October 29, 2010

Women's Soccer Championship Seeding Announced

Tufts Earns Number-One Seed for First Time Since 2005

HADLEY, Mass. – Tufts University has earned the top seed and home field advantage throughout the 2010 NESCAC Women's Soccer Championship. The Jumbos finished atop the conference standings for the first time since 2005 thanks to a 1-0 victory over Bowdoin combined with a 2-1 win by Trinity at Amherst on Friday afternoon. Tufts will serve as one of four quarterfinal hosts this Sunday, Oct. 31, as Amherst, Trinity, and three-time defending NESCAC champion Williams will all be home in the first round. All four games will have a 12:30 p.m. start.

Tufts (8-2-3, 6-6-3 NESCAC) knew that only Amherst stood it its way for the number-one seed in this year's tournament. With one game remaining for both teams, the Jumbos and the Jeffs sat tied atop the NESCAC standings with 17 points apiece, and the head-to-head advantage belonged to Amherst. But the Jeffs stumbled to Trinity on Friday which meant that the door was open for the Jumbos to walk through, and they did with their 1-0 decision against Bowdoin. After starting the season 1-2-1, Tufts has put together an impressive 7-0-2 run and heads into its matchup against eighth-seeded Bates (6-7-1, 2-6-1 NESCAC) with significant momentum. The Bobcats were well on their way to victory at Colby in the season finale with a 3-0 lead at halftime, however the Mules battled back to force overtime and then won the match, 4-3. Even though it proved to be the third loss in the last four games for Bates, the Bobcats are back in the postseason for the first time since 2006. Sunday's showdown between the two should be interesting. While Tufts won the regular season meeting at home on Oct. 2, 1-0, Bates holds a 2-1 advantage in the all-time tournament series. The Bobcats claimed their first NESCAC title in 2005 over Tufts, 2-1 in double overtime, then came back the next year and knocked the Jumbos out in overtime in the first round, 2-1.

A win over Trinity was all Amherst (6-6-2, 5-2-2 NESCAC) needed in order to lock up the top seed, however the Bantams came to Amherst and left with a 2-1 victory. The Jeffs finished tied for second with Williams in the NESCAC standings but had the head-to-head advantage over their rivals thanks to a 1-0 victory at Williams on Oct. 2. Amherst opened the 2010 campaign with a 3-0-1 record, yet since that stretch has only managed to earn three more victories over its last 10 games. The Jeffs will look to get back on track and take a step towards winning their third conference championship when they host seventh-seeded Bowdoin (6-6-2, 3-5-1 NESCAC) in what will be the first tournament meeting for the two teams. The Polar Bears owned a 5-2-1 record after the first weekend in October and looked well on their way to hosting a first round game. Bowdoin has struggled since that time, going 1-4-1 to close out the regular season with three one-goal losses, including the aforementioned 1-0 setback at Tufts on Friday. Amherst won the only previous meeting this fall in the season opener, taking a 2-1 decision at Bowdoin on Sept. 11.

Although Williams (9-3-2, 5-2-2 NESCAC) enters the 2010 NESCAC Women's Soccer Championship as the third seed, the Ephs will be considered the team to beat among the field of eight. Williams has won each of the last three conference titles and has four NESCAC crowns overall, more than any other team in the league. The Ephs are unbeaten in three of their last four matches, including a strong showing in the season finale against Middlebury with a 3-0 victory. Williams will begin its pursuit of a fourth consecutive championship on Sunday when it faces sixth-seeded Wesleyan (5-4-4, 3-2-4 NESCAC). After making their first-ever tournament appearance in 2008, the Cardinals are back for the third year in a row with their best-ever finish in the NESCAC standings. Like Williams, Wesleyan heads into the weekend with significant momentum with a 4-1-1 showing over its last six as the Cardinals downed Connecticut College 3-0 on Friday afternoon. Sunday's contest, the first for the two in NESCAC playoff history, will be a rematch of the 2-2 draw the two settled on back on Sept. 11. The tie ended the Ephs' 24-game winning streak over the Cardinals.

The remaining quarterfinal contest pits fourth-seeded Trinity (7-3-4, 4-3-2 NESCAC) against fifth-seeded Middlebury (7-4-3, 4-3-2 NESCAC). Both teams shared fourth place in the NESCAC standings following play on Friday, however the Bantams' 2-0 victory at Middlebury proved to be the difference. Trinity started the season strong at 4-0-3 and looked to be a serious contender for the number-one seed. Those hopes faded when the Bantams lost their next three conference matches, but Friday's 2-1 win at Amherst combined with Middlebury's loss at Williams gave Trinity a first round home contest for the first time. After falling to Trinity on Sept. 18, the Panthers put together a 6-2-2 run over the remainder of the season, however both losses have come over the span of their last three games. Middlebury has the advantage over Trinity when it comes to the all-time tournament series, as the two-time NESCAC champs are 2-0 against the Bantams including their most recent meeting, a 2-0 victory in the 2008 quarterfinals.

2010 NESCAC WOMEN'S SOCCER CHAMPIONSHIP
Quarterfinals - Sunday, October 31 at Higher Seeds
No. 8 Bates at No. 1 Tufts - 12:30 p.m.
No. 7 Bowdoin at No. 2 Amherst - 12:30 p.m.
No. 6 Wesleyan at No. 3 Williams - 12:30 p.m.
No. 5 Middlebury at No. 4 Trinity - 12:30 p.m.

Semifinals - Saturday, November 6 at Highest Remaining Seed
11:00 a.m./1:30 p.m.

Championship - Sunday, November 7
Semifinal winners - 12:00 p.m.

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