JERSEY CITY—In a season of firsts for the New Jersey City University’s women’s soccer team, cross “qualify for a postseason tournament” off Coach ROBERT BIELAN’s to do list.
After registering a 12-8 regular season record while proving to be one of the top scoring offenses in NCAA Division III, the Gothic Knights have been selected as the No. 3 seed for the 2009 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III Metro Tournament, which will begin on Wednesday, November 11.
The Gothic Knights, who had only recorded one winning season in the first 16 years of their history, will be playing in a post-season tournament for the first time in school history and will face sixth-seeded Mount Saint Mary College (9-8-2) in the ECAC Quarterfinals in Jersey City, NJ at 2 p.m. at the Robert L. McNulty Memorial Soccer Field.
NJCU defeated MSMC in the 2009 season opener on September 1 in Newburgh, NY, 4-1, outshooting the Blue Knights, 24-4. NJCU has won three of the last four meetings; MSMC leads the all-time series, 7-4-1.
“Today was an amazing day for soccer at NJCU,” said Bielan, in his fourth season with the program. “When the players found out [of the selection] they were all excited and realized the fruits of their labor had come to fruition. Our preseason goals were to make the NJAC and ECAC Tournaments. We just missed making the NJACs, but are happy to have qualified for the ECACs. This has definitely been a good learning experience for these players, that if you don’t quit, you will succeed.”
It will be the first game for NJCU in 13 days, since dropping a 2-1 decision at Montclair State University in the final regular season game on October 29. Prior to that game, NJCU had won five of its last six games.
The winner of the NJCU/MSMC game will face the winner of #2 seeded William Paterson University (10-7-3) and seventh-seeded SUNY Old Westbury (8-8-2) in the ECAC Semifinals on Saturday, November 14 at 4 p.m. That game will be played at a neutral site at Lubetkin Field on the campus of New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, NJ.
NJCU owns wins over both potential semifinal opponents, having defeated Old Westbury, 1-0, on September 11 in a neutral-site tournament game. The Gothic Knights posted a 3-1 win over New Jersey Athletic Conference foe William Paterson on October 14 in Jersey City.
The other half of the bracket features #1 seeded New York University (9-8-1), which receives a bye into the semifinals of the seven-team tournament against the quarterfinal winner between fourth-seeded Bard College (10-6-4) and fifth-seeded SUNY Purchase (8-7-3), on November 14 at 1:30 p.m.
The championship game will be contested on Sunday, November 15 at 2 p.m. at Lubetkin Field, regardless of the advancing teams.
The selection to the 2009 ECAC Tournament is yet another highlight for the Gothic Knights, who are enjoying by far the best season in program history.
Weeks prior to the 2006 season, Bielan took over a program which had won five or less games in 11 consecutive seasons and had posted only one winning season in its first 13 years of existence. While it took several years to build the program into a winner (the Knights were 3-15 his first year, 7-11 in 2007 and 9-10 in 2008), he has proven that the main ingredient lacking was dedication and consistency.
Bielan said: “When I first came here, I said consistency is what is going to take this program to the next level. As an alumnus, I made my commitment to the school and the program, and I always took pride in taking this program to a competitive, legitimate level. People at NJCU believed in the program and the coaching staff. This year, we are on the doorstep and only good things will happen from here. The program has matured and has a strong foundation and we’ll continue building for the future.”
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