KINGS POINT, N.Y. (Nov 4, 2016) – On Saturday, the top-seeded U.S. Merchant Marine Academy men's soccer team will host the #6-seed Sage Gators in the 2016 Skyline Conference Championship Game. Kickoff is scheduled for 12-noon at Brooks Stadium.
How They Got Here
The Mariners earned the Skyline Regular Season Championship and the #1 overall seed in the conference playoffs after finishing the regular season with a 10-1 record in league play. As the top seed, USMMA received a bye through the first round of the tourney into the semifinals. In the semis, Merchant Marine defeated #4 Farmingdale State, 3-2. USMMA boasts a 12-4-2 overall record under 27th-year head coach Michael Smolens and the Mariners are currently riding an eight-game winning streak.
Sage is the defending Skyline Conference Champion from 2015. The Gators locked up the #6 seed by winning their last two games of the regular season over St. Joseph's-L.I. and Sarah Lawrence, finishing with a 5-5-1 Skyline record, part of a 7-7-5 overall record under first-year head coach Keith Simons. The Gators got to the 2016 Skyline Conference Final by advancing past #3-seed Old Westbury, 4-3 in penalty kicks after the two teams played to a 1-1 tie in the First Round last Saturday and then upsetting second-seeded Mount St. Mary, also in penalty kicks 4-2, after another 1-1 tie. Sage is the first #6 seed to reach the Skyline Finals since Purchase did back in the 2014 season.
Last Time They Met
These two teams met this season back on Tuesday, Oct. 18, up in Albany. The Gators struck first in the 11th minute by junior Derlis Zayas. Merchant Marine was able to erase a 1-0 halftime deficit with two second-half goals. Junior Jon Tarbox (Gettysburg, Pa.) evened the match with his sixth goal of the year in the 55th Minute. Senior Tim Hughes (Ballston Lake, N.Y.) scored the go-ahead goal in the 89th minute from Tarbox and senior Gavin Yingling (Salisbury, Md.). USMMA outshot Sage 16-10 in the match.
Players To Watch
For Merchant Marine, Gavin Yingling is the Skyline leader with 19 goals (eighth in the nation) and 40 points (16th in the nation). He has 17 goals against conference opponents. Yingling's 39 career goals are third all-time school history and his 19 tallies this year are second most in a single season in USMMA history. Jon Tarbox is second in the Skyline Conference with 13 assists and his 0.76 assists per game rank fourth in the nation, while his 25 points is second on the team.
At midfield, senior David Burkhardt (Cutchogue, N.Y.) is second on the team with seven assists. Junior Hannes Rogers (Weinheim, Germany) comes in third on the team with four goals and 11 points.
The Mariner defense, led by senior Cory Maier (Hampton, Va.) in goal and junior Brian Nickel (North Canton, Ohio) and sophomore Neil Painter (New Cumberland, Pa.) on the back line, has helped lead the squad to eight shutouts this season. Maier has recorded the decision in all 18 games thus far, with four solo shutouts (and four combined), and a Skyline-best 1.01 goals against average to go along with a .757 save percentage with 53 saves.
The Gators are led by sophomore forward River Seybolt, their leader in goals with 15 and points with 32. He has six conference goals in his last four games and nine of 15 goals are against conference opponents. Derlis Zayas is second on his team with six goals and 14 points. Zayas had the only goal in the last matchup against USMMA. Sophomore Ryan Fairweather and senior Anthony Williamson lead this defense with 36 combined starts between the two of them. Freshman keeper Mike Chiaravallotti has started the last seven games and had a season-high seven saves last USMMA match. Junior Caelan Kohut is tops in the conference with 15 goals allowed but his has not started the last seven Matches.
Live stats and a live video feed of the Skyline Championship match-up on Saturday will be available. The USMMA Sports Network's John Kelly Jr. will be on the mike to call all of the action. To access the live stats of the contest, click here. For the free live video feed, follow this link.
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Skyline MSOC Finals Preview: #1 Mariners Host #6 Sage At Noon On Saturday At Noon