The Daily Star
---- — Staff Report
So much for preseason polls.
The Mid-American Conference Tournament semifinals for men’s soccer will feature Hartwick College and Western Michigan, who were selected by the coaches of the seven-team league in August to finish the 2013 season last and second-to-last, respectively.
Instead, the two teams will meet at 4 p.m. today at Akron with a berth in the MAC Tournament championship game at stake. The other semifinal features fourth-seeded West Virginia (7-6-5, 2-2-2) and top-seeded host Akron (14-3-1, 5-1) at 7 p.m. today. Semifinal winners will play for the conference tournament title and an automatic spot in the NCAA Division I Tournament at 1 p.m. Sunday at Akron.
The Zips and the Mountaineers were picked to finish 1-2, respectively, in the MAC coaches preseason poll. Hartwick (5-8-4, 3-2-1) defeated both teams during the regular season, following a 2-0 upset at Akron with a 1-0 win over visiting West Virginia at Elmore Field. The Zips were ranked ninth in the country at the time of their only conference loss.
Despite falling to Buffalo (2-1) and Western Michigan (1-0) in back-to-back MAC games, the Hawks played host Bowling Green to a 1-all tie before clinching the third seed in the four-team playoffs with a 2-1 defeat of Northern Illinois in double-overtime at Elmore Field. Jhevaughn Beckford tied the score in the second half of Hartwick’s regular-season MAC finale and Max Walcott scored the winner in the second overtime.
Walcott’s goal put Hartwick in the MAC tournament semifinals for the first time since 2009. The Hawks, who reached the conference tournament in 2007, 2008 and 2009, are 2-2-2 in MAC playoff games.
“We’re very happy to have earned our playoff berth this year and we’ll be giving it our best against Western Michigan (today),” fourth-year Hartwick coach John Scott, who will be making his first MAC Tournament appearance, said in a media release from the college. “Traveling out to Akron gives us the opportunity to play on a superb playing surface and that in itself will have our team looking forward to the game.”
Western Michigan (8-8-1) finished 4-1-1 against conference foes for the second seed in the MAC Tournament. Marco Lobo scored for the Broncos in the first half of their regular-season victory over Hartwick on Oct. 19.
Should Hartwick get past Western Michigan today, the Hawks will face a team they already have defeated this season in Sunday’s final.
Kit Tregear and Chris Walter scored for Hartwick in its 2-0 victory over Akron on Oct. 5, when goalie Mateo Munarriz made a college-best 13 saves to preserve the shutout.
Six days later, the Hawks topped West Virginia, 1-0, on the strength of a first-half goal by Dean Fowler. Although the Mountaineers took 14 shots, Munarriz earned the shutout with no saves.
Will Broomfield enters today’s semifinal as Hartwick’s scoring leader, with team-highs of 10 points and four goals. Walcott has scored three times this season for the Hawks, who have received two goals apiece from Walter and Beckford.
Munarriz has played in every minute in goal for Hartwick this season. He has four shutouts and a goals against average of 1.04.
Oneonta State senior Luke Halberg, juniors Justin Rivera and Scott Taglione, and sophomore Dylan Williams received First Team honors from the SUNY Athletic Conference, the Red Dragons announced Thursday.
Halberg has four goals and two assists for the Red Dragons (11-4-4), who received an at-large berth for the NCAA Division III Tournament and will play a first-round game against Oberlin at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Rochester.
The SUNYAC’s 2011 Rookie of the Year, Rivera has one goal and five assists. Taglione has scored twice for the Red Dragons, who have received a team-best 10 goals and three assists from Williams.
Sophomore Jake Sutherland and freshman Anthony Passiatore made the SUNYAC’s Second Team for Oneonta, which placed junior goalie Vincent Pellegrino on the conference’s Third Team.
Last season, Halberg and Rivera made the SUNYAC’s First Team and Taglione was a third-teamer.
MEN’S BASKETBALLHartwick second in poll
Hartwick received two first-place votes in the Empire 8 Conference preseason men’s basketball poll en route to 39 points as the Hawks have been selected to finish second out of the league’s eight teams.
The Hawks missed the top spot in the coaches’ poll by one point as St. John Fisher received three first-place votes and 40 points.
Defending E8 champion Ithaca and Stevens Institute of Technology tied for third with 38 points. Nazareth (27), Elmira (18), Utica (16) and Alfred (8) rounded out the poll.
Preseason All-American Jared Suderley will lead the Hawks into their season opener at 2 p.m. today, when Hartwick plays Ursinus in a first-round game of the Messiah Tournament. Suderley has led the Hawks in scoring for the last three seasons.
Three other area college basketball teams will begin their seasons today as well.
Oneonta State’s men will play the host of the Rochester Tournament in a first-round game at 8 p.m.; O-State’s women have a 6 p.m. first-round game against Hamilton in the Skidmore Invitational; and Cobleskill’s women play at 2 p.m. today against Rochester Institute of Technology in the opening round of the Ziel Tournament at Oswego.
On Saturday, Cobleskill’s men and Hartwick’s women will play their season openers. Cobleskill’s men visit Alfred at 2 p.m. and Hartwick’s women will meet Mount Saint Mary at 7:30 p.m. in the first round of the Eastern Connecticut Tournament.