In just a few hours, we will learn the opening round matchups of the 2021 NCAA Division III Tournament with four New England teams scheduled to compete in the opening round.
One of the four teams — Framingham State — is making its third-straight trip to the national postseason while the other three, including Endicott College, are making their first appearance in a few seasons.
Let’s highlight the four local teams that will be competing in the national postseason, as well as how things played out in their previous appearances.
Anna Maria College (7-2, 5-1 ECFC): Coach Dan Mulrooney and his AMCATs made history this fall by winning their first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title on Saturday with a 31-7 victory over SUNY-Maritime. The win snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Privateers, dating back to Anna Maria’s first season as a varsity program, but this particular trip will be the team’s initial appearance in the national tournament.
Endicott College (8-2, 5-1 CCC): Saturday’s 37-3 victory over Nichols College provided the Gulls with their first conference crown since 2013 when they beat Salve Regina in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) championship game. Endicott secured a matchup with Rowan University but saw their second trip to the playoffs conclude in the opening round with a 24-0 setback. The Gulls’ initial trip to the national tournament came in 2010 — they lost to SUNY Cortland by a score of 49-35 after edging Maine Maritime Academy in the NEFC Championship one week earlier.
In addition to two trips to the NCAA Tournament, the Gulls have appeared in four bowl games, winning a pair of ECAC North Atlantic bowls against Mount Ida College and Norwich University, along with two appearances in the New England Bowl (beat Dean College in 2019, lost to the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 2018).
Framingham State (8-2, 8-0 MASCAC): The Rams are heading back to the postseason for the third consecutive season after winning eight Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) matchups this fall.
Framingham State is seeking its initial postseason win — the Black and Gold have competed in the national tournament five times in the last nine years. They made their first appearance in 2012 after beating Salve Regina in the New England Football Conference championship — Framingham State lost to SUNY Cortland by a score of 20-19.
In addition to competing in the NCAA Tournament, coach Tom Kelley‘s Rams have won two New England Bowls in 2016 and 2017 to go with a pair of ECAC Bowl games.
Springfield will represent the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) in the postseason for the second time in program history — they captured the conference crown in 2017 with a 10-0 overall record but lost their opening-round matchup to Husson University.
The Pride’s initial appearance in the national postseason came in 1998 when coach Mike DeLong‘s squad lost its opening-round contest to Buffalo State by a score of 38-35. They would return two years later, winning back-to-back contests against Montclair State (first round) and Brockport (second round) before losing to Widener University in the NCAA East Regional Final.
Springfield’s 2000 postseason run was the furthest any Pride team would advance in the national tournament — they did advance to the second round in 2006 but lost to St. John Fisher by a score of 27-21. One round earlier, Springfield rolled past Curry College, 42-14.
Welcome to the ninth week of the 2021 New England college football season — it should be another exciting week for a slew of small college teams that remain in the mix for their respective conference crown.
Like we did last week, it is time to highlight and share some thoughts on six conference races to watch in NCAA Division II and Division II.
Northeast-10 Conference (NE10)
The Leader(s): Bentley University (7-0, 5-0) and University of New Haven (6-1, 5-0)
In the Hunt: Assumption College (4-3, 4-1)
Matchups to watch this week:
Franklin Pierce University at Bentley (Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.)
Assumption at New Haven (Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.)
Synopsis: We’re one week away from what should be the de-facto conference championship game between Bentley and New Haven – the game will take place in Connecticut, not Massachusetts. But instead of looking ahead to the tenth week of the season, let’s worry about this week’s games.
Bentley returns from a bye week looking to continue its early (and yes, mid-season) momentum against a Ravens squad that has yet to win a game. As for Assumption, this is a must-win game against a Chargers squad that has not lost a game this month. In fact, the last time the Chargers dropped a game was last month.
Assumption enters this week’s contest with New Haven having won four of their last five contests. They lost to Stonehill College, a team New Haven beat last weekend, at the end of September.
As of now, we’re thinking Bentley and New Haven will win their respective week nine matchups, but don’t rule out a potential surprise on Saturday.
Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC)
The Leader: Salve Regina University (7-1, 3-1)
In the Hunt: Endicott College (6-2, 3-1), Husson University (5-2, 2-1), and Western New England (5-3, 3-1)
Matchups to watch this week:
Husson at Nichols College (Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.)
University of New England at Endicott (Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.)
