STANDISH, Maine – Second-seeded Saint Joseph's College (16-1-3) will play at #1 Johnson & Wales University (16-2-2) in the 2019 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Men's Soccer Championship on Saturday at 1:00 PM. The title tilt is a rematch of the 2018 GNAC Championship, which the Monks won by a 1-0 score.
HOW THEY GOT HERE:
The Monks advanced to the GNAC Championship game for the fourth-consecutive season after tipping #7 Emmanuel College, 2-1, in the quarterfinal round and fighting past #3 Norwich University, 3-2, in the semifinals on Wednesday evening.
The Wildcats narrowly escaped elimination in the first round of the tournament, as #8 Lasell University and JWU were tied 1-1 after regulation and a pair of overtime frames. The Wildcats prevailed in PK's however and went on to cruise past #4 University of Saint Joseph by a 3-1 score in the semifinals on Wednesday.
Quarterfinals - Saturday, November 2 (at high seeds)
Match 1: #1 JWU def. #8 Lasell, 1-1 PK Home - BOX
Match 2: #4 USJ def. #5 Albertus Magnus, 1-0 - BOX
Match 3: #3 Norwich def. #6 Colby-Sawyer, 1-0 - BOX
Match 4: #2 Saint Joseph's def. #7 Emmanuel, 2-1 - BOX
Semifinals - Wednesday, November 6 (at high seeds)
Match 5: #1 JWU def. #4 USJ, 3-1 - BOX
Match 6: #2 Saint Joseph's def. #3 Norwich, 3-2 - BOX
Championship - Saturday, November 9
Match 7: #2 Saint Joseph's @ #1 Johnson & Wales, 1:00 PM
The GNAC champion earns an automatic berth into the 2019 NCAA DIII Men's Soccer Tournament, which begins on Saturday, November 16th.
LAST TIME OUT:
In an evenly matched semifinal on Wednesday, the Monks managed to outlast the visiting Cadets with a pair of second-half goals from Jackson Taylor (Gorham, Maine) and Noah Elmore (Berlin, Vt.). Senior Cody Elliott (Gorham, Maine) opened the SJC scoring with a 38th-minute strike. Junior keeper David Walbridge (Hampden, Mass.) made four saves in the thrilling victory.
Johnson & Wales put the visiting Blue Jays away early with three goals in the first 12 minutes of play, as senior Riley Spotton (Ronkonkoma, N.Y.) hit pay dirt at the 5:35 mark and sophomore JP Rioux (Stony Point, N.Y.) struck twice in less than two minutes to essentially put the game out of reach. Junior netminder Austin Scoggin (Cutchogue, N.Y.) registered seven saves in the JWU triumph.
FACTS & FIGURES:
- The Monks lead the conference in goals against average (0.48), fewest goals allowed (10), shutouts (13), goals (53), corner kicks (152), shots (412), shots per game (20.6), shots on goal (194), and assists (41)
- Saint Joseph's is 7-0-2 in away games this fall
- The Monks' 1-0 setback at the hands of WPI on October 21st brought an end to several of the Monks' lengthy undefeated streaks, as the loss halted a 65-game (59-0-6) regular-season undefeated streak, which included a string of 38-consecutive (34-0-4) home games without a loss
- Including GNAC tournament contests, the Monks are riding a 52-game undefeated streak versus conference foes – the team's last loss to a GNAC team was a 2-1 quarterfinal setback to Albertus Magnus on November 1st, 2015
Johnson & Wales University:
- The Wildcats lead the GNAC in shot percentage (.170) and rank second in goals (52), assists (40), goals against average (0.68), fewest goals allowed (14), and shutouts
- Johnson & Wales is 9-0-2 at home this season and heads into the title bout riding a 15-game undefeated streak at the Scots Miracle Gro Complex
- JWU is undefeated in their last 16 games with a 14-0-2 record since falling to Roger Williams, 4-1, on September 14th
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
- Senior midfielder Mitchell Duncan (Sanford, Maine) leads the team with 19 points off seven goals and five assists
- Senior defender Noah Robinson (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.) has tallied a team-high eight goals with 17 points
- Sophomore Austin Ward (North Andover, Mass.) is third on the side with 16 points (7G-2A)
Johnson & Wales University:
- The Wildcats feature perhaps the best one-two offensive punch in the conference this fall, as Nick Gutekunst (East Northport, N.Y.) has 34 points (13G, 8A) and Rioux has tallied 32 points (13G, 6A) - totals that rank third and fourth in the GNAC, respectively; both players are sophomores
- Freshman Garrett Groeling (Nutley, N.J.) has contributed four goals and four assists for 12 total points
Saint Joseph's: Walbridge is 15-1-3 with a 0.44 goals against average and seven shutouts in 19 starts as a first-year starter. He has allowed just eight goals with 37 saves in 1,648 minutes for an .822 save percentage and currently leads the conference in goals against average and ranks second in fewest goals allowed, shutouts, and save percentage.
Johnson & Wales: Scoggin is 14-2-2 with a 0.79 goals against average and seven shutouts in 18 starts this fall. With 14 goals allowed and 57 saves in 1,598 minutes, the junior keeper sports an .803 save percentage and is tied for the league lead in shutouts while ranking second in wins and third in minutes, goals against average, and save percentage.
ATTITUDE REFLECTS LEADERSHIP:
Saint Joseph's Head Coach Will Pike '11 is in the midst of his first season at the helm after serving as an assistant for five years (2012, 2015-18). In his last four years on staff – three as the Monks' top assistant and this fall as the skipper – St. Joe's has posted a 71-4-11 (.826) overall record – including a 37-0-4 (.903) mark in GNAC play.
David Kulik became the head men's soccer coach at Johnson & Wales University in April of 2012. In his career at JWU, the team has posted an impressive 111-34-20 (.673) record – including a 59-12-7 (.756) mark in conference play, won two GNAC regular season championships (2014, 2015) as well as three GNAC tournament championships (2013, 2014, 2015).
THE LAST TIME WE MET:
The Monks and Wildcats last met on Saturday, October 26th with the final result being a 0-0 stalemate after 110 minutes of play. St. Joe's possessed the ball for the better part of the game and outshot JWU by a 20-7 margin with an 8-3 lead in corner kicks, but the Wildcats – knowing that a tie would likely secure them the top seed in the tourney – focused on defending and the strategy worked.
Walbridge made four saves on the afternoon while Scoggin turned away eight shots in the deadlock.
Saint Joseph's is 11-7-1 all-time versus Johnson & Wales University and has not suffered a setback to the Wildcats since falling by a 3-2 score on October 17th, 2015. The Monks have not yielded a goal to the Wildcats in the last 278 minutes and 40 seconds of play between the two teams.
The Monks have advanced to the GNAC Tournament every season since the College joined the conference in the fall of 2007. Saint Joseph's is 19-7 in GNAC postseason play with GNAC Championships in 2009, 2011, 2016, 2017, and 2018.
The Wildcats have appeared in the GNAC Tournament every season since Coach Kulik arrived in 2012 and, including the two wins last week, have a 14-3-2 record in postseason contests over the last eight years. JWU won GNAC Championships in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Saturday's GNAC Tournament meeting between the Monks and Wildcats will be the sixth since Saint Joseph's joined the conference in 2007. In four quarterfinal meetings, SJC defeated JWU in 2008 (1-0) and 2009 (3-0) and suffered losses to the Wildcats in 2007 (4-3) and 2014 (2-0). The Monks edged the Wildcats in the 2018 GNAC Championship by a 1-0 score.