ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The Southern Vermont College women's soccer team is heading back to the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) postseason tournament as the Mountaineers earned the No. 4 seed in the 2018 bracket.
The Mountaineers are making a playoff appearance for the eighth-straight year and are set to host fifth-seeded Eastern Nazarene College at 1 p.m. on Saturday. With the weekend forecast not looking favorable for SVC's grass pitch, the two sides will meet on Mass. College of Liberal Arts' Shewcraft Field in North Adams. Southern Vermont defeated the Lions 2-0 in the regular season matchup back on September 22.
"The playoffs are extremely rewarding this year," said SVC eighth-year head coach Michael Zauzig. "We've had to battle much more this year and work through the early season struggles to get to this point. Not only am I excited to give this group of seniors another chance to make a run—but to enjoy the extra time together. We have a really good feel on the team right now, and these young women have really come together. Additionally, after a tough start, I'm thrilled that we have been able to finish strong and have this opportunity."
The Mountaineers went 8-6-2 on the year and 6-3 in Conference play—entering the playoffs with a three-game winning streak. With a victory on Saturday, they will make it to the semifinal round for the fourth time in the last five years and take on the winner of No. 8 Dean College (2-6-1) at top-seeded Lesley University (9-0).
"More than anything, we will have to focus on the details," Zauzig continued. "Early in the year, we needed to be more focused defensively, and those moments cost us games. We have certainly improved as a team over the last month, but we still have some areas that need improvement and adjustments. Ultimately, we need a commitment to team defense and make sure that all 11 players on the field are working together. As always, I believe set pieces will have an impact in the playoffs, and we need make sure we don't lose focus and take advantage of our opportunities."
Eastern Nazarene went 4-4-1 in league play and took the fifth seed with a tiebreaker after defeating Becker College which also finished at 4-4-1. The sixth-seeded Hawks will visit No. 3 Elms College (7-2) in the quarterfinals while No. 7 Bay Path University (3-6) heads to second-seeded New England College (7-1-1) in the final match of the round.
"The biggest strengths of this team include our depth and versatility," Zauzig added. "We have more depth than in the past which has helped in matches and at training. We have a variety of players play very well in multiple positions; this allows us to make adjustments and change matchups during games."
The semifinals are slated to be played on Wednesday at the higher seed of each contest, and those games winners will then match up on Saturday, November 3 for the league title.
Quarterfinals – Saturday, October 27
#8 Dean (2-6-1) at #1 Lesley (9-0) – 6 p.m. (Arlington High School)
#7 Bay Path (3-6) at #2 New England College (7-1-1) – 4:30 p.m.
#6 Becker (4-4-1) at #3 Elms (7-2) – 1 p.m.
#5 Eastern Nazarene (4-4-1) at #4 Southern Vermont (6-3) – 1 p.m. (MCLA's Shewcraft Field -- North Adams, Mass.)
Semifinals – Wednesday, October 31 (at higher seed)
Game 5: Game 4 winner vs. Game 1 winner – TBD
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 2 winner – TBD
Championship – Saturday, November 3 (at highest remaining seed)
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner – TBD
– #LetsGoSVC –