Men’s soccer earns at-large bid to NCAA Tournament

Leila Raines/The Miscellany News.

For the fifth time in program history, and for the first time since 2016, Vassar men’s soccer is going dancing.

After a brutal defeat in the Liberty League tournament semifinals to Skidmore by way of penalty kicks, the Brewers’ season hung in the balance heading into Monday’s selection show.

Vassar had earned the second overall seed in the Liberty League tournament, but the loss to Skidmore meant it had not completely knocked the third-seeded Thoroughbreds out of contention for a spot in the national tournament.

The Brewers might have had the stronger regular season performance, but the selection committee still had to consider Skidmore’s postseason success to decide which team to choose for the field of 64.

Vassar and Skidmore were not necessarily directly pitted against each other for a specific spot in the tournament, but when two conference rivals have such similar résumés, it is rare to see both selected if they are not ranked sufficiently high enough in the regional rankings.

The Brewers’ hopes were aided by St. Lawrence, the Liberty League’s regular season king, solidifying the top spot and defeating Skidmore in the Liberty League Championship. The league playoff title earned St. Lawrence an automatic bid to NCAA’s, nullifying the threat to the Brewers’ tournament hopes. Had St. Lawrence lost to Skidmore, Skidmore would have automatically advanced into the tournament, and St. Lawrence would have almost certainly taken the at-large bid, all but ending the Brewers’ tournament hopes.

With St. Lawrence out of the way, the Brewers’ regular season résumé proved sufficient to earn them a first round matchup against Babson College.

The game will take place on the campus of Bowdoin College on Saturday, Nov. 12. Babson is ranked 13th in the country and enters the tournament as NEWMAC cham- pions for the third straight season. The team also finished conference postseason play atop the Region II rankings.

Babson is a storied program, led by 37th-year Head Coach John Anderson who has now led 19 Babson teams to the NCAA tournament. Vassar finished conference postseason play third in the Region III rankings and is led on the offensive side and midfield by Owen Fauth ’23, Ryan Lane ’23 and Duncan Keker ’25, who were all named to the All-League First Team on Tuesday. Defensively, the Brewers had goalkeeper Eric Wnorowski ’23 and defensemen Nolan Alexander ’23 and Danny Berry ’25 named to the All-League Second Team.

Saturday’s matchup will mark the first time Vassar and Babson face off in men’s soccer, meaning there is no recent history to hint at what to expect on Saturday. Comparisons through common matchups are also difficult. Vassar did not play any NEW-MAC teams this season, and Babson did not face any Liberty League opponents. Even in out-of-conference play, the teams do not share any common opponents.

For the Brewers, the opportunity to compete in the NCAA tournament is another milestone in a highly successful 2022 season under the guidance of new Head Coach Jonathan Hood. If the team wins, they’ll advance to play the winner of Bowdoin College and the Merchant Marine Academy the next day.

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