Genesee Community College's men's soccer team plays its biggest game in program history Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. at host Herkimer County Community College against the reigning National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association Men's Soccer D-III champion Richland College.
Not only do the Thunderducks enter the title game attempting to put together back-to-back titles, but they've also taken one of the top three spots the last four years with a national runner accolade in 2014, and a pair of third-place finishes in 2013 and 2015.
On paper, Genesee appears to have an edge having averaged more goals-per-game (5.8-3.8), allowed fewer goals-per-game (.73-.88), and average more shots-on-net-per-game (13-7) with Richland playing five less games than Genesee over the course of this season.
What combined stats don't reveal is that Richland has never allowed more than a pair of goals in any game and because of that the T-Ducks require less offensive production to win games.
The key to the game may lie in just a single player – No. 4 James Sasay, who accounts for 40 percent of Richland's goals with 26 on the season. The freshman striker scored the T-Duck's overtime winner in their quarterfinal 2-1 victory over Ocean City and also had a pair of goals – including another game winner – in Richland's semifinal 3-1 win over host Herkimer. Only teammate Joshua Peloquins has a double-digit goal total with 10 – as no other team member has more than five goals.
Richland's (14-2-1) two losses were against Mt. San Antonio-California, 1-0 in double overtime (Sept. 29) and 2-1 vs. San Jacinto-South, Oct. 9. In the three games Richland didn't win this year (two losses and one tie), T-Ducks top-scorer Sasay was held scoreless.
Genesee (19-2-1) enters the game as the highest scoring team in the country at D-III with 128 goals and defensively with the most shutouts at 12.
If keying on individual players defensively is a strategy for either team, certainly Genesee would consider limiting Sasay's opportunities, but the T-Ducks might have a tougher time defending Genesee's top offensive players because there are so many.
The Cougars have seven players with nine goals or more led by Hijiri Sano and Charlie Livesey, who have 16 apiece, followed by Glenn Holmes (13), Billy Murphy (12), Ryan Price (12), Sam Hall (10) and Philip Melo (nine).
Links for all information pertaining to the NJCAA D-III Tournament can be found below, including a link to view the game live at: http://www.njcaatv.com/landing/index
NJCAA D-III Men's Soccer National Championship Webpage: http://www.njcaa.org/sports/msoc/2017-18/div3/national_championship/index
NJCAA D-III Men's Soccer Bracket: http://static.psbin.com/a/3/vthqei2jabdr7p/2017_DIII_MSOC_Champ_-_1st_round.pdf
NJCAA D-III Men's Soccer Results: http://www.njcaa.org/sports/msoc/2017-18/div3/national_championship/National_Championship_Results
NJCAA D-III Men's Soccer Televised Games (NJCAA TV): http://www.njcaatv.com/landing/index
NJCAA D-III Men's Soccer's Host's Website (Herkimer): http://www.herkimergenerals.com/