MEN'S SOCCER WEEKEND PREVIEW - MAAC CHAMPIONSHIP
MONMOUTH MEN’S SOCCER WEEKEND PREVIEW
MAAC Men's Soccer Championship Semifinals
Friday, November 15, 2013
#1 Monmouth (8-6-4, 7-1-2 MAAC) vs. #4 Manhattan (5-10-2, 5-3-2 MAAC)
Location: Lessing Field – Fairfield, Conn.
Kickoff: 4:00 p.m.
Live Video: www.MAAC.tv
Live Stats: www.GoMUHawks.com (Courtesy of the MAAC)
MAAC Championship Tickets (Nov. 15-17 at Fairfield)
The 2013 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Men’s Soccer Championship will be hosted by Fairfield University, Nov. 15 and 17. The Hawks earned the league title in their first year in the MAAC, and a year after their seven-year streak of regular-season conference titles was broken in 2012. After posting a 1-5-2 mark against extremely tough non-conference competition, Monmouth gathered momentum in MAAC play. Following a tie at Fairfield to open the league slate, the Hawks ran off six-straight wins as part of a nine-game unbeaten streak to take the MAAC Regular Season Championship. A year removed from the Bobcats’ first league regular season title since joining Division I in 1998-99, Quinnipiac earned a share of another title with another strong campaign under Head Coach Eric Da Costa. The lone carryover from last year’s MAAC Championship is Iona, which finished the year at 10-6-2 (7-2-1 MAAC). The Gaels feature the league’s top point scorer in Franklin Castellanos (1.71 points per game), as well as Ignacio Maganto (1.17 points per game), who ranks third. Rounding out the tournament field is Manhattan. Under the tutelage of first-year head coach Jorden Scott, the Jaspers put an 0-7 non-conference record behind them to post a 5-3-2 mark in the MAAC to reach the conference championship field of four for the first time since 2001. Monmouth will face Manhattan at 4 p.m., while Quinnipiac and Iona will square off in the nightcap at 7 p.m. The winners of the two semifinal contests will meet in the championship game, to be played Sunday at 1 p.m. Monmouth is 4-1-1 all time against the Jaspers, including a scoreless draw on Oct. 30 at Gaelic Park. The Jaspers won the inaugural contest between the two schools in 1996, after which Monmouth won four straight. Iona and Quinnipiac also played to a scoreless draw to open MAAC play on Oct. 5. All games will be webcast live on MAAC.tv. The winner of the MAAC Championship will receive the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament. First round NCAA action begins November 21 on campus sites. From 2005-2011, the Hawks captured an unprecedented seven straight regular season championships, all under the guidance of Head Coach Robert McCourt. The four-time conference Coach of the Year has taken the program to four conference tournament titles in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and guided the Hawks to the NCAA Tournament Second Round twice. In 2009, MU advanced past UConn on penalty kicks, while again turning the trick on PKs to get past Stony Brook in 2011. The Hawks have maintained a presence in the national rankings for the majority of the last several seasons, including a ranking as high as No. 4 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire National Rankings in 2010.
BREAKING DOWN THE MANHATTAN JASPERS
The Jaspers (5-10-2, 5-3-2 MAAC) are making their first appearance in a four-team conference tournament since 2001. Manhattan is led by Spanish freshman Dan Laguna Kennedy, whose seven goals and 14 points easily lead the team. Eugene Heerschap is next in line with four goals and eight points, while Tommy Amos is the the team leaders in assists with four. Alex Shackley, Daniel Festa, Reese Akers and Dominic Chavez have added two assists apiece, while Shackley has also contributed two goals. Andrew Melitsanopoulos scored twice in a pivotal come-from behind 3-2 win over Marist on Nov. 2. Eli Bunton has a goal and an assist. Alex Coates-McDowall has seen the clear majority of time in net, posting a 1.64 goals-against average and a .696 save percentage.
BREAKING DOWN THE QUINNIPIAC BOBCATS
Quinnipiac (9-4-5, 7-1-2 MAAC) is appearing in its second-straight conference tournament after winning the NEC Regular Season Championship last year. The Bobcats are led by Simon Hinde, who has scored a team-high nine goals. Machel Baker is second on the team in goals (4) and points (10), while Sam Nicol has a team-high four assists to go along with two goals. Freshman James Doig leads the team with three assists. Tobias Esche has chipped in with a goal and two assists, while Ola Ogunjobi has a goal and an assist. Goalkeeper Borja Angoitia, who missed the Oct. 26 match at Monmouth due to injury, has returned to the line-up. On the year, he’s posted a 0.67 goals-against average and a .845 save percentage to go along with seven shutouts.
BREAKING DOWN THE IONA GAELS
The Gaels (10-6-2, 7-2-1 MAAC) make their fifth-consecutive trip to the MAAC Championship, and enter the tournament on a five-game winning streak. Iona is led by Franklin Castellanos, whose nine goals, 13 assists and 31 points are all team highs. Ignacio Maganto is tied with Castellanos for the team lead with nine goals, including a league-best seven in MAAC play, to go along with three assists. Samuel Adjei has also chipped in with four goals and four assists. Jannick Martens has added a goal and an assist, while Michael Holzer has a pair of assists. Julian Petrello has seen the clear majority of time in net for the Gaels, posting a 0.88 goals-against average and an .822 save percentage. Iona’s two losses in league play came to the Hawks and Siena, while their tie came against Quinnipiac.
