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Chris Ostrander

Bryant & Stratton College Men’s & Women’s Soccer Poised for National Tournament

Not many teams can travel over 500 miles and still say they’re close to home. But the Bryant & Stratton College men’s and women’s soccer teams will be doing just that when they travel to Virginia Beach, VA for the 2016 USCAA National Championships.galleries-83580e85222a19335e75aeb3317c8177-10779128663

While the Bobcats will be three states away from the Syracuse campus, they’ll be just six miles from the Virginia Beach campus location, offering a little bit of a home field feel to this year’s championships.

Both teams enter the tournament with high expectations as each finished in the top-five of their respective polls. The women finished the year 9-4-1 and aside from a non-conference loss to ASA College, only fell to teams who finished above them in the polls. The same goes for the men’s side as the only blemish on their 10-1 season came at the hands of the tournament’s #1 seed, University of Maine-Fort Kent.

Both teams share the challenge of topping UMFK as neither the BSC men or women could topple their foes from the northeast. Yet, strong play kept both Bobcats squads near the top of the USCAA polls all season long and each side was rewarded as the top seed in their respective pools for the National Tournament.

The men enter the tournament as the #3 seed, behind only UMFK and Florida College. BSC’s pool will feature #6 Penn State-Brandywine and #10 University of Maine-Machias. Both Brandywine and Main-Machias represent stiff tests for the Bobcats as the two teams combined for 27 wins and just two losses on the year.

With their only loss coming to UMFK, the Bobcats enter the tournament with one of the strongest resumes available. Bested only by UMFK and Florida College’s undefeated records, the Bobcats boast wins over tournament participants SUNY ESF, SUNY Delhi and Albany College of Pharmacy & Health Science. In the three victories, BSC conceded just once while scoring a combined 17 goals against the three fellow National Championship contenders.

The Bobcats are powered by a multi-pronged attack that features five players who have scored four or more goals but only one leading scorer, Alex Pompo, appearing in all 11 games. Despite the lack of a bona fide poacher on the attack, BSC still finished third in the nation in goals per game with 5.27. Their total off 58 goals is 40 fewer than the national leaders but the Bobcats played far fewer games than the teams that rank above them in total goals, indicating that the Bobcats’ overall scoring rank may be deceiving to some.

At the front of the Bobcats attack will be Gontzal Gili Balaguer (9 goals), Matthieu LeRoux (8 goals) and Pompo (7 goals). Meanwhile, Refik Begic and Harry Watson have split most of the time in goal this season, sharing five clean sheets and giving head coach Nick Dimitrievski a tough decision once the games are underway.

image002The men’s squad will kickoff their assault on the National Championship on Thursday, November 10 against Penn State-Brandywine at 2:00. Their second pool play game comes the following day with another 2:00 kickoff against Maine-Machias. The winners of each pool advance to the elimination round where the final four teams face off in a single elimination format.

On the women’s side, the Bobcats again enter the tournament as the top seed in their group, but as the #4 seed they’ll have tighter competition to overcome. They’ll face #5 Cleary University and the #9 seed, the Penn State University Athletic Conference champion.

One first glance, the women’s season is one of fits and starts. The squad never won more than three games in a row with three of their four losses coming by two goals or less and being shutout twice (one instance was a 0-0 draw). That, despite scoring five or more goals in five contests this season.

The Bobcats feature a trio of deadly scorers who, if market poorly are capable of scoring at will. Kai Jacobs has been dominant for the entire year, scoring 12 goals and adding a staggering 11 assists on the year. She’s not the only Bobcat capable of providing a well-placed final pass as Lissette Rodriguez, Maria Vela and Andrea Giron all have five or more helpers on the season. That trio has played a major role in the success of Jacobs and her fellow leading scorers, Portia Davis and Shareka Joseph.

Both Davis and Joseph boast nine goals a piece and combined with Jacobs’ efforts, they account for nearly 60% of BSC’s offense on the year. The trio are also the most likely to tally a winning goal for the Bobcats, as may be expected given the share of the offense they contributed. In total the trio have seven of BSC’s nine game winners this season with Davis picking up four on her own.

You can expect to see Megan Hagadorn in goal for the Bobcats as she played in 12 of BSC’s 14 games this year, collecting a 6-4-1 record. However, don’t rule out Lissette Infante playing some sort of role as her two starts both resulted in wins this year, giving Alex Grigorita two strong choices in net.

The action for the women kicks off on Friday, November 11 at 10:00 when they face Cleary. Their second game comes at 10:00 am on the 12th against Penn State. Should they advance, the Bobcats will play the winner of pool A, which includes old friends, University of Maine-Fort Kent.

Keep up with all the action at the Bryant & Stratton College athletics website: www.bscbobcats.com. If you wish to watch the men’s and women’s selection shows, the links are available below:

USCAA Men’s Soccer Selection Show

USCAA Women’s Soccer Selection Show


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