NORTH ANDOVER, Mass.- The eighth-seeded Merrimack men's soccer team will look to play the role of spoiler as it takes on the top-seed in the tournament, No. 1 Franklin Pierce. The Warriors finished the year with an overall record of 9-7-1 and a 5-7-1 mark in the Northeast-10 Conference. The host Ravens went 14-1-1 on the year and 12-0-1 in the league to claim the regular season crown. The contest is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.
Tony Martone's team began the season on a six-match winning streak before falling to Franklin Pierce 2-1 September 26. The Warriors spent four straight weeks in the NSCAA National Poll, reaching as high as No. 14 this season. Five members of the men's soccer team were named to the Northeast-10 All-Conference teams this season.
Merrimack is 1-0-0 this season against ranked teams. The Warriors defeated Southern N.H. 1-0 September 29 at Warrior Field. The Penmen were ranked No. 2 in the nation entering that game. Robbie Sabadoz (Ottawa, Ontario) netted the match's lone goal while goalkeeper Kevin Joyce (Mansfield, Mass.) stopped all 13 shots sent his way.
Merrimack is paced by first-team All-Conference honoree, Sabadoz with eight goals and five assists, good for 21 points. Franklin Pena (Revere, Mass.), who earned third team All-Conference accolades, is close behind with 20 points on eight tallies and four helpers. The Warriors have had 11 different players notch goals this season. Merrimack is outscoring opponents 34-26 on the year while owning a 261-210 advantage in shots.
Junior midfielder Evan Burokas (Auburn, Mass.) ranks fifth nationally in assists-per-game. Burokas is dishing out 0.80 helpers per contest. Burokas was tabbed to the All-Conference second team. Defenders Nicholas Lo Coco (Gloucester, Mass.) and Olof Lindhe (Stockholm, Sweden) were both named to the All-Conference third team.
Freshman netminder Mattias Drummond (Partille, Sweden) has seen action in the each of the past five games for Merrimack. Drummond has made three starts and owns a goals-against-average of 1.27.
Last year, Merrimack was eliminated from the conference playoffs in the quarterfinals, falling to Southern Connecticut 2-1. Victor Plaza (Jundiai, Brazil) found the back of the net for the Warriors in the match.
The Warriors own a 3-4-0 mark against the other seven squads vying for the Northeast-10 Conference Tournament title. Merrimack has defeated Stonehill, New Haven and Southern N.H.
In the other quarterfinal matches, second-seed Southern Connecticut welcomes Stonehill, the seventh-seeded team. After finishing the regular season in third, Bentley will host sixth-seed New Haven. The No. 4 vs. 5 matchup sends Southern N.H. to square off against Le Moyne in Syracuse, N.Y.