STANDISH, Maine – Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Champion Saint Joseph's College (20-0-0, 11-0-0 GNAC) will face Middlebury College (10-3-3, 6-2-2 NESCAC) at Hitchcock Field on the campus of Amherst College in the first round of the NCAA DIII Men's Soccer Tournament at 1:30 PM on Saturday.
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
Saint Joseph's, the top seed in the 2018 GNAC Tournament, defeated second-seeded Johnson & Wales University, 1-0, in the conference championship game at the SJC Athletics Complex on Sunday. With the triumph, the Monks claimed their third-consecutive berth – via the GNAC's automatic qualifier – into the NCAA Tournament. St. Joe's will be making an appearance in the national tournament for the fifth time.
Middlebury earned an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament after falling to Williams College, 3-1, in a New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) tourney quarterfinal on Saturday, October 27th. The Panthers will be making their 12th NCAA Tournament appearance.
WHAT WE KNOW
- The Monks, ranked fifth and eighth in the latest D3soccer.com and United Soccer Coaches national polls, respectively, head into the NCAA Tournament riding a 41-game undefeated streak – the sixth-longest string in NCAA DIII Men's Soccer history – and have outscored opponents by a collective 77-1 margin this fall
- Saint Joseph's is the only men's soccer team in the nation – NCAA DI, DII, or DIII (828 programs in total) – without a loss or a tie
- Saint Joseph's currently leads NCAA DIII Men's Soccer in save percentage (.970), shots per game (24.60), shots on goal per game (12.55), shutout percentage (.950), goals against average (0.048), and won-lost-tied percentage (1.000) and ranks third in assists per game (2.90), points per game (10.60), scoring offense (3.85), total assists (58), total goals (77), and total points (212)
- The Panthers rank seventh in NCAA DIII Men's Soccer with a 0.472 team goals-against average after yielding just eight goals in 16 games this fall
- Middlebury has recorded nine shutouts this season, including five during the month of October
- The Panthers enter the tournament with an overall record of 11-6-5 in NCAA Tournament play, going 3-2 in games decided by penalty kicks – Middlebury picked up tournament wins in 1996 and 2000, before going 4-0-1 en route to winning the 2007 NCAA Championship
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Senior forward Brett Mattos (Mahopac, N.Y.) - the Monks' all-time leader in goals (50), points (122), and game-winners (18) – leads the team in goals (11) and is tied for the team lead in points (26) and GWG (4)
- Junior midfielder Cody Elliott (Gorham, Maine) leads the team in assists (14) and is tied among the Monks' points leaders with 26
- Junior defender Noah Robinson (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.), who does a bit of everything for the Monks, is tied for the team lead in GWG and has eight goals and 20 total points this fall
- Junior Ben Potter (Evanston, Ill.) leads the team in goals (6) and points (14) to go along with a pair of assists. His goal totals tie him for third in the league, while his points are tied for fourth among his NESCAC peers
- Senior Daniel O'Grady (New York, N.Y.) is a two-time All-NESCAC selection who owns four goals and four assists for 12 points
- Junior Henry Wilhelm (Shaker Heights, Ohio) is second on the team, owning five goals from the back, two of them game-winners
Senior Blake Mullen (Manchester, Conn.) claimed First Team All-GNAC and Goalkeeper of the Year honors for the third-consecutive season after nearly duplicating his junior season after which he garnered All-America acclaim. In 18 starts and 1,449 minutes, the senior keeper has allowed just one goal with 24 saves and leads the country in goals-against average (0.06) and save percentage (.960). He is the NCAA Men's Soccer (all-levels) active leader in career save percentage (.906) and goals-against average (0.244) and ranks second among active goalies in solo shutouts (36).
Sophomore Matthew Hyer (Sudbury, Mass.) is also enjoying a fine season with a 10-3-3 record, seven shutouts, a 0.49 goals-against average, and an .843 save percentage after making 43 saves and giving up just eight goals in 1,474 minutes. The first-year starter has logged all but 53 of his team's minutes in goal this fall and allowed more than one goal in a game just once this season.
ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:
Saint Joseph's Head Coach Adrian Dubois, now in his fifth season as the Monks' sideline general, owns a 70-24-9 (.680) career record, including a 37-9-2 (.771) mark in GNAC play and is the winningest coach in SJC men's soccer history.
Under his watch, Saint Joseph's has evolved from a 5-15-0 team in 2014 to a nationally-ranked program. Last fall, Dubois helped lead the Monks to their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory, a 2-1 triumph over Mitchell College, and a 19-0-2 final record after falling to reigning national champion Tufts University in PK's in the second round.
Middlebury Head coach Alex Elias is in his first season at the helm of the men's soccer program. Captain of the 2007 National Championship team, he has led the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament with a 10-3-3 mark in 2018.
These two teams will be meeting for the first time on Saturday.
The Monks and Panthers share two common opponents: Norwich University and Bowdoin College. St. Joe's tipped Bowdoin, 1-0, on September 9th and blanked GNAC-rival Norwich, 3-0, on October 10th. Middlebury and Norwich dueled to a 0-0 stalemate in what was the season-opener for both teams on September 4th and suffered a 1-0 loss at the hands of Bowdoin on September 22nd.