By Matt Noonan (@MattNoonan11)
Welcome to April, New England D3 Lax fans! We have officially made it to the mid-way point of the 2018 season – crazy, right?
With just a few weeks remaining before conference tournaments begin, let’s take a spin around the New England landscape and check-in on every conference.
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Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC): It should come as no surprise that Endicott College and Western New England remain the top two teams in the CCC. Both squads will meet on Saturday (Apr. 7th) in a pivotal regular season match-up. The winner will most likely be the top seed in the upcoming postseason tournament.
Regular Season Champion (Prediction): Western New England. The Golden Bears seem to be the team to beat in the CCC this spring and should take care of business on Saturday against the Gulls. Maybe they get tripped up down the stretch by Roger Williams or Salve Regina, but the Golden Bears are my pick to win the regular season crown and host the 2018 CCC Tournament.
Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC): This is an interesting conference to watch – there really isn’t a favorite. Lasell College captured the GNAC crown last season, but appears to have rebounded from a difficult start. The Lasers boast a 2-0 ledger in league play and can really push ahead for good with a win this weekend over Mount Ida College. The Mustangs are certainly in contention for the regular season crown, as well as Johnson & Wales, Norwich University and Rivier University.
Regular Season Champion (Prediction): Despite a slow start, I still like Lasell College, especially if they can find a way past Mount Ida this weekend.
Little East Conference (LEC): Keene State will remain the favorite in the LEC, but it will be interesting to watch a few teams over the next few weeks, including UMass Dartmouth, which is riding a three-game winning streak. The Corsairs will meet the Owls this weekend in New Hampshire.
Regular Season Champion (Prediction): Let’s go with … Keene State! The Owls will secure the top seed. Sure, they may get tripped up once (or twice?) down the stretch, but they will be the team to beat in the LEC postseason.
New England Collegiate Conference (NECC): Dean College appears to be the team to beat in the NECC. They currently boast a 5-3 overall ledger and will begin conference play this Saturday, April 7 when they host Mitchell College at 1 p.m.
All three NECC teams will qualify for the tournament later this month, but as of now, it appears the Bulldogs have the upper hand against Mitchell and Becker College.
Regular Season Champion (Prediction): The Dean Bulldogs should most likely be the team that hosts the championship game on Saturday, April 28.
New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): As expected, the NESCAC has been a fun conference to follow this season – a majority of their team’s have continued to appear in our weekly Top 10 poll.
My guess, as of now, is Amherst College will find a way to secure the top seed, but I wouldn’t rule out Tufts University or Wesleyan University. All three teams will meet over the next few weeks, which will help determine the regular season champion.
Keep an eye on Bowdoin College, Connecticut College and Williams College over the next few weeks, as well.
Regular Season Champion (Prediction): I think Amherst College is the team to beat in the NESCAC this season. They remain our top team in the latest Noontime Sports Top 10 Poll and will most likely be the squad that hosts the semifinals and championships next month.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NESCAC): Coast Guard Academy has been the team to watch – can they continue their March momentum this month against MIT and Springfield College? Their mid-week match against the Pride in two weeks will most likely determine the top seed in the NEWMAC.
Springfield has enjoyed another successful regular season campaign, as well. They boast a solid 6-3 ledger, which includes some non-conference wins over SUNY Cortland, Nazareth and Union College.
Regular Season Champion (Prediction): I think Coast Guard Academy will find a way to get past Springfield to secure the top seed in the NEWMAC.
North Atlantic Conference (NAC): Once again, New England College appears to be the favorite – I am not sure if Castleton University will catch the Pilgrims, but we shall see.
NEC has rebounded from an 0-4 start with seven-straight wins, including some non-league victories over University of New England, Mount Ida and Norwich University.
Regular Season Champion (Prediction): The New England College Pilgrims will finish its conference slate undefeated and secure the top spot in the NAC playoffs.