Albertus Magnus, Christopher Newport, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute descent upon Clothier Field this weekend to join with Swarthmore as a first and second round pod in the 2012 NCAA Division III men’s soccer tournament.
Albertus Magnus – The Falcons were the second seed in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference and won the Conference Tournament with victories over seventh seed Suffolk and sixth seed Emerson before advancing to their first-ever NCAA Tournament on penalties after a 0-0 draw with fourth seed Norwich.
Albertus Magnus is 15-3-3 on the season and is balanced on both sides of the ball, 62nd in the nation in scoring offense with 2.33 goals per game and 29th in the nation in goals against average at .69. Stephen Zapata paces the attack with nearly two points per game and is fourth in Division III with 12 assists this year. Donato Piroscafo is in the top 35 in both goals against average and save percentage in net.
Albertus Magnus has been shut out just three times this season, all in draws, and twice by Norwich. However, the Falcons have a low .475 strength of schedule, and fell 3-1 to New England No. 10 Coast Guard in their only contest this year against a regionally ranked opponent.
Christopher Newport – The Captains earned an at-large bid to the Tournament from the USA South Athletic Conference and were ranked fourth in the South Atlantic in the final published NCAA Regional Rankings. After starting the year high in the Top 25, Christopher Newport fell from the rankings after a 2-1-2 start including a draw with defending National Champion Ohio Wesleyan, a loss to NCAA-participant York (PA) and a draw at Greensboro.
From that point, the team ran off a 13-1-0 stretch, winning the USA South regular season championship and defeating eighth seed Piedmont in the opening round of the postseason tournament. But fifth seed Greensboro shocked the Captains in the Conference semifinal leaving the captains on the NCAA bubble before they were rewarded with a trip to Swarthmore.
Christopher Newport makes its eighth trip to the NCAA Tournament. In 2011, as a 17-0-1 top seed, the Captains were stunned in the opening round by Randolph 2-1. Christopher Newport ranks eighth in the country scoring three goals per game but also concedes 1.12 per game, just 116th in the country with only five wins via shutout. Jalon Brown averages nearly two points per game and is eighth in the country in total assists.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – Ranked sixth in the East Region in the final published NCAA Regional Rankings after an impressive 5-1-2 Conference regular season, the Engineers won the competitive Liberty League in upstate New York with a pair of penalty victories in both the tournament’s semifinal against national No. 13 St. Lawrence and final against Liberty No. 1 Vassar.
RPI has 11 blemishes on the year with a 9-5-6 record but played an extremely ambitious slate with a .603 strength of schedule, tied for Clarkson for the highest in their region. RPI did not fare well against regionally ranked opponents, going 1-4-2 with the only win coming against East No. 9 Hobart. Swarthmore shut out the Engineers 2-0 early in September.
RPI finished the season just 0-2-2 conceding at least once in each match, but one of those losses came on the road at national No. 7 and NESCAC top seed Williams by just a 1-0 score. The team has won just twice in their past nine games dating back to the sixth of October with a record of 2-2-5 in that stretch.
The Engineers make their first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2009 and make the field despite failing to record a winning streak longer than three games this year.
RPI is in the bottom quarter of scoring offense nationally averaging just 1.1 goals per game, but makes up for their offensive struggles with a .7 goals against average, 30th in the country. Rob Dewald is 28th in the country in goals against average and 26th in save percentage.
Schedule – Swarthmore takes on Albertus Magnus at 5PM on Saturday with Christopher Newport-RPI following at 7:30. The winners will meet on Sunday at 5PM. Can’t make it to the games? Watch live on the Garnet Sports Network at swarthmoreathletics.com.