Curry College at Salve Regina (Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.
Synopsis: With a come-from-behind win last week against Endicott, the Seahawks of Salve Regina head into the ninth week with a great deal of momentum. However, they need to score back-to-back wins against Curry and Husson to keep their national postseason hopes alive.
Despite losing to the Seahawks, the Gulls are still in a position to win the conference, thanks to recent wins against Husson and Western New England. Like Salve Regina, Endicott needs to win its final two outings – they should be the favorites this week and at the end of the season when they visit Nichols.
Western New England will be idle this weekend but faces both Maine teams during the final two weeks of the 2021 season.
Husson rebounded from a seven-point setback to Endicott last weekend with a commanding win over UNE. Look for their momentum to continue this week against the Bison.
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC)
The Leader: Anna Maria College (5-1, 3-0)
In the Hunt: Castleton University (4-3, 2-1), Gallaudet University (5-1, 3-1), and Alfred State (3-4, 2-1)
Matchups to watch this week:
Anna Maria at Castleton (Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.)
Alfred State at Keystone College (Oct. 30 at 2 p.m.)
Synopsis: The AMCATs of Anna Maria head into the final three weeks of the 2021 season with a great deal of momentum, but they will certainly be tested, beginning this weekend when they visit the Spartans of Castleton.
Saturday’s game is a must-win for the Spartans, who have won their last two outings against Dean College (21-13) and Keystone (41-0). The win over the Giants marked the second time the Spartans have shut out an opponent this fall – they rolled past Fitchburg State, 35-0, in week two.
Don’t be surprised if the Anna Maria-Castleton game comes down to the final possession – in some ways, this is somewhat a playoff game for both teams.
Gallaudet is idle this weekend after falling to Alfred State last weekend – the Pioneers kicked a field goal with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter to seal a come-from-behind victory. The Pioneers will enter their week nine clash with the Giants as a favorite.
Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)
The Leader: Bridgewater State (5-2, 5-0 MASCAC) and Framingham State (5-2, 5-0)
Matchups to watch this week:
UMass Dartmouth at Bridgewater State (Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.)
Framingham State at Massachusetts Maritime Academy (Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.)
Synopsis: Next week’s Bridgewater State-Framingham State contest could serve as a de-facto conference championship game, but before we look ahead to next week, let’s worry about the two matchups above.
UMass Dartmouth enters their week nine clash with the Bears riding a three-game winning streak. That momentum should help them keep pace with a Bridgewater State squad that has produced six touchdowns or more in their last three outings. Bridgewater State has won its last three meetings with UMass Dartmouth.
Framingham State enters its final three contests with a great deal of momentum, as well – they were idle this past weekend but should be able to continue their recent success against a Massachusetts Maritime Academy squad that snapped a six-game losing streak to Western Connecticut last weekend.
New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)
The Leader: Trinity College (6-0, 6-0), Wesleyan University (6-0, 6-0), and Williams College (6-0, 6-0)
In the Hunt: Amherst College (4-2, 4-2)
Matchups to watch this week:
Trinity at Williams (Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.)
Amherst at Wesleyan (Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.
Synopsis: One of these teams – may be two – will end the ninth week with their first setback of the season. But which one will it be?
Trinity is on a roll, outscoring opponents, 222-68, while Williams has produced 216 points through six contests. Should we expect a shootout on Saturday in Williamstown between the Bantams and Ephs?
Despite losing a pair of games to Bowdoin College and Colby College, Amherst College is still very much alive to possibly share the league crown with one of the three undefeated NESCAC squads. We expect the Mammoths will beat one of these teams, maybe two – could they beat all three of them? It is certainly possible.
All four teams will play each other over the next three weeks, including this weekend, so get ready for a fun ending to the 2021 NESCAC season.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)
The Leader: United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) (7-0, 4-0)
In the Hunt: Catholic University (5-3, 3-1) and Springfield College (4-3, 3-0)
Matchups to watch this week:
Merchant Marine at Springfield (Oct. 30 at 1 p.m.)
Synopsis: The Mariners can technically clinch the conference crown this weekend with a win against the Pride. But a Springfield victory could result in some serious scoreboard watching over the next two weeks.
Merchant Marine has been a great story this fall, winning seven consecutive contests – you could say eight, dating back to their lone outing last fall with Coast Guard Academy – and appear destined to win the NEWMAC for the first time in program history. But as of recently, the Mariners have struggled against the Pride, losing two of their last three outings, but their most recent win did occur in Springfield in 2018.
