HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College men's soccer team has made the Centennial Conference Tournament during each of the last nine seasons. For the seventh straight season, the Fords' postseason journey will begin on Walton Field as the fourth-seeded Fords host fifth-seeded Gettysburg this Wednesday at 2 p.m.
An automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament will be on the line for the five remaining teams competing for the conference title. The Fords have won three of the last four conference championships, doing so on their home field each time (2015, 2016, and 2018). Haverford won its first Centennial Conference Championship in 2012. The Fords and Bullets will be joined in the tournament by top-seeded Franklin & Marshall, second-seeded Johns Hopkins, and third-seeded Dickinson. Franklin & Marshall will serve as the host site for Saturday's semifinals (12 p.m. and 3 p.m.) and Sunday's championship match (1 p.m.)
Haverford and Gettysburg played to a 2-2 draw during the regular season on the battlefield. After a scoreless opening half, the Bullets struck twice and led 2-0 with just under 13 minutes to play. However, the Fords needed just 14 seconds to answer that second goal and knotted the contest with 2:14 to play in regulation. Meinhardt Rentrup and Paul-Andre Coulibaly scored the goals for Haverford in that contest while Dylan Ioffreda got the start in goal and made five saves.
The Fords and Bullets have never met in Centennial Conference Tournament action. The only postseason matchup between these two sides happened in the 1984 MAC South Division Championship, which resulted in a 2-1 victory for the Fords. Jason Michaelides '85 and Bill Coleman '86 scored for the Fords in that winning effort. Haverford has won each of the last three meetings with the Bullets on Walton Field, all of which were regular season contests.
Wednesday's match will feature the top two scoring threats in the Centennial Conference as 2018 Centennial Conference Player of the Year Nick Jannelli scored 11 goals and assisted on eight more during the regular season for a conference-leading 30 points. 2018 CC Rookie of the Year Oladayo Thomas led the conference with 13 goals. Coulibaly has proven another reliable threat for the Fords and has scored each of his five goals during the team's last 10 matches. Nine players in total have recorded a goal for the Fords this season.
Haverford's first-team All-Centennial Conference goalkeeper Michael Iacono has seen the bulk of the work late in the regular season and enters the postseason allowing under a goal per match. He recorded back-to-back solo shutouts of Scranton and Drew in his return to the starting XI and has also been a part of shutouts against Cabrini, Hampden-Sydney, and Wilkes throughout this season. Senior Thomas Keane has played every single minute in goal for Gettysburg this season. He has helped his side to four shutouts and is allowing 1.38 goals per match.
In addition to the aforementioned tie with the Bullets against postseason teams, Haverford defeated Johns Hopkins by a 1-0 score early in Centennial Conference play for the team's highest-ranked road win in program history as the Blue Jays were No. 3 in the nation at the time. The Fords were edged by the Diplomats and Red Devils by identical 2-1 scores during regular season play.
Haverford holds a Centennial Conference-best .750 winning percentage in CC Tournament action. The Fords are 2-1 all-time in first round matchups and have advanced to the championship match twice when starting in the 4/5 matchup. Gettysburg has made the Centennial Conference in three straight seasons and 10 times overall. The Bullets are 3-2 in opening round matches, with each of those advancements coming via penalty kicks.
The winner of Wednesday's match will advance to face top-seeded Franklin & Marshall this Saturday at 12 p.m. in Lancaster. Johns Hopkins and Dickinson will play the second semifinal at 3 p.m., with the championship match slated for 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
The winner of this weekend's Centennial Conference Tournament will earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. However, the Centennial Conference was very well-represented in last week's NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Rankings with six of the top seven teams. Those rankings lead to the selection of at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament. The Division III Men's Soccer selection show will be broadcast live on Monday, November 11 at 1:30 p.m.