News Release (Nov. 7, 2005), Athletics

(Monday, Nov. 7, 2005)

(Cardinals to Make First-Ever Appearance with First-Round Game at Muhlenberg


2005 Men's Soccer Team         Defeating Amherst College, 3-2, in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) men's soccer championship game Sunday, November 6 at Williams College, Wesleyan University received the NESCAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships. It will be the first-ever appearance for the Cardinals as NESCAC teams have only been eligible for NCAA tournament play for 13 seasons.
        The NESCAC title is the first by a Wesleyan team in the 12 sports which feature NESCAC post-season tournaments en route to automatic qualification to the NCAAs (field hockey, men's and women's soccer, women's volleyball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's ice hockey, men's and women's lacrosse, baseball and softball).  Men's soccer is the eighth Wesleyan team to qualify for an NCAA tournament, joining women's basketball, men's lacrosse, women's cross country, women's volleyball, women's crew, baseball and women's tennis, which have all earned at-large bids over the past 12 years.
        Wesleyan is the first seventh seed to win a NESCAC tournament as the men's soccer team entered the NESCAC tournament with a 3-4-2 conference record.  Wesleyan traveled to Bowdoin Sunday, October 31, for a first-round game and defeated the second-seeded Polar Bears, 4-1.  After a 3-0 non-conference loss at home to Vassar to end regular-season play, Wesleyan ventured to Williams College for a NESCAC semi-final Saturday, November 5.  There on the strength of an early goal by junior Morgan Owen and the eight-save effort of sophomore goalie Matt Gnall, the Cardinals forged a 1-0 victory over the Ephs, ending a 16-game losing streak to Williams dating back to the 1992 season.  Continuing in the tournament to face fourth-seeded Amherst in the finals, Wesleyan jumped out to a 2-0 edge at halftime thanks to a pair of goals by leading scorer freshman Matt Nevin.  He currently leads the team in points with 16 on six goals and four assists.  After Amherst tied the game with 15 minutes remaining, sophomore Ross Pemmerl launched a long free kick of 50 yards that hit in front of the Amherst net and skidded into the goal with 13 minutes to go.  It was Pemmerl's second goal of the season.  Wesleyan made the lead hold up to secure the NCAA invitation.  Williams also earned an at-large NCAA bid.
        Wesleyan will journey to Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. for a first-round game Wednesday, November 9 at 5 p.m.  The Mules, winners of the Centennial Conference post-season tournament with a 2-0 victory over Gettysburg in the finals, have a 13-5 overall record and are making their 12th appearance in the NCAAs, the last in 2003.
        Wesleyan opened the 2005 season with a 2-2 mark, dropping game to Williams and Middlebury (the third seed in the NESCAC tournament) while defeating Springfield and Trinity.  The Cardinals then went on a seven-game unbeaten streak (4-0-3), including a 1-0 win at NCAA qualifier Wheaton (Mass.) and a 2-2 tie at NCAA participant Western Connecticut.  Tufts ended the team's streak as Wesleyan finished with a 3-3 mark in its final six games but the three wins were all in the NESCAC tournament.  Wesleyan enters the NCAAs with a 9-5-3 record.
        The winner of the Wesleyan-Muhlenberg contest will advance to the second round and a date at defending national champion Messiah in Grantham, Pa.  Messiah enters the tournament with a perfect 19-0 mark.  In total, 57 teams will compete in the 2005 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship.  Thirty-six received automatic bids while 17 received at-large bids as members of automatic qualifying conferences.  Four other team were selected at-large as independents or members of a conference without an automatic bids to the tournament.


        FOLLOW-UP INFORMATION:  Wesleyan defeated Muhlenberg, 3-2 in overtime, in its first-round NCAA game.  Freshman Matt Nevin led Wesleyan with two goals and an assist.  His game-winner came 3:18 into overtime as he picked up a misplayed ball on the left side, drew out the goalie and put a 15-yard shot from a sharp angle into an open net.  Wesleyan advanced to the second round against defending national champion Messiah, dropping a 2-1 decision in overtime.  Nevin spotted the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute for his team-leading ninth goal of the season.  The lead lasted 9:55, the longest Messiah has trailed an opponent all season, and the game entered overtime knotted at 1-1.  Messiah scored 5:31 into the extra frame to improve to 20-0 on the year and went on to claim its fourth national crown in the last six years and second in a row with a 1-0 victory over Gustavus Adolphus in the title game.
      When the NESCAC announced its all-conference squad, Nevin was honored as Rookie of the Year while junior Jared Ashe found a spot on the second team.  Head Coach Geoff Wheeler was named Coach of the Year.