Shoremen headed to NCAAs for 2nd time in 3 years

CHESTERTOWN — Johns Hopkins lived up to its preseason billing as the team to beat in Centennial Conference men’s soccer, which wasn’t the worst thing that could happen if you are a Washington College fan.

The Shoremen’s only two losses of the season are to the Blue Jays, which NCAA Division III Tournament selectors no doubt took into consideration when selecting the 64-team field.

No. 18-ranked Washington’s in.

And so is a third CC team, No. 8- ranked Franklin & Marshall, which was chosen as one of 16 host sites for the opening weekend. 

As the Centennial champion, Hopkins (12-4-4) is an automatic qualifier.

Washington (11-2-5) and F&M (13-3-2) receive at-large bids.

“Our selection for the tournament was not a shock. We felt good going into that process having only lost to one team this year,” Shoremen coach Roy Dunshee told The Evening Enterprise in an email Thursday.

He said it was a surprise, however, to be selected to play against teams from Ohio.

Nonetheless, “We are really excited about the challenge of taking our brand of soccer to a new place. It should be a great experience for the guys,” Dunshee said.

The tournament consists of a classic 64-team field, dedicating 41 slots to automatic qualifiers and the remaining 23 berths to at-large candidates chosen by the selection committee.

Four semifinalists will advance to Kerr Stadium in Salem, Virginia where Roanoke College will host the final two rounds of the tournament on Dec. 1 and Dec. 3.

It all started today.

F&M faced Geneva (12-4-4) in the first round at 4 p.m. on Friday, followed by Connecticut College (11-1-5) vs. Denison (12-4-3) at 6:30 p.m.

The winners advance to play Saturday in Lancaster, Pennsylvania at 6 p.m.

F&M is making its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance in a row, and 14th overall.

Washington will play Otterbein (12-3-4) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Kenyon (15-4) in Gambier, Ohio. 

Kenyon will meet Dominican (14-3-3) in the other match on Saturday at 11 a.m. 

The two teams that advance will play on Sunday with a 1 p.m. kickoff.

This is the Shoremen’s second trip to the NCAA Tournament in three seasons. 

Washington previously qualified for the tournament in 1973 and 2021 when it reached the Round of 16. 

CC champion Johns Hopkins will travel to Middlebury, Vermont for opening rounds and will take on Babson (11-3-7) on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

No. 3-ranked Middlebury (12-1-4) will take on Western New England (6-6-7) in the other first-round match.

Saturday’s winners will meet on Sunday for a right to go to the NCAA Sweet 16.

Hopkins is making its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 20th overall.

JHU faced five teams in this year’s tournament field and went 4-1-0 in those matches.

The Blue Jays earned the automatic bid after defeating the defending conference champs from Muhlenberg, 1-0, in last week’s title match.

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Johns Hopkins defeated top seed and host Washington in the Centennial Conference semifinals last Friday, 2-0.

Graduate student Ben Goodman put the fourth-seeded Blue Jays on the board in just the 12th minute.

Hopkins pressured and forced a Washington turnover at midfield and senior Logan Falzarano found Goodman open on the right sideline.

Goodman took a couple of touches up field before cutting back on his defender. He then ripped a left-footed shot from just inside the box into the left upper 90.

Hopkins needed even less time in the second half to push its lead to two.

A takeaway in the Blue Jays’ defensive end led to a quick counterattack. Junior Will Sangpachatanaruk sprung classmate Jonathan Cui on the break.

With Shoremen keeper Anthony Pinto off his line, Cui looked up and from 40 yards away lofted a ball toward the goal. The ball hit the left post and went in to give the Blue Jays a little cushion just 29 seconds into the second half.

Four minutes later, a shot by Ben Strine off a Shoremen corner kick hit the post and senior Drew Valsamedis was able to pounce on the rebound to end the threat.

Washington had another chance to cut the lead in half in the 70th minute after being awarded a penalty kick when Shepherd Koffie was brought down in the box.

Chris Comber’s shot to the lower right corner was knocked away by a diving Valsamedis.

The Shoremen were held to only three more shots over the remaining 20 minutes.

Washington led 12-5 in shots and 5-1 in corner kicks.

“I thought we played well,” Dunshee wrote in Thursday’s email. “They scored two spectacular goals and sometimes you just have to tip your cap and say it was their day. But we held them to five shots in the game and threatened their goal multiple times. Nothing to hang our heads about.”

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The Shoremen gave up just 13 goals on the season with eight shutouts. They are led by senior net-minder Anthony Pinto, who has a .780 save percentage, a 0.73 goals-against average and seven clean sheets this fall. 

On offense, senior midfielder Ben Strine  and junior midfielder Katim Njie are tops on the squad with 14 points apiece. Strine has scored a team-leading seven goals. Njie is five-and-four.

Senior Mayowa Taiwo of Chestertown, a graduate of Kent County High School, has appeared in 11 matches this fall for the Shoremen.

No. 25 Otterbein fell to Ohio Northern in the Ohio Athletic Conference Championship, 3-1. Brothers Will Issac (10 goals, 8 assists) and Nick Issac (6 goals, 6 assists) are the top scorers.

Casey Thompson has pitched six shutouts this season and has a .853 save percentage and 0.77 goals-against average.

The Cardinals have outscored their collective opponents, 43-15.

This will be the first meeting between Washington and Otterbein, which also earned an at-large spot.

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ASTON, Pa. – Also of interest to local soccer fans is that Neumann University earned one of the AQ slots as the Atlantic East Conference champion.

Sophomore midfielder Nickolas Jones of Chestertown, a starter on Kent County High School’s 2021 region championship team, has appeared in five matches with one start for the 9-4-3 Knights.

Neumann has the unfortunate draw of No. 2-ranked Mary Washington (16-1-2) in first-round action Saturday in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

 

 

 

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