Junior forward Drew Montano has led Stonehill's improved offense this season with 19 points on seven goals and five assists.
Skyhawks hosting NE-10 playoff game for the first time since 1994 campaign
EASTON, Mass. (November 3, 2014) – Fourth-seeded Stonehill College returns to postseason play for the first time since 2011 tomorrow when it hosts fifth-seeded Merrimack College in the quarterfinal round of the 2014 Northeast-10 Conference men's soccer Championship at Skyhawk Field at 1 p.m.
Admission for tomorrow's game is free. For those that cannot make it to Skyhawk Field, live stats will be available via www.stonehillskyhawks.com.
Stonehill (11-5-1, 9-4-0 NE-10) is making its first appearance in the NE-10 Championship since 2011, when the Skyhawks dropped a 4-0 contest at Franklin Pierce University in the first round. The program is hosting a home NE-10 playoff game for the first time in 20 seasons, as the 1994 squad, featuring current Stonehill head coach Jim Reddish, fell 1-0 to Quinnipiac University in the quarterfinal round. The Skyhawks are 7-11 (.389) all-time in NE-10 Championship play, and the program won back-to-back titles in the 1990 and 1991 seasons.
Merrimack (12-3-2, 8-3-2 NE-10), ranked No. 25 in the most recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Division II Poll, and ranked third in the NCAA East Region, is making its 11th straight trip to the NE-10 Championship. The Warriors are 20-20 (.500) all-time in Championship play, with 13 trips to the semifinals, eight finals appearances, and three titles (1995-97). Merrimack, which was ranked as high as No. 17 in the NSCAA Poll this season, is coming off consecutive runner-up finishes to Southern New Hampshire University in the 2012 and 2013 Championships.
In the only meeting between Stonehill and Merrimack this season, the Warriors posted a 3-0 victory at Martone-Mejail Field in North Andover, Mass. on October 14th. Merrimack has won three straight and five of its last six contests against the Skyhawks dating back to the 2009 season, with Stonehill's only win in that stretch being a 2-1 triumph at Skyhawk Field in 2011. The two teams have met once before in the NE-10 Championship, with the fourth-seeded Warriors earning a 2-1 victory over the fifth-seeded Skyhawks in the 1992 quarterfinal round.
Senior Tyler Brondyk scored twice in Stonehill's 3-2, Senior Day victory over Le Moyne to help the Skyhawks clinch the fourth seed and a home game tomorrow.
Stonehill, which was picked to finish 11th in the NE-10 Preseason Coaches Poll, was able to exceed expectations this season largely due to its improved offense. The Skyhawks, who scored just 13 goals in 16 matches last season en route to a 5-10-1 overall record, have more than doubled that goal total this fall with 34 through 17 matches. Stonehill has scored 3+ goals on eight occasions in 2014 after doing so just once a season ago, and the Skyhawks have only been shut out three times this season compared to eight blankings in 2013. Stonehill is currently riding a season-best four match winning streak dating back to October 18th, and the Skyhawks have won six of seven overall.
Junior forward Drew Montano (Avon, Connecticut/Avon), who led Stonehill in points as both a freshman (13) and sophomore (six), has accomplished the feat again this season with 19 (T-6th in NE-10) on seven goals and five assists. The 2012 NE-10 All-Rookie team selection found the back of the net twice, including the game-winner in double overtime, in Stonehill's 4-3 comeback win at Saint Michael's College last Tuesday.
Senior midfielder Tyler Brondyk (Mansfield, Massachusetts/Mansfield) has also been a consistent offensive threat for the Skyhawks this season with 13 points on five goals and three assists. Brondyk fueled Stonehill's 3-2, come from behind victory over Le Moyne on Senior Day with two goals over the final 24:02 of regulation.
