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Men's Soccer NCAA Sectional Preview
The York College men’s soccer team is making their second consecutive appearance in the Sectional round of the NCAA tournament. The Spartans are set to travel to Middlebury, VT over the weekend where the tournament’s Sweet 16 and Elite 8 matches will be held. Middlebury College is the host institution and will be joined by York, Amherst, and Williams.
The Spartans (21-2) make the 470-mile journey to the “Green Mountain State” after defeating Dickinson and Eastern last weekend in Hoboken, NJ. In their 3-1 victory over Dickinson, a trio of Spartans scored as Ryan Eaton, Jason Mancuso, and Mike O’Connell netted tallies for the green and white. Against Eastern on Sunday, York needed double-overtime to get past the Eagles 2-1. After being down since the ten-minute mark, Mike Whalen recorded the equalizer in the 64th minute. With just under four minutes left before penalty-kicks, O’Connell headed home the game winner to send the Spartans into the Sweet 16. The sophomore forward had big weekend for the green and white tallying a pair of goals to go along with one assist.
Capital Athletic Conference Player-of-the-Year Jon Ports continues to pace the Spartan attack as he has registered 46 points on 15 goals and 16 assists. Mancuso has 14 goals and seven assists while Wheeler has notched eleven scores and eleven helpers. O’Connell jumps up York’s scoring ranks with a season total of seven goals to go along with a pair of assists.
Amherst, the Spartans’ opponent in the Sweet 16 match, sports a sparkling 15-2 record. Having received a first round bye in the NCAA tournament, the Jeffs topped Western New England College 3-2 to advance to the Sweet 16. Amherst tied the game at two with just under ten minutes remaining before Taylor Downs provided the game winner in the final minute of regulation.
Spreading out the scoring responsibilities, the Jeffs have seven players that have recorded at least three goals. Jeff Dukar leads the squad with 19 points on eight goals and three assists. First team all-conference forward Taylor Downs has tallied seven scores and distributed four helpers. Ryan O’Donnell ranks third with five goals and five assists.
Middlebury, the New England Small College Athletic Conference champion, has posted an impressive 15-2-1 mark. The Panthers defeated fellow pod member Amherst 1-0 on November 4 to claim the title. Earning a first round bye in the NCAA tournament, Middlebury blasted Wheaton (Mass.) 5-0 to advance to the Sweet 16. Casey Ftorek registered a hat trick scoring the Panther’s first three goals while David LaRocca and Jake Edwards added the final two tallies.
Ftorek, a first team All-NESCAC forward, leads his squad with 34 points on 15 goals and four assists. Stephan Hart is the Panthers’ second leading scorer netting five goals and three assists. Junior goalkeeper Brian Bush is also a first team All-NESCAC selection and has produced a clean sheet on nine different occasions.
Williams, the pods’ third NESCAC member, makes a familiar trip to Vermont to take on Middlebury in the Sweet 16 round. Carrying a 12-4-2 record, the Ephs blanked Eastern Connecticut State 2-0 in their first round match. Williams then edged Keene State 2-1 to advance to this weekend’s sectionals. Defeating Eastern Connecticut last Saturday, the Ephs received goals from Mike Darling and Ryan Pelletier to secure the victory. On Sunday, Williams came from behind as Conor Smith tallied twice to vault his squad to the Sweet 16.
Darling, Smith and Pelletier lead the Ephs in scoring as the trio has recorded 35 of the team’s 83 points this season. Darling is the points leader registering four goals and five assists for 13 points, while Smith leads the Ephs in goals scored tallying five on the year. Pelletier has found the back of the net four times and distributed three assists. Sam Empson has also reached double-digits in points on four goals and two assists.
The NCAA Sectionals begin Saturday, November 17 as Middlebury is set to take on NESCAC foe Williams at 11:00 am. The York/Amherst game will follow 40 minutes after the conclusion of the first match at approximately 1:30 pm. On Sunday, the winners will face one another for the right to advance to the NCAA Division III Final Four at Disney’s Wide World of Sports near Orlando, FL.
Tickets are available at the gate and are priced at $6 for
adults and $3 for students.