Men's Soccer Season Continues with ECAC bid

Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - page 2
 

The way Brendan McIntyre sees it, playing in the postseason offers something for everyone on the Muhlenberg men’s soccer team – even if it’s not the tournament they were hoping for.

Jeff Reinhart
Jeff Reinhart, who has two goals and an assist this season, is one of 10 Mule seniors who saw their careers extended with the ECAC bid.
Though they ended the regular season just a point shy of the Centennial Conference playoffs, the Mules (9-7-1, 4-4-1) still have much to play for after accepting a bid to the Eastern College Athletic Conference South Championship. Muhlenberg, seeded seventh, travels to third-seeded Marywood on Wednesday for a quarterfinal matchup, with the semifinals to follow on Saturday and the final on Sunday at the highest remaining seed. For the Mules, locking horns with a Pacers squad that reached last year’s ECAC South championship game is a win-win situation.

While McIntyre and the Mules’s nine other seniors get to extend careers they’re not quite ready to complete, the underclassmen will gain valuable experience to take into next year. The prospect of ending an up-and-down season with some hardware never hurts, either.

“In past years we’ve been on the outside looking in, and Muhlenberg has a great tradition of making the playoffs, so the last few years have been disappointing,” McIntyre said. “This is good for the younger guys to get that experience and get that desire to win trophies. For the older guys, we haven’t won anything since we’ve been here, so this is a good opportunity to change that.”

The Mules were still holding out hope for a CC playoff bid after edging McDaniel, 1-0, on the final day of the regular season. They got the help they needed from three of the other four games, but Franklin & Marshall’s victory over Swarthmore, the top seed in the ECAC South Tournament, shut Muhlenberg out of the CC playoffs, but not the postseason.

“It’s like a second life,’ said McIntyre, who is second on the team with four assists this season. “That’s in the past. It was out of our hands, and ever since we found out we didn’t get in we’ve turned the page. We just want to go out and win, and we’re pretty confident we can do that.”

Muhlenberg, which enters Wednesday’s game looking for a third straight victory, has a tough task ahead of it. Marywood (13-3-2) rolled through the CSAC regular season unblemished, taking a 10-game winning streak into last week’s championship. But with an NCAA bid on the line, the Pacers dropped a 1-0 decision to Centenary, settling instead for a return trip to the ECAC Tournament.

Jack Dusing
Freshman Jack Dusing, who played in 16 games and had an assist in the regular season, and the Mules' underclassmen will gain valuable postseason experience in the ECAC South Tournament.
Marywood, which lost a double-overtime thriller against Alvernia in last year’s final, poses a stiff challenge in what figures to be an evenly-matched affair. The Pacers surrendered just 18 goals in 18 games, while the Mules allowed only 16 in their 17 contests. Meanwhile, each program lost a one-goal game at DeSales and Muhlenberg posted a 2-0 victory over Neumann, which Marywood defeated twice.

The Pacers, though, had less trouble finding the back of the net. Five players recorded at least 10 points for a Marywood squad that averaged 2.5 goals per game in the regular season. The Mules, conversely, finished the season with 22 goals, seven of them by junior midfielder Lance Dotzman, who also contributed a team-best five assists to rank sixth in the CC with 19 points. Eleven other players scored for Muhlenberg, but none of them more than twice.

Battling with some of the region’s best teams throughout the regular season, though, has the Mules believing they can match up with anyone.

“We played them my freshman year,” McIntyre said, “and we beat them pretty handily. But things have changed. They won their league, so obviously that speaks to how good they are. Any team with 13 wins must be able to find a way to win. It should be a good game. We think we can play with everyone. We’ve played a lot of good teams and had close games.”

The Mules will look for more consistent play after a regular season full of mixed results. Muhlenberg took fourth-ranked and undefeated Rutgers-Camden down to the wire in the opener before reeling off four straight wins, capped by a 4-0 rout at rival Moravian. Then came three consecutive losses, two of them in overtime, before a 1-0 shutout of eventual CC champion F&M. Muhlenberg then went 0-3-1 in its next four CC games to place itself in a deep hole, and back-to-back victories to close the season weren’t quite enough to dig out of it. Still, having new life with the opportunity to play as many as three more games has the Mules chomping at the bit.

“We’re really excited,” McIntyre said. “Speaking for the seniors, it would be awesome if we could go out with a trophy.”