ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Southern Vermont College is set to host a first-round game of the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) women's soccer postseason tournament for the third-straight year as the league announced Wednesday night that the third-seeded Mountaineers will welcome No. 6 Newbury College on Saturday for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Everett Field.
It marks the seventh consecutive season that the SVC squad has made the playoffs. Southern Vermont grabbed the three seed for the second time in the last three years with a league record of 6-1-1 (11-4-1 overall)—getting edged by Elms College (6-1-1 NECC, 12-5-2 overall) for the No. 2 seed by the Conference's sixth tiebreaker (strength of schedule).
Newbury squeaked into the tournament with a 1-6-1 mark in NECC action (2-15-1 overall)—besting Mitchell College (1-6-1 NECC, 1-10-1 overall) for the final spot in the bracket with the strength of schedule tiebreak. SVC defeated the Nighthawks 3-0 during the two sides' regular season meeting.
"It's great to be back in the playoffs and even better that we get to start them on Everett Field," SVC seventh-year head coach Michael Zauzig said. "It has been an expectation that we make the tournament, and I'm excited that we have extended our season. Everett Field has been very good to us this year, and we're looking forward to the playoff atmosphere."
The Mountaineers have fared well on their own pitch this year as the team registered its first-ever undefeated regular season home schedule with a 4-0-1 mark at Everett. SVC looks to have a better result on its campus than it did in the team's 2016 first-round matchup which saw fourth-seeded Southern Vermont fall 3-2 to No. 5 Bay Path University.
"We have had the mentality to take the season one day at-a-time," Zauzig noted about the Mountaineers' mindset. "We want to make sure we get better each day, and the team has done an excellent job of that. With that being said, with Bay Path as our last game this year and the playoffs quickly approaching, there is no denying we have been thinking about last year's loss. It's tough when the season ends and even worse when it happens on your own field. Bay Path had a good game plan last year, but we didn't execute. I want us to remember the feeling of the season ending and work to make sure that we go out on our own terms."
Southern Vermont has been very tough in the backfield throughout the 2017 campaign and looks to bring that defensive prowess into the tournament. SVC ended the regular season with an overall goals against average of 0.55 and a 0.36 mark against NECC opponents—both of those being league bests. The Mountaineers allowed more than one goal in just one game when they lost 2-0 to Lesley University, and they posted a team-record nine shutouts (six in league play) throughout the year.
"Our commitment—as a team—to defense has been incredible," Zauzig continued. "I couldn't be prouder that the team has bought into this concept and worked hard to execute it each and every day. Nine goals in 16 matches is an impressive statistic, and I am extremely proud of the team for it."
SVC is 9-0-1 in its last 10 games as the team first tied the program record for its longest winning streak (6) before breaking its mark for the most consecutive games without a loss (7). While the Mountaineers have already had a stellar year with numerous historic accomplishments, they know that there is still work to do and additional firsts within reach.
"We need to continue to work and challenge ourselves to get better each and every day," Zauzig added. "Although it might sound cliché, we need to control the controllable. We need to make sure that we communicate, work hard, and lift each other up. If we do that, there is no reason we can't be competing on November 4."
That is the date of the NECC championship match which will be held at the highest remaining seed. Lesley earned the right to be hosting that title game as the Lynx grabbed the top spot with an unblemished 8-0 record in league play (15-2-2 overall); first, LU will have to defeat the winner of No. 4 Becker College (5-3 NECC, 10-9 overall) against fifth-seeded Bay Path (4-4 NECC, 7-6-1 overall) in an 8 p.m. Wednesday semifinal. Elms will host the other semi on Wednesday at 4 p.m.—playing the winner of SVC and Newbury.
– #LetsGoSVC –