Noontime’s Way Too Early D-III Football Conference Predictions

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Frank Stola and the Williams College football team will be one of the favorites in the NESCAC this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Kris Dufour/Williams College Athletics)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Our WAY too early New England D-III football preseason coverage rolls on with some predictions on who we think will win their respective conference this season.

Yes, we know these are VERY early predictions and they will certainly change once we get closer to kick-off, but for now, enjoy some way too early thoughts (from your friends at Noontime Sports) on who we think will celebrate a conference championship in November.



Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC)

  • Predicted Winner(s): Endicott College or Western New England
  • Teams to Watch: Husson UniversityNichols College, and Salve Regina University
  • Quick Synopsis: Yes, we know the Gulls and Golden Bears will be the teams to watch this fall, but don’t overlook Husson, Nichols, and Salve Regina as these three teams that will certainly challenge Endicott and Western New England for the CCC crown. Western New England has won the conference the last three years while Endicott has come close the past two seasons to snatching the title from its rival.

Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC)

  • Predicted Winner: Dean College
  • Teams to Watch: Maritime (N.Y.) 
  • Quick Synopsis: With a 4-1 conference mark, the Bulldogs were able to win their first-ever ECFC title last fall, so expect that momentum to continue one year later. Maritime (N.Y.) will also be a team to watch this season, while the other ECFC teams should provide challenges to both the Bulldogs and Privateers.

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC)

  • Predicted Winner(s): Framingham State or UMass Dartmouth 
  • Teams to Watch: Bridgewater State and Western Connecticut 
  • Quick Synopsis: The Rams of Framingham State have enjoyed a great deal of success the past few years, but could this be the year of the Corsairs? With quarterback Stephen Gacioch leading the UMass Dartmouth offense this fall, expect the Corsairs to challenge the Rams for the top spot in the MASCAC.

New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC)

  • Predicted Winner(s): Wesleyan University or Williams College
  • Teams to Watch: Middlebury CollegeTrinity College, and Tufts University
  • Quick Synopsis: As of now it seems as if this conference could be a two-team or five-team race for the NESCAC crown. Williams will welcome back an impressive senior class that should help them overcome the challenges to secure their first outright title since 2008. Keep your eyes on Trinity and Tufts – these two teams could play spoiler – and, of course, don’t overlook the Cardinals of Wesleyan, who will return some impressive talent on both sides of the ball.

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC)

  • Predicted Winner: MIT
  • Teams to Watch: Coast Guard Academy, Merchant Marine Academy, and Springfield College  
  • Quick Synopsis: Coach Brian Bubna and the Engineers have won back-to-back NEWMAC championships so it is hard to pick against MIT, which will once again be one of a few teams to watch in this conference. The Bears of Coast Guard Academy could also be a team that takes that next step, but don’t overlook Merchant Marine and Springfield College. Also, let’s not count out WPI, which did graduate a big senior class, but will carry over some momentum from its 10 win season.

The Early D3 Football Outlook: Teams To Watch In 2020

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Western New England’s Steven Fedorchak will be one of many players to watch on the Golden Bears this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Chris Marion)

By NoontimeSports.com

Our early New England D-III football coverage has begun with our ‘Way Too Early‘ Top 20 Poll – what did you think? 

Now, it is time to dig a bit deeper and highlight a few teams we believe fans should watch (and keep their eyes on) once the season officially kicks-off in a few months.

Dean College: After winning their first-ever Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title last November, the Bulldogs enter the 2020 season with a great deal of momentum. Sure, their 2019 campaign concluded with a difficult loss to the Gulls of Endicott College in the New England Bowl, but with a slew of starters expected to return this fall, including quarterback Terrell Watts, wide receiver Errol Breaux, and defensive end Wadell Alceus, don’t expect these Bulldogs to take a step backward.

Endicott College: The Gulls – like most squads highlighted on this list – did graduate some key players from last year’s squad, as well as their 2018 campaign, too. But Endicott does return some important pieces on both sides of the ball, including tight end Riley Shanley, defensive back Dylan Gardner, quarterback Dylan Bonfilio, and linebackers Tim Russell and Kevin O’Brien. All five players, along with some newcomers and returners will make the Gulls a team to continue to watch in the Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC Football) conference.

