It has been a season of streaks for the Stony Brook men’s soccer team.
After earning just one win over their first 12 matches, the Seawolves finished the regular season on a five-game unbeaten streak. The flood of points landed the team in second place, worthy of a first-round bye in the annual America East post-season tournament that determines the conference’s representative in the NCAA national championship bracket.
The conference has been turned on its head over the course of a few weeks. At the start of conference play, both UMBC and Boston University were ranked in the top 25 teams in the nation. Now, they’ve earned the fifth and sixth seeds, respectively, in the six-team tournament.
New Hampshire holds the top seed, the only blemish on their record a 1-1 draw against Stony Brook. New Hampshire joins the Seawolves with a bye in the first round. The Wildcats await the winner of #4 Binghamton and #5 UMBC, while Stony Brook will play the winner of #3 Hartford and #6 Boston University.
Here’s everything to know about the matchups ahead of the quarterfinals:
#5 UMBC Retrievers at #4 Binghamton Bearcats,’ Scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 7,Vestal, N.Y.
It’s been a roller coaster year for the Retrievers from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. UMBC was picked dead last in the preseason poll. Then the Retrievers came roaring out of the gate, looking utterly unstoppable in September. This time last month, UMBC was ranked 25th in the nation, having won their first nine games of the season. Sophomore striker Andrew Bulls scored in each of those games, and finished the season as only the sixth player in Retrievers history to accumulate 40 points over the course of the season (15 goals, 10 assists).
Since then, the Retrievers’ stock has plummeted faster than General Motors’. After that nine game streak, the Retrievers are 3-5 and finished the regular season in fifth place behind the similarly struggling Bearcats.
Binghamton has seen a more direct fall from grace. Preseason polls had the Bearcats pegged to finish second in the America East. But Binghamton finished with a conference record of 4-3-0, one point behind Stony Brook and Hartford and only good enough for a fourth place finish.
The last time these two met, the Retrievers headed back to Maryland with their tails between their legs, as Binghamton defeated UMBC 4-0. UMBC had started six freshman in that game due to injuries and suspensions. Binghamton leads the all-time series between the two, having gone 6-2-1, and it has been the Bearcats who eliminated the Retrievers in UMBC’s last two playoff appearances.
The winner advances to play New Hampshire in the semifinal.
#6 Boston University Terriers at #3 Hartford Hawks,Scheduled for 7 p.m. on Nov. 7, West Hartford, Conn.
If anyone has fallen further than UMBC and Binghamton, it is Boston. Picked to repeat as champions in the preseason poll, Boston spent much of September in the national top 25.
But after dismantling Stony Brook in its opening game of America East play, the Terriers lost four straight. Boston was only able to manage a playoff spot by defeating Vermont and Albany, the two teams that did not qualify for the playoffs, in the final games of the regular season.
Aaron O’Neal leads the Terriers with 11 goals and two assists. Michael Bustamante has recorded 2 goals and 10 assists on the season for Boston.
Hartford will make their eighth playoff appearance. The Hawks were picked to finish fifth in the league, but took advantage of the tight league to move up in the table, recording big victories against Boston, Binghamton, and UMBC. They finished even with Stony Brook on points, but Stony Brook won its final game of the season against Hartford, giving it the head-to-head advantage.
Hartford was led by Carlos Villa, who found the net 8 times and assisted on one goal over his 14 games played. Goalkeeper Nenad Cudic has four shutouts.
Both Boston and Hartford have added, in addition to this quarterfinal matchup, the Nov. 11 semifinal at Stony Brook to the calendars on their respective websites. Only Hartford has already scheduled ahead for the championship game as well.
The Hawks collected all three points during the regular season meeting between the two, defeating Boston, 3-1.
The winner advances to take on the Seawolves at Stony Brook on November 11.’