Men's Soccer Hosts Colby-Sawyer in NAC Championship

Men's Soccer Hosts Colby-Sawyer in NAC Championship

CASTLETON, Vt. – On the heels of its fifth straight shutout to secure a spot in the North Atlantic Conference Championship, the top-seeded Castleton men's soccer team is set to host second-seeded Colby-Sawyer for the conference title Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.

Castleton (11-6-2) is looking to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008 after defeating New England College, 2-0, in the semifinals Wednesday night. Fidele Rutayisire got the Spartans on the board in the first half and assisted on an insurance goal by NAC Rookie of the Year Seraphin Iradukunda late in the second half. The stifling Spartan defense notched their seventh conference shutout behind three saves from senior keeper Aaron Parker, who now has a 1.17 goals-against average to go with a .790 save percentage on the season.

Iradukunda has scored in five consecutive matches and leads the team with 32 points on 14 goals and four assists. Rutayisire sits second on the team with 17 points (7g, 3a), while Jack Kingdon has a team-high nine assists and has added three goals for 15 points. Defensively, the Spartans have conceded just four goals against conference foes this season.

Colby-Sawyer (11-6) got goals from four different players to shake off sixth-seeded Maine Maritime's upset bid in the semifinals. The Chargers came back from a deficit twice to defeat the Mariners, 4-3, and advance to the conference championship for the second time since joining the league in 2011. Ryan Player tied the match at 2-2 in the second half, and after the Mariners retook a 3-2 lead, Noah Camelo and Mohamed Jafar scored the final two goals of the match to secure the victory for Colby-Sawyer.

NAC Player of the Year Denali Sexton did not play in the semifinal match but still leads Colby-Sawyer in goals (11), assists (11), and points (33). Jake Sykes has tallied six goals and added eight assists, while Camelo and Ahamad Raji have combined for 25 points on 11 goals and three assists. Defensively, Shane Sacks is 9-2 on the year with a 1.12 goals-against average and .771 save percentage.  

The two teams faced eachother earlier in the regular season at Spartan Stadium, with Castleton coming away with a 2-0 victory. Iradukunda scored both goals, while Parker made seven saves in the shutout. The winner of the NAC Championship earns an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.