Framingham State: After a slow start to its 2019 campaign, the Rams scored a must-needed win over Westfield State, which provided Framingham with all the momentum they needed to win their conference’s crown. This year, the Rams will look a bit different – they won’t have quarterback Adam Wojenski under center – but will have return some key pieces on both sides of the ball, including halfback Devaun Ford, who was named the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) Rookie of the Year. On defense, look for Joshua Onujiogu to lead a unit that limited opposing rushing attacks to less than 100 yards per game.

Middlebury College: After winning nine consecutive contests last fall, it is hard to pick against these Panthers, who will certainly be challenged from the get-go. Yes, the Panthers bid farewell to some key players from a year ago, but welcome back quarterback Will Jernigan for one more season. Jernigan will be tasked with leading an offense that averaged 30.6 points per game while registering 410.6 yards per contest.

UMass Dartmouth: Quarterback Stephen Gacioch was fun to watch last season – he recorded career-bests in passing yards per game (277.6) and touchdowns (20) while rushing for a career-high six scores. Gacioch should be the player to watch again with these Corsairs, who ended their 2019 campaign with seven wins.

Wesleyan University: Quarterback Ashton Scott enjoyed a successful 2019 season – he finished with 17 touchdowns while completing 147 of 240 passes for 1,939 yards. Scott will be one of a few players to watch on offense – keep your eyes on halfback Glenn Smith and wide receiver Matthew Simco – while Taj Gooden will be asked to lead a defense that limited opponents to 19.1 points per game.

Williams College: We believe this Ephs team has a chance to win the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) this fall. They will be challenged, of course, but with quarterback Bobby Maimaron guiding the offense to linebackers Jarrett Wesner and TJ Rothmann leading the defense, these Ephs should be well-prepared to combat whatever they will face once their season begins in September.

Western New England: Some believed the Golden Bears were a bit lower than anticipated on our ‘Way Too Early’ New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll last week. And you know, we agree – these Golden Bears should have been a bit higher on our poll. Wide receiver Steven Fedorchak and linebacker Erich Keutmann should be able to help the Blue and Gold defend their conference crown not just against Endicott, but also other league foes.

A few other teams worth noting – we will certainly have more on them – include MIT, Salve Regina, Trinity College, Tufts University, and Western Connecticut. 

The Way Too Early New England D3 Football Top 20 Poll (June 2, 2020)

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By NoontimeSports.com 

Sure, college football is not happening today or tomorrow, but a new season appears to be on the horizon.

So, like we did last year, it is time to unveil our ‘Way Too Early’ New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll – we will have a preseason poll once we get closer to the 2020 season.

Program Note: Our ‘Way Too Early’ New England D-III Football Top 20 was based on our final poll from the 2019 season, as well as statistics. 


The 2019 Way Too Early New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll

The Final 2019 New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll 


Noontime Sports Way Too Early New England D-III Football Top 20 Poll 

1. Williams College 7-2, 7-2 NESCAC

2019 Final Spot: No. 11

2. Endicott College

9-2, 6-1 CCC

2019 Final Spot: No. 3

3. UMass Dartmouth

7-3, 5-3 MASCAC

2019 Final Spot: No. 9

4. Wesleyan University

8-1, 8-1 NESCAC

2019 Final Spot: No. 8

5. Middlebury College

9-0, 9-0 NESCAC

2019 Final Spot: No. 4

6. Salve Regina University

4-6, 3-4 CCC

2019 Final Spot: No. 20

7. Trinity College 

5-4, 5-4 NESCAC 2019 Final Spot: No. 13
8. Western New England 9-2, 7-0 CCC 2019 Final Spot: No. 1
9. Framingham State  8-3, 8-0 MASCAC 2019 Final Spot: No. 5

