Men's soccer heads back to NCAA Division III tournament
Judges host for second straight year, will face Johnson & Wales in opening round
For the second year in a row, the Brandeis men’s soccer team has qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament. The Judges, who posted a 14-4-1 record in the regular season and earned an at-large berth to the tournament, will once again host the first two rounds.
Brandeis will take on Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) champions Johnson & Wales University (14-1-6) on Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. The other first-round game at Gordon Field will pit 17-5-1 Rutgers-Newark against 15-5-2 Roger Williams University at 7:30 p.m. The winners will meet in the second round on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 5 p.m.
Under head coach Michael Coven, who is in his 41st year, Brandeis is making its 11th all-time appearance in the NCAAs. The Judges won the NCAA championship in 1976 and were runners-up in 1984. Last season, the Judges reached the Sweet 16. In 2013, Brandeis finished in fifth place in the University Athletic Association (UAA), and was ranked second in the New England region in the most recently published NCAA rankings. Although the Judges peaked at No. 12 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division III poll and at No. 7 in the d3soccer.com poll, they enter the tournament ranked No. 22 in both.
Brandeis tied for the UAA lead in scoring with 49 goals and was third in team defense with a 0.98 goals-against average. Individually, the Judges boasted the league’s top goal-scorer in junior forward Tyler Savonen of Orleans, Mass., who had 10 tallies, and the top assist man in senior back Ben Applefield of Avon, Conn., who had nine helpers. Savonen was tied for second in overall scoring with 23 points. Junior goalkeeper Joe Graffy of Concord, N.H., was third in the league in goals-against average (0.99) and fourth in save percentage (.758).
Johnson & Wales is making its fifth NCAA tournament appearance as GNAC champions, its first since 2007, coached by David Kulik, who is in his second year at JWU after 12 seasons at Clark University. Johnson & Wales earned its berth with a 5-3 penalty-kick win over Lasell College in the GNAC championship match after a 3-3 draw in regulation. Junior goalkeeper Ryan Dzierzawski was the tournament MVP after making 22 saves in three matches. The Wildcats were second in GNAC in scoring with 42 goals and in team defense with a 0.63 GAA. Junior O’Kyle Corridon led the team with eight goals and seven assists for 23 points, and sophomore Kyle Metz was just behind with five goals and 12 assists for 22 points. Dzierzawski is seventh in Division III with a .893 save percentage; the Wildcats are second overall at .886.
This will be the first-ever meeting between Brandeis and Johnson & Wales. The squads had two common opponents this season. Brandeis defeated Lasell, 5-1, on Sept. 18, while JWU defeated the Lasers, 2-1, on Oct. 12 before its draw in the GNAC tournament. Against Mount Ida College, the Judges produced a 1-0 win on Oct. 28; Johnson and Wales suffered a 2-0 loss to the Mustangs two weeks earlier.
Against other teams in the tournament, JWU earned a 1-0 win at Elms on Sept. 18. Brandeis posted a 2-2 record against NCAA tournament squads, with nonconference wins over MIT (2-1 in overtime) and Wheaton (2-1), and UAA losses to Carnegie Mellon (2-1 in overtime) and Rochester (3-2).
Live stats for the matches can be found at http://livestats.prestosports.com/brandeisjudges. An audio broadcast can be heard courtesy WBRS Sports, 100.1 FM, and online. Ticket information will be available later this week.
For more information about Brandeis men’s soccer, visit the Athletics site.