Williams Earns Top Seed for Second-Straight Year
HADLEY, Mass. - Defending NESCAC champion Williams College has earned the number-one seed for the 2008 NESCAC Women’s Soccer Championship. The Ephs join Amherst, Middlebury and Tufts in hosting a quarterfinal contest on Sunday, Nov. 2 at 12:30 p.m., as the championship format has changed for 2008 from a seven-team field with the top seed earning a first round bye to an eight-team tournament. The highest remaining seed after the quarterfinals will earn the right to host the semifinals and championship on Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 8-9.
Williams (13-0-1, 8-0-1 NESCAC) edged out rival Amherst for the top spot in this year’s championship thanks to a 1-0 victory over Middlebury on the final day of the regular season. The Ephs will host eighth-seeded Colby (5-8-1, 2-6-1 NESCAC), after the Mules earned a thrilling overtime win over Bates on Friday afternoon to clinch the final spot in the playoffs and snap an eight-game winless streak in the process (0-7-1). Colby may be in for an uphill climb on Sunday at Williams. The Mules’ offense has only scored four goals in their last nine games, while the Eph defense leads the league in goals against, surrendering six in 14 outings and only one goal in their last six contests. In conference play this season, Williams claimed a 1-0 victory at Colby on Oct. 19. Sunday’s meeting will only be the second between Colby and Williams in postseason history. During the first round of the 2006 tournament, the fifth-seeded Mules edged Williams 2-1.
Although Amherst (9-1-3, 7-0-2 NESCAC) fell short in its quest for the number-one seed, the Jeffs were guaranteed a finish no worse than second in the NESCAC standings heading into the final week. Since dropping the first game of the season at the College of New Jersey, second-seeded Amherst has gone undefeated with a 9-0-3 record and capped the regular season with a 3-0 victory at Trinity. The Jeffs will have the league’s top offense at their disposal on Sunday when they host seventh-seeded Wesleyan (7-5-1, 3-5-1 NESCAC). The Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over Connecticut College on Friday afternoon. The only meeting of the regular season went the way of Amherst on Oct. 18, 4-1 in Middletown, Conn. While Wesleyan has already made history by reaching the tournament for the first time ever, the Cardinals will look to take it a step further in the quarterfinals. The Jeffs have exited the playoffs in each of their last three first round appearances, twice as the number-two seed.
Third-seeded Middlebury (7-5-2, 6-3-0 NESCAC) knew entering the final week of the regular season that it had secured a home contest in the quarterfinals. Although the Panthers lost 1-0 at Williams on Friday afternoon, they were guaranteed the third seed after Tufts overcame Bowdoin earlier in the day. The only team to reach the semifinals in each of the last two years, Middlebury will look to advance once again on Sunday against sixth-seeded Trinity (9-5-0, 4-5-0 NESCAC). The Bantams were streaky throughout the regular season, winning their first four games before dropping four conference games in a row, only to bounce back into the playoff picture by winning five consecutive games. In the lone match between these two quarterfinal opponents, Middlebury came away with a 2-1 win at home on Oct. 7, the last loss Trinity had suffered until its regular season finale setback to Amherst on Friday, 3-0. The Panthers and the Bantams have faced each other only once in the postseason with Middlebury earning a 2-1 win in the first round of the 2001 championship.
The final first round match-up will feature two teams familiar with one another - fourth-seeded Tufts (8-5-0, 5-4-0 NESCAC) against fifth-seeded Bowdoin (7-4-3, 4-3-2 NESCAC). The Jumbos bounced back from a 1-0 halftime deficit by scoring two goals in the second half en route to a 2-1 victory on Friday, a victory that gave them the necessary head-to-head tie-breaker over the Polar Bears after the two teams finished the season tied in the standings. Tufts started the season at 5-0 without allowing a goal before having to battle through injuries just to earn a home game in the first round. Bowdoin, meanwhile, went undefeated over a five-game stretch during the midpoint of the year but finished the season at 3-3-0 over its last six games. These two clubs have faced each other twice in championship play, both meetings occurring in the semifinals. The Jumbos posted a 3-1 victory in the 2001 championship, while Bowdoin advanced to the final game for the first time in tournament history thanks to a 4-2 penalty kick advantage after a 1-1 draw in last year’s semifinals.
2008 NESCAC WOMEN’S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Sunday, November 2 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Colby at No. 1 Williams - 12:30 p.m.
No. 7 Wesleyan at No. 2 Amherst - 12:30 p.m.
No. 6 Trinity at No. 3 Middlebury - 12:30 p.m.
No. 5 Bowdoin at No. 4 Tufts - 12:30 p.m.
Semifinals - Saturday, November 8 at Highest Remaining Seed
11:00 a.m./1:30 p.m.
Championship - Sunday, November 9
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.