After starting 1-3, the Pride have ripped off three straight wins and have outscored their last three foes by a combined score of 162-24. Springfield – from what we’re hearing – seems ready for this matchup. And so are we.
Welcome to the ninth week of the 2021 New England NCAA Division III college football season — are you ready for another for a big week of football?
This week, along with the next two, will help us determine what teams will compete in either the national postseason or the New England Bowl(s).
So, without further ado, let’s get excited for another week of football with our latest Top 20 poll.
1. Salve Regina University (7-1, 3-1 CCC | LW: No. 5): The Seahawks return to the top of our poll following a come-from-behind victory against Endicott College.
2. Trinity College (6-0, 6-0 NESCAC | LW: No. 2): A big matchup awaits the Bantams this week against the Ephs of Williams College.
3. Endicott College (6-2, 3-1 CCC | LW: No. 1): The Gulls drop two spots after seeing their 14-6 lead disappear in the fourth quarter last Saturday to Salve Regina.
4. Western New England (5-3, 3-1 CCC | LW: No. 4): Make it back-to-back wins for the Golden Bears who are still in the mix for their conference crown.
5. Williams College (6-0, 6-0 NESCAC | LW: No. 3): Another week, another victory for the Ephs.
6. Framingham State (5-2, 5-0 MASCAC | LW: No. 6): Are you ready for the Kelley Cup this Saturday?
7. Bridgewater State (5-2, 5-0 MASCAC | LW: No. 7): The Bears rolled past Westfield State this past weekend but face a UMass Dartmouth squad that has won three straight since falling to Western Connecticut earlier this month.
8. Wesleyan University (6-0, 6-0 NESCAC | LW: No. 8): The Cardinals shut out Middlebury College at home and will look to continue their midseason momentum against Amherst College this weekend.
9. UMass Dartmouth (6-2, 4-2 MASCAC | LW: No. 9): Don’t be surprised if these Corsairs hand the Bears of Bridgewater State their initial conference setback of the season on Saturday.
10. Husson University (5-2, 2-1 CCC | LW: No. 10): The Eagles bounced back from a week seven setback to Endicott with a big win against the University of New England.
11. Springfield College (4-3, 3-0 NEWMAC | LW: No. 11): Make it three-straight wins for the Pride, who now face their toughest test of the season: the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USSMA).
12. Anna Maria College (5-1, 3-0 ECFC | LW: No. 12): Did you know the AMCATs are in first place in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC)?
13. Plymouth State (3-4, 3-2 MASCAC | LW: No. 13): Make it three-straight wins for the Panthers, who will look to even their record with a win on Saturday against Westfield State.
14. MIT (3-3, 1-2 NEWMAC | LW: No. 17): A dramatic second-half comeback helped the Engineers outlast Norwich University.
15. Amherst College (4-2, 4-2 NESCAC | LW: No. 20): The Mammoths posted their first shutout of the season last Saturday against Hamilton College. Will this win translate to a big victory this weekend against Wesleyan?
16. Massachusetts Maritime Academy (4-3, 3-2 MASCAC | LW: Not Ranked): The Buccaneers returned to the poll following an impressive 22-20 win over Western Connecticut.
17. University of New England (3-4, 1-2 CCC | LW: No. 15): A big challenge awaits the Nor’easter this weekend at Endicott.
18. Western Connecticut (3-5, 2-4 MASCAC | LW: No. 14): The Colonials will attempt to snap a three-game losing streak on Saturday at Worcester State.
19. Colby College (2-4, 2-4 NESCAC | LW: No. 19): The Mules will look to bounce back from their week eight setback to Trinity with a CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) victory against Bates College.
20. Bates College (1-5, 1-5 NESCAC | LW: Not Ranked): These Bobcats have provided some challenges to Wesleyan and Williams this fall, so don’t be surprised if they finish their 2021 slate with two – maybe three? – more victories.
The sixth week of the New England NCAA Division III football season is quickly approaching – are you ready for some football?
We are, of course – in fact, we’re ready for football every day!
Anywho, allow us to dish out this week’s 10 Games to Watch, and let’s see – well, more keep our fingers crossed for a better outcome after finishing 5-5 last week.
