The St. Thomas Aquinas College men's soccer team takes the #4 seed into Wednesday's East Coast Conference Tournament, traveling to face #1 Mercy College at 1:00 pm.
How They Got Here - The Spartans wrapped up the regular season with a record of 10-5-1, the program's highest win total since 2011. With their 6-3 mark in conference action. the Spartans secured the fourth and final seed to the ECC Tournament, their first appearance since the 2016 season. STAC entered the final day of the season with a chance to take home the regular season championship, but a loss against Daemen dropped them into the fourth slot. Through the final week, the Spartans were ranked #7 in the NCAA's East Region.
Mercy stormed to an impressive 11-2-1 regular season, good enough for a #9 ranking in the United Soccer Coaches national poll and #2 in the NCAA East Region poll. Their 7-2 conference record was enough for a tie for the regular-season championship with LIU Post, with Mercy earning the top seed via their overtime victory over the Pioneers on October 13.
The Match-Up - In the lone meeting of the season to date, Mercy rode a late goal to a 1-0 decision at STAC on September 15 (recap, boxscore, video). The high-paced affair was a defensive struggle with scoring chances at a minimum until Ignacio Mangada's marker with just 10:48 remaining in regulation was enough to propel the Mavericks to victory. Jack Nicholson made six saves in the STAC net, with Jordan Williams earning the shutout for the visitors.
Players to Watch - The Spartans were among the best defensive teams in the conference, led by standout goalkeeper Jack Nicholson, while the balanced offensive attack is led by Luis Morales' five goals. Ignacio Mangada's eight goals was the team-high for Mercy, tied for third in the ECC, while Jordan Williams anchors the Mavericks in net.
What's Next? - Wednesday's other semi-final sees #2 seeded LIU Post (12-4, 7-2) hosting #3 Queens (10-4-2, 6-2-1) in a 1:00 pm start on Long Island. The winners of those semi-finals will advance to the Tournament Championship game on Saturday, November 3, at the highest remaining seed with start time to be determined.