NORTON, Mass. – The Wheaton College men's soccer team has earned the No. 3 seed in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament and will face No. 2 Springfield in semifinal action on Saturday, November 5 at 1:30 p.m. at Hartwell-Rodgers Field, located on the campus of top-seed Babson College.
The Lyons finished the regular season with a 4-2-0 mark against NEWMAC opponents (9-7-2 overall) and enter the playoffs winners of two-straight and five of their last six. Springfield (9-4-3) also finished the conference season 4-2-0 but received the No. 2 seed based upon a 3-2 overtime win over Wheaton on its Homecoming weekend back on Sept. 24.
Wheaton leads the all-time series 17-3-1, but has dropped two-straight to the Pride. Following a 2-1 loss in Springfield last season, the Lyons fell behind 2-0 at halftime in this season's match before junior Will Nesbitt (Holliston, Mass./Holliston) scored a pair of second-half goals to send the match to overtime. His first marker snapped a shutout streak of 515:51 for Springfield freshman goalkeeper Brett Bascom (New London, N.H./Kearsarge Regional).
"We have improved every week, every day, and with every game," said Wheaton head coach Matt Cushing. "We're excited to be in the semifinals and to get a rematch with Springfield. I am anxious to see how we respond in an elimination game. It should be an exciting game with both teams playing to advance to the final."
Nesbitt tied for the NEWMAC lead in goals (10) and points (24), closing the season with eight points (3-2-8) in his last five matches. Freshman Travis Blair (Hastings, N.Y.) was a close second with 22 points (9-4-22), including a pair of goals in the Lyons 5-0 win over MIT in the regular season finale.
Senior Chris Thomas (Cumberland, Maine/Phillips Academy) (0-1-1), junior Federico Kelly (Hingham, Mass./Hingham) (7-3-17), and freshmen Luke Finkelstein (Peabody, Mass./Peabody) (1-7-9) and Marlon Ramalho (Framingham, Mass./Bridgeton Academy) (1-1-3) anchor the midfield. Kelly has scored in two-straight matches and three of the last five overall while Finkelstein picked up seven of his nine points in NEWMAC matches.
Junior David Turina (North Yarmouth, Maine/North Yarmouth) and junior Howard Manly (Ayer, Mass./Lawrence Academy) solidify the backfield for Wheaton, and freshman Devin Delfino (Bourne, Mass./Bourne) guards the net. In his first season of collegiate competition, Delfino posted a 7-5-2 record with a 1.45 goals against average (GAA) and a .750 save percentage. He also owns a pair of shutouts against NEWMAC opponents (Clark, MIT).
Springfield is led by freshmen Zach Dutter (Dallas, Pa./Dallas) and Kevin Nowak (Plainsboro, N.J./West Windsor-Plainsboro North) with four goals and nine points each (4-1-9). Junior Alex Reilly (Ledyard, Conn./Ledyard) is next with eight points (3-2-8) while Bascom owns a 6-4-3 record with a 0.88 GAA and an .810 save percentage.
In other playoff action, the winner of the No. 5 MIT/No. 4 WPI match Tuesday night at 6 p.m. will meet No. 1 Babson in the other semifinal Saturday at 10:30 a.m. The championship match will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. at Hartwell-Rodgers Field.