So, We Meet Again
In the postseason for the first time since 2009, Clark University will square off against Springfield College in the second NEWMAC Tournament Semifinal on Saturday.
The last Clark postseason berth also found them in semifinal action but this time against Wheaton in a game played at Babson. The Lyons scored the game-winning goal with eight seconds left in double overtime to steal the 3-2 victory.
The Cougars enter the semifinals with a 14-4 record - the most wins since 2005 when they went 14-4-2 and advanced to the championship game of the ECAC Tournament.
This season's appearance in the NEWMAC Tournament is the program's 13th overall dating back to 1998.
The Tide Will Turn
The semifinal matchup between the Cougars and Pride will be their sixth all-time meeting in the league tournament with Springfield holding a 4-1 advantage.
Clark's lone postseason win against the Pride came during the 2005 campaign when Sattha Prasitwarakul scored the match's lone goal in the 86th minute to send the Cougars to the tournament semifinals.
Off And Running
Clark opened the season on fire, going a perfect 9-0 in September and outscoring their opponents 18-3 during that stretch.
The Cougars enter the semifinals with 33 goals this season - 13 more than they scored in all of last season. The 33 goals are the most in a season since Clark scored 38 in 2012.
Clark is a combined 0-3 against the other teams in the semifinal round. They dropped one goal decisions to both Babson and Springfield before a 4-0 loss to Wheaton in the regular season finale.
Clark and Springfield actually played for the NEWMAC Championship back in 1999. The Pride prevailed in overtime 2-1 to grab the conference's automatic NCAA berth.
November 6, 1999
Nearly 17 years to the day, Clark defeated Babson 3-2 in double-overtime to advance to the program's only NEWMAC Championship game. The Cougars entered the tournament ranked fourth and were under .500 when they pulled off the stunning upset of the regular season champion Beavers.
Who Could Have Known
Clark head coach Matt O'Toole spent two years on the Wheaton sidelines coaching against the Cougars during the 2002 and 2003 season. During that stretch, the Lyons defeated the Scarlet and White three times by a combined score of 8-1, including a 2-0 win in the 2003 NEWMAC Quarterfinals.
Nice To Meet You
The makeup of the current Clark roster features more underclassmen than upperclassmen, 13-11. Of those 13 underclassmen, nine of them are freshmen.
Clark enters the matchup with a balanced attack as four different players have ten points or more - the first time that has happened since the 2012 season.
Stuck In Neutral
The semifinal meeting with the Pride will only be Clark's second neutral site contest of the year. They defeated Rhode Island College, 2-0 to open the season at Roger Williams.
The first meeting with Springfield this season was an exciting one. The teams were a combined 17-0-2 back on October 1. Each team had a one goal lead before Luke Alvaro headed home the game-winner in the 84th minute.
Reversal Of Fortune
In 2015, Clark lost seven games by one goal, including five games by a 1-0 score. So far this season the Scarlet and White have won six games by one goal have won three of their five 1-0 contests.
Nice To Have Two
The Cougars' goalkeeping tandem of Connor Maguire (Dunstable, Mass.) and Alistair Richardson (Tolland, Conn.) have worked out masterfully. Richardson is undefeated at 7-0-0 and leads the NEWMAC in save percentage (.852) and goals against average (0.63). Maguire, meanwhile, has seven wins of his own and is third in the league in saves (54) and save percentage (.818).
Evan From Heaven
Evan Jurkowski (Ludlow, Mass.) has been incredibly clutch in his first season. Three of his four goals are game winners, including his strike in a 2-1 double-overtime win over WPI and then his tally in the 90th minute in a 1-0 triumph at Emerson. He also scored the lone goal in the 61st minute of a win at Bridgewater State.
Sean Munroe (Silver Spring, Md.) finished the regular season as the conference sixth-leading scorer (18 points) and was named league player of the week in early October. He has two games this season with two goals and another where he had two assists.
Senior T.J. Zirkman (Freehold, N.J.) enters this weekend with a career-high five goals this season. He has been stellar on penalty kicks, converting all three of his attempts this season. In fact, the Cougars as a team are 6-for-6.
Junior backline general Ethan Ziemba (Glen Gardner, N.J.) has started every game of his Clark career beginning with a 6-0 win over Becker College on August 29, 2014. In all, he has played in 54 consecutive contests and earlier this year was named NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Week.
Two academic awards rolled in for the Cougars this week. First, last season's team was named a NSCAA All-Academic Team for having a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Then, five members - Connor Maguire, Alistair Richardson, Michael Spanos (Waterford, Conn.), Ethan Ziemba and TJ Zirkman - were all named to the NEWMAC Academic All-Conference team for having individual cumulative GPA's of 3.50 or higher.
Blais Of Glory
A NEWMAC Second-Team All-Conference selection as a junior, Zack Blais (Tiverton, R.I.) is a Cougar to keep an eye on. He is second on the team in scoring with 13 points (five goals, three assists) and scored on the Scarlet and White's two goals in their meeting earlier this season with Springfield.
Sharing The Rock
11 different Cougars have at least one assist leading to the team's 23 helpers - their most since 2012. Surprisingly, it is a pair of freshmen who share the team-lead in Sean Munroe and Trevor Sheridan (Massapequa, N.Y.).