10. MIT 

7-3, 6-1 NEWMAC

2019 Final Spot: No. 6

11. Springfield College

6-4, 5-2 NEWMAC

2019 Final Spot: No. 7

12. Western Connecticut

8-3, 6-2 MASCAC

2019 Final Spot: No. 10

13. Tufts University

4-5, 4-5 NESCAC

2019 Final Spot: NR

14. Nichols College 6-4, 4-3 CCC 2019 Final Spot: No. 14
15. WPI 10-1, 6-1 NEWMAC 2019 Final Spot: No. 2
16. Amherst College  4-5, 4-5 NESCAC 2019 Final Spot: No. 15
17. Bridgewater State 6-4, 6-2 MASCAC 2019 Final Spot: No. 12
18. Husson University 4-6, 4-3 CCC

2019 Final Spot: No. 17

19. Coast Guard Academy

5-5, 2-5 NEWMAC

2019 Final Spot: No. 18

20. Univ. of New Eng.

4-6, 2-5 CCC

2019 Final Spot: NR

On The Rise: Anna Maria College and Dean College

Noonan: Revisiting My First Lacrosse Championship Game

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Tufts University’s Beau Wood (No. 18) netted the game-winning goal for the Jumbos against Bowdoin College in the 2012 NESCAC Championship game. (PHOTO COURTESY: Matt Noonan)

By Matt Noonan 

The month of May, in my opinion, will always be associated with the sport of lacrosse.

It is a month that features a slew of college tournaments and championships to NCAA postseason runs that concludes on Memorial Day weekend.

But while the sport of lacrosse, as well as other games, remain sidelined for the moment, memories of games covered, including my first-ever New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament Final, is on my mind. And it is hard not to think back to that gorgeous day – May 6, 2012, to be exact – when Tufts University outlasted Bowdoin College, 9-8, in double-overtime

At the time, I didn’t know much about lacrosse. I thought it was hockey on grass – maybe basketball, too – but it was a sport I grew to love from watching a talented Tufts team (and program), which had won its first-ever national championship two years earlier against Salisbury University.

I got my first glimpse of these Jumbos in mid-April of 2012 when Tufts rolled past Amherst College, 15-5. It was an impressive win.

Mike Daly, who was the coach of the Jumbos, told me neither he or his coaching staff anticipated his team was going to beat Amherst by ten goals on this particular afternoon. Instead, Daly, who is currently the head coach of the Brown University men’s lacrosse team, told me that his team “just put together a pretty complete effort today.” And that effort would certainly be on display weeks later when I covered Tufts’ dramatic win over a Bowdoin, which would conclude its 2012 campaign in the second round of the NCAA D-III Tournament.

Bowdoin was a good team. They had scored some impressive conference wins in 2012, as well as some important non-league victories against Keene State and Springfield College. They beat Wesleyan University in the NESCAC quarterfinals before knocking off Trinity College in the semifinals shortly after Tufts topped Connecticut College.

Tufts had beaten Bowdoin prior to their championship meeting – the Jumbos topped the Polar Bears, 15-7, in Medford, Massachusetts, which made me think the young men who wore the powder blue, brown and white jerseys that day would duplicate that performance on the same field. But I was wrong.

Instead, I, along with fans and friends of each program, was treated to an amazing back and forth affair that saw Bowdoin erase a two-goal deficit during the final minutes of the fourth quarter to force not one, but two extra sessions.

Tufts had a chance to win the game in the first overtime but neither Nick Rhoads and Beau Wood were able to deposit their attempt past Bowdoin’s, Chris Williamson. Bowdoin would also have a chance to clinch the victory but watched Conor O’Toole‘s shot sail wide of the Tufts cage.

So, with the score still knotted at 8-8, we quickly advanced to a second overtime period. And like many, I wondered which team would score that game-winner? Would it be Bowdoin, since they seemed to have all the momentum, thanks to back-to-back fourth-quarter goals by Keegan Mehlhorn and Will Wise, or Tufts, which had not located the back of the net since the final seconds of the third quarter?

That question would be answered during the sixth and final period when Tufts scored on its third attempt of the session with 1:50 remaining. Beau Wood fired home the game-winner after receiving a pass from Geordie Shafer. And once the ball slipped past Bowdoin’s Chris Williamson, the Jumbos rushed the field to celebrate a hard-fought yet exhilarating win.

