SHU Set for NEC Men's Soccer Tournament

Nov. 14, 2007

The Set-Up... The Pioneer men's soccer team makes their second appearance in the Northeast Conference tournament this weekend. SHU is seeded third and will face Saint Francis (PA) in the second semifinal Friday at 1:30 pm at Monmouth. The top seeded Hawks will face Central Connecticut in the first game of the day at 11:00 am. The winners meet for the championship Sunday at 12:00 pm on The Great Lawn.

Pioneers Top FDU... The Pioneers closed the regular season with a 2-1 win over FDU on Senior Day at Campus Field. Junior Jason Tessitore and senior Ricarti Mendes each scored goals. Mendes had the game-winner in the 39th minute. The win clinched a spot in the NEC playoffs for SHU.

The NEC Tournament... This year is the 19th edition of the NEC men's soccer tournament. Seven different schools have won at least on NEC tournament championship. Fairleigh Dickinson has won five titles, more then any other school. St. Francis (NY) has four titles to its credit while Robert Morris has won three championships. Monmouth is the reigning champion.

SHU in the NEC Tournament... This year marks SHU's second appearance in the NEC tournament in school history. After not qualifying once in their first seven years in the league, the Pioneers are making their second trip to the playoffs in the last three years.

SHU vs the Field... Sacred Heart went 2-1 against the tournament field this year. The Pioneers beat Saint Francis (PA) and Central Connecticut and los to Monmouth.

Scouting the Red Flash... Saint Francis (PA) enters the playoffs seeded third, having posted a 6-2-1 record in league play this year. The Red Flash lost their meeting with Sacred Heart by a 1-0 score in Loretto. Patrick Fleming and Jarron Brown lead the SFPA attack with four goals and three assists for 11 total points. Brad Williams has posted a 1.07 goals against average on the season.

Scouting the Hawks... The regular season champion Monmouth Hawks posted a 7-2 record in league play this year. MU's only losses came to CCSU, their opponent in the semifinals, and Robert Morris in the final weekend of the season. Damon Wilson leads the attack with 20 total points, including seven goals and six assists. Tom Gray tallied six goals and four assists in the regular season. Goaltender Dan Schenkel posted a 0.77 goals against average, third in the league, during the regular season.

Scouting the Blue Devils... Central Connecticut qualified four the playoffs by going unbeaten in their final five games of the regular season, including four straight wins. Paul Armstrong has been the MVP of the team, posting a 0.70 goals against average, second best in the league. Yan Klukowski and Chris Brown lead the Blue Devil attack. Klukowski has a team leading 11 points, three goals and five assists. Brown scored a team high five goals.

Trifecta Up Front... The Pioneers chances for a run in the playoffs are bolstered by a strong core of players on both sides of the ball. Up front, junior Jason Tessitore leads the attack that he has been the focus of the last two years. Tessitore was an All-Northeast Conference selection as a freshman. In addition to Tessitore, the Pioneers also welcome back another big name up front in the 6-4, 215 pound Jesper Fredriksson. Fredriksson burst on the scene last year as he led the team in scoring with six goals and two assists for 14 points. Tessitore finished the regular season with a team high seven goals while seior Ricarti Mendes led the team with 18 points.

Goalie From Across the Pond... Just as vital to the Pioneer success is their defense, led by junior goalkeeper Matthew Jones. This year he has a 0.80 goals against average, fourth best in the league, and a second-best seven shutouts to his credit already. Jones has now allowed just 15 goals in 18 games, going 10-7-1. Jones had an outstanding freshman year, earning second team All-NEC honors as well as a nod to the NSCAA All-New England Men's Soccer Second Team. Although he didn't win any awards, Jones had a solid sophomore year as well. He turned in a 1.43 goals against average with a .726 save percentage. Jones posted seven wins, three of which were shutouts.

Record Setters... The Pioneers 10 wins are the most victories by a SHU team since the program turned Division I in 1999. Jason Tessitore's hat trick against LIU on October 26 was the first hat trick for a SHU player in Division I. The five goals the Pioneers scored in that game were the most in the schools' D-I history.

Up Next... The champion of the conference tournament receives an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. The field of 64 will be announced on Monday with first round play starting next weekend.