Nov. 5, 2011
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – It took until the final day of the regular season again, but the field was finally set for the 2011 Patriot League Men’s Soccer Tournament, which will hail from American University’s Reeves Field in Washington, D.C., beginning Friday, Nov. 11 and concluding Sunday, Nov. 13.
American sewed up the No. 1 seed Saturday and will host fourth seed Navy Friday at 11 a.m. The second semifinal will feature No. 2 Colgate battling third-seeded Lehigh at 2 p.m.
The two semifinal winners will go head-to-head Sunday at 1 p.m. at Reeves Field with the 2011 Patriot League title and accompanying NCAA bid at stake.
American secured the top overall seed in next week’s four-team playoff despite suffering a 1-0 setback at Holy Cross Saturday afternoon in Worcester, Mass. American finished the regular season with a 5-2-0 mark against League teams for 15 points to edge out second-place Colgate, which collected 14 points with a 4-1-2 ledger.
Lafayette’s 2-0 victory at Bucknell kicked off an exciting final day of regular season play. The Leopards stayed alive for the League Tournament but had to watch the scoreboard for the Navy-Colgate and Army-Lehigh contests to find out if they would advance to next weekend’s tournament.
Colgate and Navy played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer to settle for a 0-0 draw in Hamilton, N.Y. Had Colgate emerged victorious, it would have wrapped up the hosting duties for the League Tournament. Instead, the Raiders will be the No. 2 seed next week.
The draw was important for Navy as it garnered the Mids one more point toward a potential playoff berth. Navy and Lafayette then turned their respective gazes to Bethlehem, Pa., where Lehigh was hosting Army. The Mountain Hawks were in with a win or a draw with the Black Knights, but a tie would’ve bounced the Mids and put Lafayette in. Navy also would have qualified had Army defeated Lehigh.
The Mountain Hawks captured a 3-0 victory over the visiting Black Knights to finish the regular season with a 4-2-1 League record for 13 points. Lehigh secured the No. 3 seed with the win. Navy and Lafayette tied for fourth with 11 points, and the two played to a draw during the regular season. In the event there is no head-to-head tiebreaker, a comparison of records is made against the rest of the League starting at the top. Navy owns a 2-1 win over No. 1 seed American, while Lafayette fell 1-0 to the Eagles. That regular-season result gave the Mids the edge for the fourth and final tournament berth.
The top-seeded Eagles will host the other three League teams for the tournament for the first time since a two-year run in 2004-05. American advanced to the title match both years, posting a victory over Lehigh for the 2004 championship and falling to Lafayette a year later. The Eagles have reached the title match each of the last two seasons, falling to Bucknell both times. American, which had already clinched its tournament berth before the last weekend of the regular season, is in for the eighth time and fourth year in a row.
No stranger to the tournament, Colgate is in for the sixth time in the last seven years and 15th overall. Just like the Eagles, the Raiders had wrapped up their berth already and were playing for seeding this weekend. Colgate hosted the four-team field last season but fell to No. 4 Bucknell in the semifinals. The Raiders, who last won the trophy in 2008, are the second seed for the first time since 2007, a year in which they also claimed the championship.
Lehigh is in the tournament for the third straight year and 14th time overall. The Mountain Hawks are making their 10th trip to the four-team field in the last 12 seasons, last missing out during a two-year stretch from 2007-08. Lehigh garnered the second seed in each of the last two years and didn’t make it out of the semifinals in either appearance. It is the No. 3 seed in the 2011 edition of the tournament, a seed it hasn’t occupied since 2005.
Compared to the rest of the field, Navy is the newcomer. The Mids are in the Patriot League Tournament for the first time since 2001, snapping the second-longest active playoff drought in the League. The longest continues to belong to Army, which hasn’t qualified since 1996. Third-year coach Dave Brandt, who came to the Naval Academy before the 2009 season after an incredibly successful run at Messiah, has guided the Mids to the No. 4 seed, which coincidentally was Navy’s position in its last postseason appearance 10 years ago. Navy has been the fourth seed on four previous occasions, going 1-1-2 in the semifinals and falling on penalty kicks twice.