|Men's Soccer Preview: #23 William & Mary|
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – Second-seeded UNCW opens the Colonial Athletic Association championship semifinal round on Thursday with a 4 p.m. kickoff against nationally-ranked and third-seed William & Mary at Vidas Field.
The Seahawks enter the game on a hot run with a mark of 3-0-1 that includes wins over three teams that are in this week’s national rankings. In their most recent action, sophomore Colin Bonner propelled the Seahawks past visiting Northeastern with a hat trick in a 4-2 win over the defending CAA champions. While Bonner stole the show, it was junior Jamie Dell who notched the eventual game-winner in the second half. During that four-game span, UNCW earned road wins over UNC Chapel Hill and Delaware. Both of whom were in the top-25 of the RPI at the time of the game.
Bonner, who finished the regular season with a team-high 15 points on six goals and three assists, was named second-team All-CAA on Wednesday. As a freshman, he also led the Seahawks with 12 points on six goals, also a team-leading total.
Defensively, the Seahawks have made tremendous strides from last season. UNCW has allowed 20 goals entering the tournament, its lowest total since 2010 when they allowed just 13. Keying that defense has been junior Jacob VanCompernolle, who was named first-team All-CAA. UNCW has limited opponents to just 4.5 shots on goal per game this season. Between the posts, sophomore Sam Williams and freshman Sean Melvin have been strong all season. Williams posted a 0.96 goals against average during a seven-game span midway through the season.
Being the number-two seed is something new for the Seahawks, having never been in that position before. UNCW, which was picked to finish fifth by the league’s coaches in the preseason order of finish, was the top seed in both 2008 and 2009 and most recently the sixth-seed last season. The Seahawks will also be looking to top William & Mary for the first time in the CAA tournament, trailing the all-time series, 4-0. The two have not met in the tournament though since 2001.
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