Entering the sixth week of the 2021 season, we have picked 35 of 50 games correctly, which is not bad, eh?
FEATURED GAME:Western New England (3-2, 1-0 CCC) at Endicott College (4-1, 1-0 CCC) Saturday, October 9 at 12 p.m.: Both teams scored conference wins last week, but the Golden Bears may have picked up a great deal of momentum heading into Saturday’s clash with the Gulls after scoring 41 points against Salve Regina. PREDICTION: WNE 35, Endicott 27
FEATURED GAME: University of New England (3-1, 1-0 CCC) at Salve Regina (4-1, 0-1 CCC) Saturday, October 9 at 1 p.m.: The Nor’easters have been a great story thus far – can they keep their current momentum going against a Seahawks squad that is looking to bounce back from a lopsided defeat to Western New England? PREDICTION: Salve Regina 22, UNE 18
FEATURED GAME: Massachusetts Maritime Academy (3-1, 2-0 MASCAC) at UMass Dartmouth (3-2, 1-2 MASCAC) Saturday, October 9 at 2:30 p.m.: The Buccaneers are in the mix for the league crown but need this win to keep pace with Bridgewater State and Framingham State. PREDICTION: UMass Dartmouth 28, Mass. Maritime 20
Bridgewater State (3-2, 3-0 MASCAC) at Worcester State (1-3, 1-1 MASCAC) Saturday, October 9 at 12 p.m.: Believe it or not, the Lancers are in the hunt for the conference crown but face a challenging test against a Bears squad that has won three straight. PREDICTION: Bridgewater State 30, Worcester State 20
Castleton University (2-3, 0-1 ECFC) at Dean College (1-4, 0-1 ECFC) Saturday, October 9 at 12 p.m.: The Spartans almost beat SUNY-Maritime last week, so don’t be surprised if the Green and White sneak out of Franklin with a hard-fought win over the Bulldogs. PREDICTION: Castleton 21, Dean 14
Trinity College (3-0, 3-0 NESCAC) at Hamilton College (2-1, 2-1 NESCAC) Saturday, October 9 at 1 p.m.: The Bantams looked pretty well last week against Middlebury College – it was a total team effort against the Panthers, which will be seen again this week in New York against the Continentals. PREDICTION: Trinity 28, Hamilton 14
Bates College (0-3, 0-3 NESCAC) at Tufts University (0-3, 0-3 NESCAC) Saturday, October 9 at 1 p.m.: Both teams are desperate for their initial win of 2021 – something tells us that Brendan Costa and the Bobcats will pull out a dramatic win in Somerville for the team’s first win against the Jumbos on the road since 2012. PREDICTION: Bates 28, Tufts 27
Amherst College (2-1, 2-1 NESCAC) at Middlebury College (1-2, 1-2 NESCAC) Saturday, October 9 at 2 p.m.: was the player to watch last week against Tufts University – the Mammoths signal-caller rushed for three touchdowns and could provide some challenges for the Panthers’ defense. PREDICTION: Amherst 24, Middlebury 16
Plymouth State (0-4, 0-2 MASCAC) at Western Connecticut (3-2, 2-1) Saturday, October 9 at 3 p.m.: The Colonials are back in the mix for the conference crown following an important win last weekend against UMass Dartmouth. This week, they face a Panthers squad that was shut out against Framingham State but did attempt a late rally to beat Bridgewater State last month. PREDICTION: West Conn. 25, Plymouth State 13
Coast Guard Academy (2-3, 0-1 NEWMAC) at Springfield College (1-3, 0-0 NEWMAC) Saturday, October 9 at 3:30 p.m.: For the first time this fall, the Pride will compete at home – their first four games occurred on the road. Look for Springfield to score an important conference win to provide them with some momentum heading into their next few league matchups. PREDICTION: Springfield 25, Coast Guard 21
Five weeks of New England NCAA Division III football are officially in the books.
But before we truly turn the page to the sixth week of the 2021 season, which technically began yesterday — that would be Sunday, October 3, 2021, to be exact — we need to share our Week Six Poll, which featured a lot of movement, along with some new teams.
As usual, make sure to circle back both later today and throughout the week for more New England football coverage, but in the meantime … let’s share this week’s poll!
Noontime’s New England D-III Top 20 Poll | Week Six (Monday, October 4, 2021)
1. Western New England (3-2, 1-0 CCC | LW: No. 3): The Golden Bears proved they’re once again the team to beat in the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC) league.
