PLYMOUTH, N.H. - For the second straight season and third time in four years, the Plymouth State College men's soccer team has received an invitation to the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament.
This year, though, the Panthers received the top seed in the New England Region, and will host the regional semi-finals and final Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 14-15) at Panther Field. PSC completed an unbeaten regular season, posting a 16-0-2 record with 11 shutouts.
The rest of the New England region includes No. 2 Middlebury (13-1), No. 3 Williams (13-1), No. 4 Amherst (12-2), No. 5 Keene State (15-5) and No. 6 Bowdoin (11-3). PSC will meet the winner of Wednesday's opening round game between Amherst and Keene State in one semi-final Saturday, and Middlebury will face the winner of Wednesday's Williams-Bowdoin match in the other semi-final Saturday. The two winners will battle for the New England regional title Sunday at Panther Field.
"This is an excellent reward for the great season we've had," said PSC head coach Shawn Griffin, the Little East Conference Coach of the Year. "We're excited the NCAA selection committee recognized what an outstanding season we had and rewarded us with the home field for the regional championship. We hope to represent Plymouth State Men's Soccer in a first-class way."
This is the 15th NCAA Tournament appearance for PSC's men's soccer program, and the third under Griffin. The Panthers were knocked out in the first round by eventual national champion Williams in the 1995 tourney, and advanced to the regional final last season before losing to Amherst, 3-2.
PSC's unbeaten regular season, the second in the 42-year history of the program and first since 1978, included a 7-0-0 record in the Little East and a third straight LEC championship. The Panthers have won 15 straight LEC matches dating back to the 1996 season.
There are 319 schools eligible for the NCAA Division III men's soccer tournament, and 40 received invitations Sunday night.
The Panthers feature outstanding depth and balance, as evidence by the seven players named to the All-Conference First Team. Senior Jesse Elderkin (Concord, NH) was named LEC Player of the year, and freshman Antoine Moiboueyi (Gabon, Africa) received the LEC Rookie of the Year. Seniors Danny Gilbertson (London, England), Adam Jordan (Milford, NH) and Shawn Higgins (Foxboro, MA), junior Kevin Martin (Foxboro, MA), and freshman Magnus Eriksson (Karlstad, Sweden) all were voted LEC All-Star First Team members. Higgins, a senior goalkeeper, is third in the nation is goal against average (0.34).
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