BENNINGTON, Vt – The Southern Vermont College men's soccer team is gearing up for a rematch of last year's New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) semifinal game against Lesley University. Last season, the Lesley Lynx were the favorites to win the NECC tournament after posting a school best 15 wins. The Mountaineers ended those hopes by defeating the Lynx in a shootout after both teams failed to score during regulation and two overtime periods.
Lesley is once again enjoying a very successful season, and enter Saturday's match with a 9-3-1 (3-1 NECC) record, third place in the NECC. The Mountaineers enter Sunday's contest at the top of the NECC standings with a perfect 4-0 conference record and are 9-4 overall.
Despite advancing in last year's semifinal game, the Mountaineers aren't looking for a repeat of what happened the last time these two teams met. The Mountaineers were under siege for much of the game and only managed 3 shots to Lesley's 34.
Lesley returns several players that will be a threat to the Mountaineers. Ali Sozeri leads the Lynx with 10 goals on the year, and is currently second in the conference in goal. Ari Sinanis is also very dangerous for the Lynx, Sinais has 4 goals and an NECC leading 6 assists in 2011. The Mountaineers will rely on 2010 NECC Player of the Year, Nick Haggerty who leads the NECC with 12 goals. Pierre Massena has also proved to be dangerous this season. The sophomore transfer enters the game with 9 goals and 3 assists.
Sunday's goalkeepers will be new to the rivalry, neither have played in prior games between the two schools. Freshman, Connor Anneillo will be in net for the Mountaineers. Anneillo enters the contest with 9 wins and 83 saves, first and third in the conference respectively. Lesley start's senior, Max Perkins who missed all of 2010 with a knee injury. Perkins enters the contest with 7 wins and a conference leading .94 goals against average.
Sundays contest will have a significant impact on post season play. Lesley hasn't lost more than 1 game in the NECC regular season, since 2008 when the team finished 3-3. In 2009 the Lynx finished in second with a 5-1-1 record. Last season they went a step further and finished in first with a 6-1 record. A season ago the Mountaineers finished fifth in the NECC standings, but this year they are fighting for the top spot in the NECC.
"Last season the playoffs were a grind for us, because we traveled for three games in just five days," Senior Mountaineer defender Greg Gilmore said. The Mountaineers traveled to Mitchell College, Lesley, and then to Daniel Webster in the 2010 playoff run. All three trips were over three hours in length. "It's a huge advantage in the playoffs to be able to have a first round bye, and have teams come to you. After last season, we made it a point to not have to go through that again," continued Gilmore
The Mountaineers enter Sunday's match with five wins in their last six games. SVC last played on Tuesday when they beat Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 2-0 at home on Everett Field. Lesley comes off two conference wins, against Wheelock College and Becker College.
Kickoff for the match will be at 3:30 PM on Everett Field at the campus of Southern Vermont.