NCAA Sectionals Preview: Sweet 16 Action Returns to Hitchcock Field For First Time Since 2016

NCAA Sectionals Preview: Sweet 16 Action Returns to Hitchcock Field For First Time Since 2016

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AMHERST, Mass. – Sweet Sixteen action is back at Hitchcock Field for the first time since 2016 this weekend, as the top-ranked Amherst College men's soccer team is set to take on Rowan University this Saturday, November 23 after outscoring opponents 8-1 in the first two rounds of the national postseason to advance to the Third Round of the 2019 NCAA Championship tournament for the 10th straight season.

Amherst will battle on the Profs at Hitchcock Field beginning at 11:00AM in the first Third Round matchup of the day, while the Falcons will take on the Engineers at 1:30PM for a spot in the Elite Eight.

LIVE COVERAGE
Nov. 23  |  11:00 AM  |   Amherst vs. Rowan     |   Live Stats / Video
Nov. 23  |  1:30 PM    |   Messiah vs RPI            |   Live Stats / Video
Nov. 24  |  1:00PM     |  Third Round Winners   |   Live Stats / Video

TICKETS
Tickets will be sold at Hitchcock Field prior to each contest. Adult tickets will cost $6, students and seniors will cost $3 and children ages three to 12 will be $2.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

  • Earning an at-large bid, five different Mammoths found the back of the net in Amherst's two regional victories, with the Purple & White powering past Thomas. 6-1 and No. 25 Ithaca, 2-0 to improve the program's all-time NCAA ledger to 31-11-11.
  • Missing out on the national postseason last fall, Rowan returns to the NCAA Championship for the fourth time in five years after claiming an at-large selection and will make the trip to the Pioneer Valley with a 34-23-4 mark at the big dance after edging Salve Regina in penalty kicks, 4-2, and upending No. 15 Mary Washington in overtime, 3-2.
  • Nearing the program's 90th NCAA tournament win, Messiah holds a 89-16-5 national postseason ledger heading into the weekend after earning the MAC automatic bid and powering past Framingham State, 6-1 and No. 10 SUNY Oneonta, 4-1 to begin Championship play.
  • The Liberty League's automatic qualifier, RPI advanced past the opening round of NCAA action for the fifth time in school history with a 4-0 shutout of Eastern Nazarene before playing Middlebury to a 0-0 draw and advancing on penalty kicks, 5-3, to clinch a spot in the Sectionals.

MATCHUP HISTORY
Saturday's matchups will mark a first for all parties, with Amherst and Rowan and Messiah and RPI never previously meeting on the field. 

Looking at Sunday's possible contests, Amherst has never faced Messiah despite the sides storied NCAA history and has not seen RPI since 1928 and owns a 2-0 all-time ledger. Rowan last saw Messiah in 2017, dropping the game 3-2 in overtime, and has gone 1-3 all-time against the Falcons, while the Profs have never faced off against RPI.

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SCOUTING NO. 1 AMHERST
 16-1-2 Overall  |  Schedule / Roster / Stats

  • Tied for fifth in D3 in goals, sophomore forward and reigning NESCAC Player of the Year German Giammetti has added 22 goals to the board and assisted on four others to total 48 points as a potent catalyst on the Mammoths' attack.
  • With 28 points after netting nine scores and dishing out a team-high 10 helpers, opposing defenses will have to be on alert for Dane Lind '20 in the midfield, while Ignacio Cubeddu '23 is the final Mammoth to post double-digit points so far this fall with five scores and four assists (14 points).
  • The only Mammoth to start all 19 contests, defender Kyle Kelly '21 is a mainstay of Amherst's stingy backline, while Bryce Johnson '21, Cutler Coleman '20 and Felix Wu '21 have all logged 16-or-more starts on defense to hold opponents to a .075 shot percentage. 
  • Sophomore Bernie White (14-1-1) has played the majority of minutes in between the pipes for the Mammoths, compiling a 0.50 goals against average and a .869 save percentage behind 53 stops. He has allowed just eight scores this fall and has posted six shutouts.

SCOUTING ROWAN
 12-5-4 Overall  |  Schedule / Roster / Stats

  • Leading the Profs by five markers, Jay Vandermark has potted 12 goals and dished out an assist to log a team-high 25 points, while Matt Hendrickson has also proven to be a threat up front - notching seven goals and 15 points.
  • No other Prof has tallied more than three goals this fall, with 13 players netting between one and three scores to subsidize the Rowan offense.
  • Holding opponents to a .103 shot percentage, Kevin Primich, Matt Fahey, Aaron Robertson and Modou Sowe have been constants in the defensive unit - each making 17 or more starts.
  • The anchor of the Profs' backline, James Weinberg (12-5-3) has started all 20 games in frame for Rowan while racking up 77 saves. Giving up 25 goals on the year, Weinberg brings a 1.21 GAA and a .755 save percentage into Sectional play.

SCOUTING NO. 8 MESSIAH
 18-2-2 Overall  |  Schedule / Roster / Stats

  • The spark in the Messiah attack, Trevor Gooding and Lucas Kokolios have combined for 19 goals this fall, with Gooding potting a Flacon-leading 11 scores and dishing out two assist for 24 points and Kokolios recording eight goals and two helpers for 18 points.
  • Each with 10-plus points, Micah Fitz (3G-10A-16P), Ben Lefever (6G-3A-15P), Luke Groothoff (6G-2A-14P) and Matt McDonald (3G-4A-10P) have also proven dangerous up front. 
  • Nate Flanders (18-2-2) has played all but 90 minutes on the line this season for the Falcons, giving up 12 scores and making 50 saves en route to posting a 0.57 goals against average and a .806 save percentage.

SCOUTING NO. 12 RPI
 15-2-4 Overall  |  Schedule / Roster / Stats

  • With a team-high 35 points behind 15 goals and five assists, Josh Gaudiano headlines the RPI offense, while Arik Duncan (5G-3A-13P), Austin Betterly (3G-5A-11P) and Trevor Bisson (5G-1A-11P) have each eclipsed double-digit points.
  • Bisson, Joe DiMiceli and Dillon Ashong have started all 21 contests on defense, helping RPI hold opponents to a .075 shot percentage. 
  • Starting both of the Engineers' national postseason contests, Luke Brezak (10-0-4)  has seen action in 14 contests in between the pipes to make 43 saves and boast a .049 GAA and .860 save percentage while allowing seven goals in nearly 1300 minutes. Matt LaBranche (5-2-0) has also been a solid option in net in nine starts, owning a 1.06 GAA and .795 save percentage.

BY THE NUMBERS

  No. 1 Amherst Rowan No. 8 Messiah No. 12 RPI
Games / Record 19 / 16-1-2 21 / 12-5-3 22 / 18-2-2 21 / 15-2-4
Total Goals 50 40 54 43
Assists 39 29 39 34
Goals-Per Game 2.63 2.00 2.45 2.05
Total Shots 426 327 432 308
Shots-Per Game 22.4 16.4 19.6 14.7
Shot % .117 .122 .125 .140
Shots on Goal 191 144 190 145
SOG % .448 .440 .440 .471
Goals-Against Avg. 0.61 1.18 0.59 0.72
Corner Kicks 119 95 132 130
Penalty Kicks 4-4 1-1 3-4 5-6
Yellow Cards 24 60 5 13
Shutouts 9 5 11 8

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