Norton, MA --- Fourth-seeded Babson claimed its sixth New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament championship on Sunday afternoon at Keefe Field as the Beavers defeated third-seeded WPI, 2-1.
With the victory, Babson (17-5) has earned an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament and also extended its winning streak to six-straight games. The Beavers will now await word on its seeding in the upcoming NCAA Tournament via the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Selection Show scheduled for Monday, November 10 at 1:30 p.m. Fans can access the selection show by clicking here: NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Selection Show.
WPI, who falls to 14-5 overall with the loss, will now await the chance for a possible at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament on Monday afternoon. The Engineers made their first appearance in the NEWMAC Tournament championship game this season after posting a 1-0 victory over nationally ranked Coast Guard in the semifinal round.
Babson junior back Andrew Gonzalez (Durham, CT) was awarded NEWMAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors for his play throughout the duration of the postseason format. Statistically, Gonzalez scored the game-winning goal against nationally ranked Wheaton in the semifinal round and dished out an assist on the first goal of the contest versus WPI today.
Gonzalez also helped Babson sport a 0.33 goals against average (GAA) with his play on the back line. Gonalez is now the second student-athlete in Babson men's soccer program history to earn NEWMAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player accolades joining Eric Anderson '13 who won similar honors in 2010.
In the third minute of the contest, senior midfielder Justin Laurenzo (Park Ridge, NJ) gave Babson an early 1-0 lead when he blasted home a blocked shot that caromed to the left post past the dive of WPI first-year goalkeeper Connor Hoeckele (Granby, CT) for his conference leading 15th goal of the season. Gonzalez was credited with an assist on Laurenzo's tally as his shot near the right post was blocked by an Engineers' defender following a long throw-in from the right sideline.
WPI leveled the score in the 31st minute on a perfectly executed set piece from outside the box on the left flank. After a foul was called on Babson, junior midfielder Kurt Naugler (Westford, MA) positioned the ball about 20-yards away from the goal and struck a sharp, low cross towards the middle of the net that junior back Zach Harmony (Dayton, OH) one-timed in mid-air behind Babson junior goalkeeper Stephen Donato (Morganville, NJ) for his second marker of the year.
Laurenzo nearly found the go-ahead goal at 43:33 as his header attempt was thwarted by Hoeckele with a leaping effort on a ball that looked destined to sneak under the crossbar and into the net.
The Beavers went into the break with an 11-7 advantage in shots and a 3-1 margin in corner kicks.
In the second stanza, Babson wasted little time finding the game-winner as sophomore forward Shane Mandel (Syosset, NY) cleaned up a second rebound opportunity in the 49th minute for his first career goal (18 games played).
Junior midfielder Mario Vicente (Miami, FL) initiated the scoring chance for the Beavers with a shot from outside the 18-yard box that Hoeckele stopped with a dive to his right side of the net. Classmate Tyler Carlos (Prospect, CT) immediately pounced on the loose ball and fired another shot at Hoeckele, which was stopped a point-blank range, before Mandel came into the box and found the back of the net.
WPI had three quality scoring chances prior to the end of regulation but header attempts by sophomore back Nate Peterson (Mashpee, MA) and senior Eric Crevoiserat (Glastonbury, CT) went wide, while senior midfielder Sam Russell's (Glastonbury, CT) opportunity was turned away by Donato with less than three minutes to play.
Donato finished with five saves, giving him 11 total in three games played in the tournament, while Hoeckele stopped a game-high six shots in the loss (11-5-0).
Babson finished with a 17-15 edge in shots, but both teams tied in corner kicks at five apiece.
The Beavers improved to 3-0-1 all-time against WPI in the NEWMAC Tournament with today's win.
Release Courtesy Wheaton Sports Information