HADLEY, Mass. – The race for the top seed in the 2012 NESCAC Men’s Soccer Championship came down to the final day of the regular season, with Williams edging out Amherst by virtue of a coin flip to secure home field advantage throughout the tournament. The Ephs will have a home game in Saturday’s quarterfinals along with Amherst, Wesleyan and Tufts. The highest remaining seed following Saturday’s action will host the semifinals and final from November 3-4.
Longtime rivals Williams and Amherst finished the regular season in a dead heat with matching 8-0-2 records. The teams both tied Wesleyan and played to a scoreless draw in their meeting on September 6. After exhausting all other tiebreaking procedures used by the conference, a coin flip was needed to determine final seeding.
Williams (12-0-2, 8-0-2 NESCAC) will be looking for its league-best seventh NESCAC title and first since 2009, when it needed overtime to top Middlebury 2-1 in the championship. Up first for the Ephs will be a scrappy Connecticut College (5-3-6, 1-3-6 NESCAC) squad that racked up six ties this season. The Camels closed out the regular season with a 3-0 loss to Amherst but had already locked in a playoff spot. Williams cruised to a 3-0 win when the two teams met on September 23. The Ephs also downed the Camels 3-0 to kick off their title run in 2009.
Defending champion Amherst (12-0-2, 8-0-2 NESCAC) enjoyed a dominant regular season in which it outscored its opponents 43-2. The Lord Jeffs will be searching for their third conference crown after ending the regular season with a 3-0 win over Connecticut College this afternoon. Their opening round match will be against a familiar foe in seventh seeded Middlebury (6-6-1, 3-6-1 NESCAC). The two teams have met seven times in the 12-year history of the tournament, with Middlebury owning a slight 4-3 advantage. The Panthers will be eyeing their fourth conference title and first since 2010, when they defeated Bowdoin on penalty kicks. Amherst took the regular season matchup by a score of 2-0 on September 23.
Third seeded Wesleyan (8-3-3, 6-2-2 NESCAC) enters the tournament with high aspirations after going toe-to-toe with both Williams and Amherst during the regular season. The Cardinals, who took home top honors in 2005, will look to rebound from their heartbreaking 3-2 setback to seventh seeded Middlebury in last years quarterfinals. They locked up the third seed with a 2-1 triumph over Trinity (5-5-4, 3-5-2 NESCAC) this afternoon. The two teams will meet again in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Trinity had its best tournament run a year ago, finishing as runner-up to Amherst.
The remaining quarterfinal will also be a rematch of a regular season finale, as fourth seeded Tufts (8-3-3, 5-2-3) and fifth seeded Bowdoin (8-4-2, 4-4-2 NESCAC) will square off for the second time in four days. The Jumbos (8-3-3, 5-2-3 NESCAC) earned the right to host for the first time since 2001 with their 2-1 win over the Polar Bears this afternoon. Bowdoin will be returning to the postseason after a one-year hiatus. The Polar Bears were the number one seed in 2010 and advanced to the championship before falling to Middlebury in penalty kicks. Both sides are in search of their first conference crown.
Results for the NESCAC Men’s Soccer Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.