutout victory.

McNamara turned away eight shots in the losing effort.

Saint Joseph's held the lead in shots (17-5), shots on goal (13-3), and penalty corners (11-6) in the victory.

HISTORICALLY SPEAKING:

Saint Joseph's is 19-8 in the history of the series with Simmons and has defeated the Sharks in five-consecutive meetings, a streak that began during the 2016 campaign.

POSTSEASON HISTORY:

The Monks have never missed the postseason in 11 years as a member of a conference and have advanced to the conference championship game seven times in the last ten years. Saint Joseph's edged Simmons, 1-0, in the 2016 GNAC Championship, claiming the first conference crown in program history, and proceeded to defeat #10 Montclair State in the NCAA Tournament later that fall.

The Sharks claimed the first two GNAC Field Hockey Championship titles (GNAC began sponsoring the sport in 2014) with a 3-1 win over Anna Maria College in the 2014 title game and a 1-0 triumph over Saint Joseph's in 2015.

The last time these two squads met in the postseason was the 2017 GNAC semifinal when Saint Joseph's blanked Simmons, 5-0, at the SJC Athletics Complex. Pomerleau scored a pair of goals in the convincing victory, as the Monks posted considerable advantages in shots (25-4), shots on goal (22-2), and penalty corners (17-5) that afternoon.

 

#GOMONKS

 

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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.