Junior midfielder R.J. Aprile (Carmel, New York/Kennedy Catholic) ranks fourth on the team with ten points on three goals and four assists, while senior back Zane Stanton (Dartmouth, Massachusetts/St. Sebastians) has six points on two goals and a pair of assists. Stanton, who had one career goal entering this season, has scored twice in his last three games, including the game-winner in overtime at Assumption that clinched Stonehill's NE-10 Championship berth, and a penalty kick goal on Tuesday at Saint Michael's.
Stonehill has received solid contributions from its freshmen all season, led by midfielder Connor O'Brien (Guilderland, New York/Guilderland). O'Brien has 12 points on five goals and two assists, while classmate James O'Shea (Quincy, Massachusetts/Quincy) has found the back of the net twice to go with an assist for five points. Freshman forward Trevor Torres' (Swansea, Massachusetts/La Salle Academy) lone goal of the season in the 82nd minute against Franklin Pierce on October 8th lifted Stonehill to its first-ever victory over the Ravens, while freshman back Matthew Gallo (Mendham, New Jersey/West Morris Mendham) has started 16 of 17 matches this fall, recording four points on a goal and two assists.
Junior Luke Besse is 8-2-1 in ten starts this season with a 1.60 goals against average and three shutouts.
Junior goalkeeper Luke Besse (Hamilton, Massachusetts/Hamilton-Wenham Regional) has started ten matches in net for the Skyhawks, posting a 1.60 goals against average and a .667 save percentage in just over 957 minutes of action. Senior Adam Colella (Wilmington, Massachusetts/St. John's Prep) started six games and recorded a 1.83 goals against average after missing the early part of the season, but he hasn't seen action since suffering an injury in Stonehill's 2-1 win against American International College on October 18th.
Merrimack enters tomorrow's contest fresh off a 3-2 loss to Adelphi in its regular season finale last Friday night. The loss was the team's first since October 11th, when the Warriors fell 1-0 at Le Moyne in double overtime. Merrimack won five straight from October 14th-October 28th, including a pair of 3-0 triumphs and a dominant 7-0 victory at American International.
The Warriors boast one of the best goal differentials in the NE-10 this season, with 39 goals scored (2nd in NE-10) and just 16 allowed (3rd in NE-10). Senior goalkeeper Jose Silva (Northborough, Massachusetts/Algonquin Regional) ranks third in the NE-10 with his 0.84 goals against average to go with a .788 save percentage (3rd in NE-10) and seven shutouts (T-2nd in NE-10).
Senior midfielder Michael Rincon (Medford, Massachusetts/Malden) and junior forward Augusto Silva (Hudson, Massachusetts/Hudson) have paced Merrimack offensively this season with 14 points each. Sophomore Alexander Alleyne (Swampscott, Massachusetts/St. Mary's) and freshman Michael Dushman (Bedford, Massachusetts/Bedford) have ten points each on two goals and five assists, while sophomore Oscar Zepeda Cagide (Jalisco, Mexico/Tec Milenio) ranks fifth on the team with nine points on three goals and three assists.
The winner of tomorrow afternoon's match will advance to Friday's semifinal round to take on the winner of the Southern New Hampshire University-American International contest. The defending National Champion Penmen earned the top seed in the NE-10 Championship with their 11-1-1 league record, while the Yellow Jackets finished the regular season in eighth place with a 6-7 conference mark.
2014 Northeast-10 Conference Men's Soccer Championship Schedule
Tuesday, November 4 – Quarterfinals
Match 1: #8 American International at #1 Southern New Hampshire – 7:00 pm
Match 2: #5 Merrimack at #4 Stonehill – 1:00 pm
Match 3: #7 Franklin Pierce at #2 Southern Connecticut – 4:00 pm
Match 4: #6 Le Moyne at #3 Adelphi – 7:30 pm
Friday, November 7 - Semifinals (at high seeds)
Match 5: Winner of Match 1 vs. Winner of Match 2
Match 6: Winner of Match 3 vs. Winner of Match 4
Sunday, November 9 - Championship (at high seed)
Match 7: Match 5 Winner vs. Match 6 Winner – 1:00 p.m.