2. Trinity College (3-0, 3-0 NESCAC | LW: No. 4): We watched ALL of Saturday’s game against Middlebury College and came away very impressed by the Bantams.
3. Williams College (3-0, 3-0 NESCAC | LW: No. 2): Sure, the Ephs dropped one spot, despite winning their third straight on Saturday, but they remain one of the top teams in both their conference and region.
4. Wesleyan University (3-0, 3-0 NESCAC | LW: No. 6): The Cardinals move up after picking up their third-straight win – look for the early-season momentum to continue over the next few weeks.
5. Endicott College (4-1, 1-0 CCC | LW No. 7): The Gulls defended the nest this past weekend by picking up their fourth win against Curry College. This week, Endicott faces the top team in the region.
6. Salve Regina University (4-1, 0-1 CCC | LW: No. 1): The Seahawks dropped five spots after falling to Western New England, which rolled up 397 yards of total offense, including 232 passing yards. This week, Salve Regina will look to bounce back against the University of New England.
7. Framingham State (3-2, 3-0 MASCAC | LW: No. 10): The Rams have turned things around quite well thus far after dropping a pair of non-league contests.
8. Bridgewater State (3-2, 3-0 MASCAC | LW: No. 11): Like the Rams, conference play has gone quite well for these Bears, who topped Fitchburg State this past weekend by a score of 42-0.
9. Western Connecticut (3-2, 2-1 MASCAC | LW: No. 13): One week after dropping their second conference clash to Bridgewater State, the Colonials bounced back with an important win against UMass Dartmouth.
10. Husson University (3-1, 0-0 CCC | LW: No. 10): The Eagles were idle this past weekend but jump into conference play this week against Curry College.
11. MIT (2-2, 0-1 NEWMAC | LW: No. 8): The Engineers concluded their initial conference game with 319 total yards compared to Catholic University, which produced 23 points off 270 yards. MIT is idle this upcoming weekend but faces a real tough test next week against the United States Merchant Marine Academy.
12. University of New England (3-1, 1-0 CCC | LW: No. 15): The Nor’easters moved up three spots after scoring their program’s first-ever win against Nichols College last weekend. UNE has not dropped a game since week one and could provide some challenges for Salve Regina this week.
13. Curry College (2-2, 0-1 CCC | LW: No. 17): Despite losing their conference opener to Endicott, the Colonels recorded a season-high 464 yards of total offense, including 189 yards rushing, which was also a season-best. The Purple and White will be a team to watch this week at Husson.
14. UMass Dartmouth (3-2, 1-2 MASCAC | LW: No. 12): The Corsairs have dropped two of their last three contests and will need some help to remain in the mix for the conference crown. This week, they face a Massachusetts Maritime Academy squad that has won three of their last four contests.
15. Norwich University (2-3, 1-0 NEWMAC | LW: Not Ranked): This might seem high for a squad that was not ranked one week ago, but the Cadets proved they deserve some attention after registering 492 yards of total offense in their first New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) clash on Saturday against Coast Guard Academy.
16. Anna Maria College (3-1, 1-0 ECFC | LW: No. 20): The AMCATs made history this past weekend by establishing a new single-season mark for wins (currently three), which should increase over the next few weeks.
17. Coast Guard Academy (2-3, 0-1 NEWMAC | LW: 14): The Bears dropped their initial conference clash to Norwich, which rallied to beat them in the “Little Army-Navy Game.” Norwich’s defense did not make it easy on the Coast Guard offense as the unit finished the game with three tackles for a loss of 10 yards, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and five pass break-ups.
18. Springfield College (1-3, 0-0 NEWMAC | LW: No. 18): The Pride remains in the same spot they were one week ago. This week, Springfield will play its first conference game at home against Coast Guard.
19. Amherst College (2-1, 2-1 NESCAC | LW: Not Ranked): The Mammoths bounced back from a three-point setback to Colby College with a 24-14 win over Tufts University.
20. Middlebury College (1-2, 1-2 NESCAC | LW: No. 5): The Panthers’ offense struggled mightily against a Trinity College defense that pitched a shutout in Hartford. This week’s game against Amherst is a must-win for the Navy Blue and White.
On the rise: Colby College and Massachusetts Maritime Academy