“We knew we had to just end (the game) it as soon (as we got the ball),” Wood remarked shortly after his team’s one-goal win.

Indeed, the Jumbos did end it, but not until they forced their second turnover of the second overtime.

Tufts would advance to the NCAA semifinals two weeks later but saw their run toward a national title conclude against SUNY Cortland. The Red Dragons, which beat the Jumbos by a score of 12-10, would end up losing in the finals to Salisbury, who had beaten Tufts in the national title game one year earlier.

Sure, it was disappointing to see a team you had covered fall short of winning the ultimate prize, but I knew eventually this team (and program) would celebrate a championship in the future. And that they did. Tufts would win a pair of titles in the coming years, including their second national championship against Salisbury in 2014. They would also make a third-straight appearance in the championship game in 2016 but lose by one goal to the Sea Gulls of Salisbury.

Tufts will return to the title game again soon. But for now, I consider myself lucky to have covered and chronicled their various campaigns these past few years through NoontimeSports.com. I will always be thankful for the time both Mike Daly and his players provided me after the three contests I covered in 2012 and will continue to look back on this time fondly. I was a young journalist (and blogger), but also someone that wanted to learn more about a sport that I had only played once in my life. And because of Tufts, I am now an avid lacrosse fan, as well as a high school and middle school official here in Massachusetts.

I miss watching and covering games, especially on gorgeous days like today, but I do know better days are ahead for all of us, and they will certainly include exciting and dramatic one-goal victories.

Noontime’s Senior Salute: Erica DeCandido (Tufts University)

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Erica DeCandido averaged 16.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game this past winter for the Tufts University women’s basketball team. (PHOTO COURTESY: Alonso Nichols / Tufts University)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeNation 

This past winter, Erica DeCandido was the player to watch on the Tufts University women’s basketball team.

The North Wales, Pennsylvania native averaged career-bests in points per game (16.7) and rebounds (8.7) in 29 contests while leading Tufts to a 28-1 overall record.

Recognized as the 2020 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Player of the Year, DeCandido scored 20 points or more seven times this past winter while netting a career-high 28 points in her team’s 78-60 win over Wesleyan University. Additionally, she pulled down 10 rebounds or more in 10 contests and recorded nine double-doubles.

DeCandido scored 1,397 points in 119 games with the Jumbos to go with 685 rebounds, 317 assists, 166 steals, and 67 blocks.

We recently spoke with Erica about her final season with the Jumbos, as well as where she is headed after graduation later this spring.


Despite the way the season concluded, what will you remember most about your senior year?

I will definitely miss the camaraderie. My teammates are my best friends, and college basketball gives you such a great opportunity to do something you love with all the people you love.

Despite all of the wins and that one loss (from this past season), I will remember how much fun we had from (competing on the road) to our bus trips, team meetings, and so much more.

Looking back on the 2019-20 season, what game (or games) will you remember most? Why these games?

I will remember our two road games against Amherst College and Bowdoin College. I think the Amherst game was one of the first games in my collegiate career where we went into overtime which was very intense. The Bowdoin game featured some amazing fans and neither team could miss (a shot). Both were such different games but against two great teams, and we won them both.

What have you enjoyed most about competing for the Tufts women’s basketball team (and program) these past four years?

I’ve certainly enjoyed the high level of competition, not only in the NESCAC but in our everyday practices, too. I was able to play in the D-III National Championship my freshman year, win a NESCAC championship while having an amazing time with my friends. As cheesy as that sounds, that’s why I love playing for this team. We are super close and were able to compete for championships. 

Once you officially graduate later this spring, do you plan to stay involved with the sport in some capacity? Any interest in coaching?

I definitely would love to stay involved with the sport. I do not think I will become a coach (at some point) but I would love to work for basketball non-profits, so I can teach this game I love so much. 

What interested you in pursuing a degree in cognitive brain science? What do you hope to do with your degree after graduation?

I find the brain and psychology very fascinating. We all have brains, but it’s so interesting to see how different things can impact one from the other. It’s fun to learn about what goes on behind people’s actions, thoughts, and decisions.

I currently have a job lined up in New York City, doing client services for a company called Guidepoint.