Somerset, NJ -- With the regular season now in the books, the top four teams are set for the 2011 Northeast Conference Men’s Soccer Championship Tournament, slated to begin this weekend on Friday, Nov. 11 in Fairfield, CT. Hosted by top-seed Sacred Heart, all four teams will be in action on Friday with a chance to play in Sunday’s title match on the line. All games will be played at Fairfield University.
The top-seeded Pioneers will square off with No. 4 Fairleigh Dickinson at 11:00 am, while Central Connecticut, the No. 2 seed, entertains third-seeded Monmouth at 1:30 pm. The winners will then play for the title and the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, set to begin on Thursday, Nov. 17 at campus sites.
Tickets will be available the day of the event at the host site. Ticket prices are $6 for adults, $3 from senior citizens and children between the ages of 11-18. Children under the age of 11 and NEC students with an institutional I.D. will be admitted free.
In a season in which the regular season title was not decided until the final weekend, three teams finished in a tie for first with 21 points apiece and were crowned tri-champions. The Pioneers earned the right to host this year’s tournament due to the head-to-head tiebreaker, taking regular-season decisions over the No. 2 Blue Devils and No. 3 Hawks. FDU finished in the fourth outright with 20 points.
The hottest team in the conference right now, Sacred Heart (10-4-4, 6-1-3 NEC) enters the four-team tournament on a nine-game unbeaten streak (5-0-4). Led by head coach Joe Barroso, the Pioneers bounced back from a 1-0 setback to Saint Francis (PA) in early October and have run the table ever since, outscoring opponents 13-5 while posting four shutouts. Junior Marcello Castro (Parana, Brazil/Centro Universitario Maringa) has played exceptional in his team’s run to the postseason. A 2010 All-Americcan, he ranks second on the team in scoring with 13 points and has helped his defense hold the opposition to just 13 goals, a mark that ranks third in the NEC. Junior Justin Brewer (Somers, CT/Somers) has orchestrated the offense with a team-high 14 points, five of which came last weekend when he netted both game-winners in a pair of must-win games to earn the final adidas/NEC Player of the Week award of the season.
Central Connecticut State (10-8-0, 7-3-0 NEC) makes its first appearance in the NEC Tournament since 2007 and hopes to rekindle some of that postseason magic from the past. In head coach Shaun Green’s last trip to the postseason, the Blue Devils won the tournament title for the first time and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, where they defeated 15th-ranked Harvard and ninth-ranked Tulsa to finish in the round of 16. Catching up to now, this year’s Blue Devil squad looks to hoist the NEC Trophy with a variety of scoring threats. Four players have at least eight points on the season, led by junior Reece Wilson (London, England/William Carey). Wilson led the Blue Devils in scoring this season with six goals and 15 points after transferring to CCSU following two seasons at NAIA William Carey. The third-year player put on consistent performances throughout the season, scoring in six different games. He is currently on a three-game scoring streak highlighted by a one-goal, one-assist performance in a 2-1 overtime win over FDU.
Tournament-regular and two-time defending champion Monmouth (13-5-0, 7-3-0 NEC) looks to make the coaches’ predictions right after being tabbed first in this year’s preseason poll. Under the direction of head coach Robert McCourt, who earned his 100th career victory in West Long Branch in a win over Mount St. Mary’s last weekend, the Hawks have been a defensive juggernaut in the NEC, ranking first in goals allowed (10), goals against average (0.55) and shutouts (12). Previous all-league picks RJ Allen (Old Bridge, NJ/St. Joseph’s) and Anthony Vazquez (Belford, NJ/St. John’s) have led that defensive effort, while moving up field, Ryan Clark (Freehold, NJ/Freehold Township) and Max Hamilton (Medford, NJ/Shawnee) contributed to it as well from the midfield position. Clark also leads the offense with a league-high eight assists and 14 points, followed by freshman Kalle Sotka (Helsinki, Finland/Makelanrinteen Sports), who has four goals and 10 points to his first-year resume.
Fairleigh Dickinson (10-4-3, 6-2-2 NEC) rounds out this year’s tournament field, qualifying for the fourth straight season. Under head coach Seth Roland’s guidance, the Knights have proved to be one of the highest scoring teams in the conference this season. Led by NJIT-transfer Jack McVey (Douglass, Isle of Man / St. Ninian’s School), FDU ranked first in goals (24) and goals per game (1.41) and second in attempts (14.61). McVey accounted for seven of those Somerset, NJ – With the regular season now in the books, the top four teams are set for the 2011 Northeast Conference Men’s Soccer Championship Tournament, slated to begin this weekend on Friday, Nov. 11 in Fairfield, CT. Hosted by top-seed Sacred Heart, all four teams will be in action on Friday with a chance to play in Sunday’s title match on the line. All games will be played at Fairfield University.goals while accumulating the third-most points in the conference with 18. Along with leading the team in points, goals and assists, he also ranked first in game-winning goals with four, including one that sealed a 2-1 win over Princeton in overtime.