Eastern Maine rivals Husson University and Maine Maritime Academy will square off in men’s and women’s semifinal action this weekend with berths in the North Atlantic Conference championship games at stake.
In addition, the fourth-seeded Husson University women’s field hockey team, 6-7 overall and 4-3 in the conference, will entertain fifth seed Lasell in a conference quarterfinal on Saturday at 3:30. Lasell is 7-10 and 3-4, respectively.
The second-seeded Husson women’s soccer team, 13-5 overall and 6-1 in the conference, will host third seed MMA (9-6-1, 4-2-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. with the Husson men, the conference regular season champions at 8-8-2 and 5-0-2, respectively, hosting fourth seed MMA (8-5-2, 4-2-1) on Sunday at 1.
The Eagles have won the last three NAC titles.
“We’re playing pretty well,” said Husson coach Keith Bosley whose Eagles beat MMA 1-0 in Castine on Oct. 2.
“The heart of our team has been Kylan Smith and Amy Sanz in the middle [of the midfield]. They’re as good as anybody in New England. And Caitlin Butterfield is as good a center back as anyone in New England,” said Bosley. “And our outside midfielders have been the main difference lately.”
Michelle Manning, Katie McLaughlin, Amanda Gifford and Emily Zurcher switch in at the outside midfield slots.
The Eagles have outscored their opponents 53-16 and have a multi-faceted attack that includes Shelby Bradford (13 goals, 7 assists), University of Vermont transfer Alex Laniewski (11 & 4), Megan Clement (5 & 3) and Megan LaJoie (4 & 3). Smith has 5 & 2 and Bates College transfer Gifford has 5 & 0.
Goalkeeper Jen Plourde has a miniscule 0.31 goals-against average and an impressive .919 save percentage.
The Husson coach expects a good battle from the Mariners.
“They tend to play a bit defensively. You don’t usually have a lot of opportunities against them. They’re difficult to play against,” said Bosley. “We’re going to have to be on top of our game.”
Calle Thompson (8 & 1), Katie Hutchinson (5 & 3), Alexis Bennett (5 & 1), Emily Brogdon (4 & 3) and Diana Manatt-Rogers (4 & 0) have paced MMA along with veteran goalkeeper Lacey Jackson (1.28, .842).
The youthful Husson men got off to a 3-6-1 start but are peaking of late as they enter Sunday’s fray with a 4-0-1 mark over their last five games including a 6-0 thumping of rival University of Maine-Farmington.
“Something has clicked and we’re playing real well right now,” said Husson sophomore striker Tyler Metevier. “We’ve got much more chemistry and we know what we need to do [to be successful].”
He said the convincing win over UMF has given them additional confidence and they have received a big boost from the return of back and captain Billy Shannon, who had missed most of the season (foot infection).
“We did well without him but we do much better with him. He’s a captain and a leader and gives us an older player we need on the field,” said Metevier who added that moving Justin Gauvin from the back to the midfield has been a positive tactical move.
Husson has been led by Mark Trombley (7 & 6), Metevier (7 & 2), Alex Martin (5 & 1) and John DeStefano (5 & 1) along with Edwin Acosta (4 & 2) and goalkeeper Miguel Dominguez (2.23, .710). MMA has been paced by Nate Tipton (12 & 2) along with Greg Smith (5 & 3), Ben Russell (3 & 4) and ‘keeper Jeff Butland (1.06, .850).
Husson beat MMA 2-1 in double overtime on Oct. 2 in Castine.
Travers Evans coaches both MMA teams.
The Husson field hockey team, under first-year coach Katie Flaherty, has been sparked by Jillian Morin (5 & 3), Courtney Allen (5 & 3), Emily Woodbury (5 & 0) and Helen Berry (4 & 1) while Lasell’s catalysts have been Sarah Jannuzzi (8 & 8) and Tia Pratt (8 & 5).