Skyhawks have been strong down the stretch on the way to their first postseason appearance in over a decade
EASTON, Mass. (November 1, 2010) – Seventh-seeded Stonehill College will visit second-seeded Southern Connecticut State University, currently ranked fourth in the Division II East Regional poll by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), in Tuesday’s quarterfinal round of the Northeast-10 Conference men’s soccer championships. The game will kick off at Southern Connecticut’s Jess Dow Field at 4 p.m.
Admission will be $5 for adults, $3 for seniors and children, and $1 for students of Northeast-10 member institutions.
Brandon McFarlane put up three straight shutouts down the stretch when the Skyhawks needed them most.
Stonehill (7-7-2, 5-6-2 NE-10) will make their first playoff appearance since 1999, when they fell in the first round to Bentley University the year before the conference expanded to 14 members. Southern Connecticut (12-2-2, 9-2-2 NE-10) was the NE-10 runner-up last season and earned a bid to the NCAA tournament, where they dropped the opening game to Southern New Hampshire University in a penalty shootout.
In their final three games of the regular season, when a loss would have knocked them out of playoff contention, the Skyhawks posted a 2-0-1 record and did not allow a goal. Last Saturday, they toppled regionally-ranked Le Moyne College in a 2-0 upset behind a goal and an assist from senior Todd Shigo (Naples, Maine/Lake Region), a goal from junior Michael White (Lisbon, N.H./Lisbon Regional), and a shutout performance from senior goalkeeper Brandon McFarlane (Norwich, Conn./Norwich Free Academy). After a scoreless double-overtime draw at Saint Michael’s College on Tuesday kept them in the playoff chase, the Skyhawks needed a win at The College of Saint Rose on Friday to clinch a playoff berth, and dispatched the Golden Knights 2-0 with two saves from McFarlane and a goal apiece from White and sophomore Anthony Campagnano (Schenectady, N.Y./Guilderland).
Stonehill and Southern Connecticut matched up in a regular-season contest in September, a game the Owls won 1-0 on an 82nd-minute score by sophomore Seth Ragaini (Seymour, Conn./Seymour). McFarlane played a strong second half, making four late saves as Southern Connecticut turned up the pressure, but the offense couldn’t connect against junior goalkeeper Andrew Esposito (East Haven, Conn./East Haven).
Michael White has powered the Skyhawks' offense with
a conference-leading nine goals and 22 points.
McFarlane stands seventh in the NE-10 with a goals against average of 1.17 and is tied for third with six shutouts, posting career-best marks in both categories and putting up three of those shutouts down the stretch in the final week of the season. White wraps up the regular season tied for first in the NE-10 with nine goals, and as the sole leader in points with 22. He leads the Skyhawks’ offensive attack alongside senior Michael Bridges (Sandwich, Mass./Sandwich), who tallied three goals and an assist this season, and Campagnano, who recorded two goals and three assists.
Shigo has a goal and four assists as the midfield leader, and a strong back line including sophomores Kristopher Brassard (Barre, Vt./Tilton School) and Kevin Wendth (Slingerlands, N.Y./Bethlehem), junior Christopher Agan (Niskayuna, N.Y./Christian Brothers Academy), and seniors Ethan Bates (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand) and Kevin Moroney (Medway, Mass./Medway) has clamped down in support of McFarlane to hold opponents to just five shots on goal over the final week of the regular season. The Skyhawks rank sixth in the NE-10 in team goals against average at 1.21, and seventh in the conference with six shutouts.
The Owls counter with a pair of midfield threats in sophomore Ross McGibney (Dublin, Ireland/Staples), with eight goals and an assist on the year, and senior Victor Hernandez (Rye Brook, N.Y./Portchester), who has tallied four goals and nine assists, including one in the teams’ September matchup. Freshmen Jon Eckford (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee) and Matt Glodack (Bradenton, Fla./The Pendleton School) and junior Jeremy Tavares (Waterbury, Conn./Sacred Heart) anchor the defense in front of Esposito, who ranks second in the NE-10 in save percentage at .892 and third in goals against average with a mark of 0.62.
Stonehill last won an NE-10 playoff game in 1991, when they captured their second consecutive conference championship as the tournament’s third seed. The winner of tomorrow’s matchup will advance to Friday’s semifinal to face the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between third-seeded Bentley University and sixth-seeded University of New Haven.
The Northeast-10 Conference championship match will be played Sunday at the site of the highest remaining seed.
2010 Northeast-10 Conference Men’s Soccer Championship
Match 1: #8 Merrimack at #1 Franklin Pierce
Match 2: #7 Stonehill at #2 Southern Connecticut
Match 3: #6 New Haven at #3 Bentley
Match 4: #5 Southern New Hampshire at #4 Le Moyne
Friday, November 5
Semifinals - at Higher Seed
Match 5: Match 1 Winner vs. Match 4 Winner
Match 6: Match 2 Winner vs. Match 3 Winner
Sunday, November 7
Championship – at Higher Seed
Match 7: Match 5 Winner vs. Match 6 Winner