Two America East men's soccer teams will earn trips to the conference's championship game on Wednesday when semifinal action takes place. Top-seeded Vermont will host fifth-seeded New Hampshire in one semifinal at 1 p.m., while second-seeded UMBC will take on third-seeded Stony Brook at 7 p.m.
The title game will be played on either Saturday, Nov. 10 or Sunday, Nov. 11 at the highest remaining seed. A live, high-definition telecast of the game will be available for free at AmericaEast.com.
Vermont (8-4-5), the America East regular-season champion and tournament No. 1 seed for the first time since 1989, enters the semifinals after earning a quarterfinal round bye and losing just once in its last 13 games (7-1-5). The Catamounts, who became just the second America East squad to complete an unbeaten conference schedule since 1997, are one of the best defensive teams in the country, ranking 35th nationally with a 0.87 team goals-against average. Junior goalkeeper Conor Leland is a major reason for UVM's success. The America East Goalkeeper of the Year leads the conference in GAA (0.79), save percentage (.846) and is tied for the league lead in shutouts (7). First-team All-America East midfielder Joe Losier is the team's leading scorer and ranks eighth in the league with 14 points on six goals and two assists.
New Hampshire (6-7-5), which is looking to reach its second league title game in three years, earned a trip to the semifinals by beating Albany 5-4 in penalty kicks Saturday in the quarterfinals following a scoreless tie, its fourth straight shutout in America East Championship play dating back to 2010. Robbie Palumbo converted the first kick of sudden death to break the 4-4 deadlock and send the Wildcats to the league's Final Four for the third time in four years and fifth in the last seven. Defense is also UNH's trademark as it has allowed just two scores in its last four games and had three shutouts. The Wildcats are led by first-team all-conference defender Jordan Thomas and sophomore goalkeeper Travis Worra, who ranks third in America East in GAA (0.97) and is tied for the league lead with seven shutouts.
The Catamounts own a 34-14-6 advantage all-time against the Wildcats in a series that dates back to 1964, including a 4-1-0 mark in America East Championship play. The two teams last met in the tournament in the 2007 semifinals, which UVM won 2-0 en route to capturing its second conference title. Vermont has dominated the series of late going 9-1-5 against UNH in the last 15 meetings, although the two teams have played to double-overtime ties in each of their last two meetings, including a scoreless draw on Oct. 20.
UMBC (10-4-4) is riding a five-game win streak heading into the semifinals after earning the No. 2 seed for the second time in three years. The 2010 conference champion, the Retrievers have outscored their foes, 18-3, during the win streak. Pete Caringi III, the league's Striker of the Year, leads the conference's top scoring offense (1.89 gpg). Nine of his 21 of his points came in America East games, both the fifth-most in league history and most by any player since 2003 and 2001, respectively. UMBC is also tough defensively, led by Defensive Player of the Year Liam Paddock, allowing just 0.94 goals per game, the second- best mark in the league.
Stony Brook (11-5-1), the defending league champ, posted an epic comeback win in the quarterfinals to advance to the semis for the fourth straight year. The Seawolves, who are going for their third league title in four years, scored twice in the final 16 minutes to force overtime with Binghamton on Saturday and won the game on Kyle Casey's score in the 100th minute, 5-4. Alejandro Fritz tied an the single-game tournament record with five points and Stony Brook's five goals also tied the tournament mark. The Seawolves' offense ranks just behind the Retrievers, averaging 1.88 scores per contest. Three-time America East Midfielder of the Year Leonardo Fernandes paces the Seawolves with 25 points on nine goals and seven assists, all second-best among league leaders.
UMBC took a 7-6-0 series in the series over the Seawolves with a 1-0 victory at Stony Brook on Oct. 19. UMBC has won three of the last four matches in the series and is 5-2-0 in seven previous matches vs. Stony Brook in Baltimore. This is the third time in the last four years the two teams have met conference tournament, splitting the previous two meetings. The Seawolves beat the Retrievers, 2-0, in the 2009 title game, while UMBC beat SBU, 3-2, in the 2010 semifinals en route to winning the league crown.
Tickets for the two semifinal contests can be purchased in advance through the Vermont and UMBC ticket offices or at the gate on Wednesday. Prices are $8 for adults, $5 for youth and $2 for students of America East institutions with proper ID. Tickets for the Vermont-UNH semi can be purchased online, in person at the UVM Athletic Ticket Office on the balcony in the main lobby of Patrick Gymnasium (open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.), via the phone by calling 802-656-4410, and one hour before game time at the Gutterson Box Office. Tickets for the UMBC-Stony Brook semi may be obtained online or by calling the UMBC box office at 410-455-2205 from 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Visit America East's Championship Central throughout the tournament for links to in-game coverage, postgame reaction and much more.