Men's Soccer Heads to Amherst College for NCAA Sectional Tournament

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Montclair, NJ (11/14/11) – The Montclair State men's soccer team will head to Amherst College for the Sectional Tournament of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship this weekend. The Red Hawks (17-3-3) will face Neumann University in the first of two games at 11:00 am on Saturday, November 19.

Fourth-ranked Amherst (16-1-2) faces Stevens (17-2-1) in the other contest on Saturday with the winners advancing to the Sectional Final on Sunday, November 20 at 1:00 pm. The winner of the Sectional Tournament advances to the Final Four which will take place on December 2-3 at Blossom Soccer Stadium in San Antonio, Texas.

Montclair State advanced to the Sectional Tournament for the fourth time in six years after knocking off Framingham State and Dickinson College last weekend in the First and Second Rounds at MSU Soccer Park. MSU blanked Framingham, 5-0 behind five different goal scorers before beating Dickinson 2-1 in thrilling fashion as sophomore Dan Mendoza (Hackensack, NJ / Hackensack) buried a free kick for the game-winning goal in the 104th minute.

The Red Hawks are making their sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, its 12th trip to the Division III Tournament (1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011) and 15th overall. Montclair went to three NCAA College Division Tournaments in 1968, 1969 and 1972. The Red Hawks are now 10-13-1 in those 15 appearances, 8-10-1 in the Division III tournament.

In 2006, Montclair's first appearance in the Sectional Tournament, the Red Hawks were eliminated by Dominican College (IL) in penalty kicks. The following year, MSU knocked off New Jersey City, 3-2 in overtime to advance to the Elite 8 where it fell to Messiah College, 1-0. In 2008, Montclair State suffered its only loss in a 21-1 season to Messiah as the Falcons edged MSU, 1-0 in the Sectional Tournament at Christopher Newport.

It appeared as though Montclair would again run into the Falcons, who have won each of the last three NCAA titles and eight of 11 overall. However, that matchup was derailed by Neumann, which upset Messiah, 1-0 in overtime on Sunday handing the Falcons their first home loss since 2001. Instead it will be the Knights taking on the Red Hawks. There is a limited history between the two squads, but one with recent meetings.

Montclair State has won all three meetings beginning with an 8-0 home victory in 2002. Six years later, the teams met again in 2008 with MSU picking up a 3-1 victory. Only current senior Sean Pauls (Denville, NJ / Morris Knolls) played in the contest. The next season, Montclair registered a 1-0 victory in Aston, PA as Larry Geraghty scored off a direct kick with 13:03 remaining in the second half.

Breaking into the tournament field for just the second time in program history, Neumann has engineered a pair of impressive upsets, knocking off No. 25 Salisbury in the opening round prior to its upset of Messiah. Relying on a stingy backline that ranked first in the CSAC in goals allowed (16) and second in shutouts (8), the Knights have yet to allow a goal in this year’s championship.

Andrew Leissing, who had the game-winning goal against Messiah, currently tops the CSAC in goals (17), while tallying a team-high 35 points. Also  a threat offensively is Dan Chrashewsky, who has 12 points on two goals and eight assists, and Evan Morgan who enters the sectionals with three markers and three helpers. Anchoring the Knight defense all season has been senior goalkeeper Bob Mastrillo. Going 12-3-1 in 2011, the Tabernacle, N.J. native leads the CSAC in goals-against average (0.78), save percentage (0.819) and shutouts (7).

Should Montclair State advance, it could face a familar foe in Stevens. The Red Hawks and Stevens have met eight times with MSU holding a 6-2 advantage in the series, however Stevens won the most recent contest two years ago as the Ducks ended Montclair's NCAA record 45-game home winning streak with a 4-0 victory in the second round of the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

The Red Hawks have never faced Amherst in its history.