MEDFORD, Mass. – The Tufts University men's soccer team earned a bid into the 2017 NCAA Division III Tournament Monday after winning the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship this weekend. The Jumbos (15-1-2, 7-1-2 NESCAC) received one of two first-round byes in the 62-team tournament field and earned the right to host the first and second rounds.
The other two teams coming to Medford to play in the opening rounds are Saint Jospeh's College (Maine) and Mitchell College. They will face each other in a first round game on Saturday (Nov. 11) at 1 p.m. with the winner advancing to play Tufts in the second round on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Tickets for both games are $4 for adults and $3 for students and seniors. Tufts University students are free with their ID. The gate will open at noon on both days.
Tufts, under eighth-year head coach Josh Shapiro, has now reached the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive years dating back to 2014. The Jumbos have been national champions in two of the last three seasons, first in 2014 and then again last year. In 2016, the squad shut out five of their six opponents in the tournament on their way to a 1-0 win over Calvin College in a double overtime game.
This will be the seventh tournament appearance (1994, 1996, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017) for Tufts, as the team has qualified in five of the last six years. They have an impressive 16-4 record in NCAA Tournament games.
The Jumbos have been extremely balanced this season on both ends of the field. The defense has only allowed one goal all season long, while recording 17 shutouts and a 0.05 goals against average which is good enough for first in NESCAC and second in all of Division III. At the same time, the offense has scored 40 goals which is the best in NESCAC and the most the program has scored since they netted 44 in 2000. Twenty different players have recorded at least a point and 17 different Jumbos have scored a goal. They are currently riding a 10-game unbeaten streak, dating back to Oct. 1, and are 9-0-1 in that stretch.
Sophomores Brett Rojas and Gavin Tasker are tied for the team lead with 11 points. Rojas has recorded three goals and five assists, the biggest of those goals coming in the 88th minute of the NESCAC championship game against MIddlebury College to give the team a 1-0 victory and their first NESCAC title. Tasker has four goals and three assists. He scored the Jumbos' first goal of the season in overtime of their 1-0 win over Babson on opening night.
Seniors Dexter Eichhorst and Kevin Halliday both have 10 points each. Eichhorst has five goals and had the game-winner in the team's 3-0 victory over Keene State. Halliday has four goals and two assists. He had the first two goals of the game in Tufts' 4-0 NESCAC semifinal win over Hamilton.
The defense has been led by co-captains Conor Coleman and Sterling Weatherbie. They've both started all the games they played in - Weatherbie missed one due to injury - which can only be said about them and two other Jumbo field players (Tasker and senior Tyler Kulcsar). On the offensive side, Coleman has two goals and two assists and Weatherbie has two goals.
Junior goalkeeper Conner Mieth started all three games in the NESCAC tournament. He's recorded 14 saves, a 0.11 goals against average, and an 8-1-0 record in 10 contests. His goals against average is good enough for second in NESCAC and third in all of Division III.
Saint Joseph's is 18-0-1 on the season and is the only team ahead of Tufts in the country in goals against average. The Monks have not allowed a single goal all season, while socring 65. They're currently riding a 14-game winning streak that culminated in a Great Northeast Athletic Conference championship over Norwich, 1-0. They are led by junior forward Brett Matos who has 48 points on the season, which is tied for third in the counrty, with 19 goals and 10 assists. Junior Blake Mullen mans the net for Saint Jospeh's, recording 48 saves on the season and has not allowed a goal. The Monks earned their first-ever NCAA berth last season and lost in the first round.
Mitchell finished the year at 9-8-1 with a New England Collegiate Conference championship over Elms, 1-0. They scored 37 goals on the season and are led by junior Andrew Storton who has 11 of those goals. Sophomore Seth Strader has started the majority of games in goal for the Mariners. He has made 80 saves and averages 1.77 goals against. Mitchell will be making its first-ever NCAA appearance.
Information on tickets and live coverage of the games will be added to this release when it is available.
Written by Curtis Stoychoff, Athletic Communications Intern