ALL-TIME VS. MANHATTAN
Monmouth owns a 4-1-1 edge on Manhattan in the all-time series. After falling in the first meeting back in 1996, Monmouth won four straight in 1997, 2005, 2006 and 2007. This season, the two teams played to a scoreless tie at Gaelic Park on Oct. 30.
ALL-TIME VS. QUINNIPIAC
Monmouth is 12-3-2 all-time against Quinnipiac, including an 8-1-2 mark under Robert McCourt against the Bobcats. The lone setback for the Hawks against QU under McCourt came in his first season of 2004. Following that defeat, the Hawks have gone unbeaten in 10 straight games against the Bobcats, including a win in the 2009 NEC Tournament Championship Game. In the 10-game unbeaten stretch, MU has outscored Quinnipiac, 15-2.
ALL-TIME VS. IONA
Monmouth is 10-5 all-time against Iona, with 10 of the meetings coming before 1995. In the last two years, the teams have split a pair of meetings, with the home team winning each time.
RUBBING ELBOWS WITH THE NATION’S BEST
A fixture in the national polls over the last several years, the Hawks opened the season receiving votes in the College Soccer News Preseason Top 30 Poll and received votes in the NSCAA/Continental Tire National Rankings on Nov. 5. Monmouth reached a program-high of the No. 4 ranking in 2010. This week, the Hawks are ranked fourth in the North Atlantic region of the NSCAA/Continental Tire Rankings.
Freshman goalkeeper Eric Klenofsky has posted seven shutouts in 10 starts en route to four-straight MAAC Defensive Player of the Week honors (Oct. 14, 21, 28 and Nov. 4). Since taking over the starting goalkeeper position, Klenofsky has posted an NCAA-leading 0.27 goals-against average and a .880 save percentage (5th-NCAA).
The Hawks’ three seniors connected on perhaps the biggest goal of the year to date for Monmouth, Oct. 26 vs. Quinnipiac. Joseph Schmid played Francois “Paco” Navarro down the right sideline, before Navarro split two defenders into the 18-yard box near the goal line. Navarro then crossed the ball in front to Jacob Rubinstein, who got a toe on the pass for the game-winning goal to hand Quinnipiac its first conference loss of the season.
Senior forward Jacob Rubinstein scored four goals in a span of five games (Oct. 12-26) for the Hawks, including game-winning tallies against Saint Peter’s, Quinnipiac and Rider. Each of the goals broke a scoreless tie. The four goals give Rubinstein the team lead.
THE PENFOLD IS MIGHTIER
Sophomore midfielder Tomas Penfold contributed a three-point game on Oct. 23 against Saint Peter’s, setting up Jacob Rubinstein’s game-winning goal with 16 seconds left in the first half, before putting the game away with a goal of his own late in the second half.
FRESHMEN STEPPING UP
A pair of freshmen scored their first career goals during the weekend of Sept. 20. Dave Nigro got things started with the go-ahead goal in the second half against Albany on Sept. 20, and continued his hot play with goals against Fairfield and Iona. Colin Stripling then scored his first-career goal at Hofstra to spark a comeback bid for the Hawks on Sept. 22 and has added assists against Siena and Rider. Less than a week later, Eric Klenofsky saw his first action in goal on Sept. 28 against Central Connecticut and got the starts in each of the Hawks’ first 10 MAAC contests, spurring the Hawks to an undefeated start (7-0-2). For his efforts in four-consecutive weeks, Klenofsky earned MAAC Defensive Player of the Week honors on Oct. 14, 21, 28 and Nov. 4.
Senior forward Francois “Paco” Navarro assisted on the Hawks’ first goal and scored the game-winner in Monmouth’s 2-1 victory over Siena on Oct. 12. For his efforts, Big Apple Soccer named him its Player of the Week.
RETURN OF THE MAC
Senior midfielder Joseph Schmid (Kingston, Pa./Wyoming Valley West) became the 10th Monmouth player since 2007 to be named to the prestigious MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List, representative of college soccer’s top individual honor. Schmid joins former teammates Ryan Clark (2012), RJ Allen (2011), Max Hamilton (2011) and Anthony Vazquez (2011), as well as Ryan Kinne (2009, 2010), Bryan Meredith (2010), Chase Barbieri (2009) and Tom Gray (2007) as recent Hermann Trophy Watch List honorees from Head Coach Robert McCourt’s program.
The Hawks defeated Villanova on Wednesday, Sept. 11, when Tomas Penfold scored just 37 seconds into overtime off assists from Edney Derrick and Francois “Paco” Navarro. The goal was Penfold’s first of the season, while the win over Villanova was the first in program history after four losses. The most-recent meeting between the two teams prior to this season was in 2002.
WALKING THE PLANK
The Hawks found themselves down a goal with less than a minute left against Seton Hall, but Emmanuel Senyah Agyemang received a David Acuna Camacho cross at the far post and blasted it past Pirates goalkeeper Julian Spindler with 52.5 seconds left for the equalizer. The game would end in a 1-1 tie.