BROOKLINE, Mass. - For the first time in program history, a Newbury Nighthawks team is headed for the NCAA Tournament after clinching the automatic qualifier from the New England Collegiate Conference. The Nighthawks travel to upstate New York for their first-ever appearance in the National Tournament where they will face the No. 6 team in Division III, the State University of New York at Cortland Red Dragons.
Teams representing the NECC are 1-2 since 2015, including a victory in 2016 when Daniel Webster College defeated Worcester State University, 1-0, in First Round play, before being bounced in the Second Round by No. 2 Amherst.
Newbury enters the tournament at 11-4-4, including 5-2-3 in their last 10 matches. The offense is led by NECC Rookie of the Year Warren Exceus (Boston, Mass.), who led the team with seven goals, nine assists, and 23 points. Those totals also ranked fourth, first, and second, respectively, in the conference.
The Nighthawks mix their powerful offense with an experienced defensive group. Led by a pair of juniors, Andrew Kalombo (Worcester, Mass.) and Chris Tran (Nantucket, Mass.), the Nighthawks defense allowed just 18 goals on the season, with Tran only allowing five of the 18.
Kalombo was named NECC Player of the Year for his play on the Nighthawks back line while Tran earned the NECC Goalie of the Year, allowing a career-low 0.55 goals against in nine games.
The NECC Coach of the Year, Bill Maddock, has his Nighthawks back to an 11-win season, matching a program record for wins in a season. Maddock is the only coach in program history to have two seasons with at least 10 wins.
As a team, the Nighthawks led the NECC in goals (33), assists (27), points (93), goals against average (0.91), and shutouts (9). The nine clean sheets and cumulative goals-against average are both program records.
As for the Red Dragons, they are making their third straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Each of the last two seasons, SUNY Cortland has won their First Round game, but failed to advance past the Second Round.
The Red Dragons offense, who averages over two goals per game, is led by junior Jake Keller (Wappingers Falls, N.Y.). Keller scored 14 goals for the Red Dragons this season, leading the State University of New York Athletic Conference. Senior Migell Ormsby (Kingston, Jamaica) isn't far behind, scoring 10 goals for SUNY Cortland this season.
Junior Miguel Tunas (Carmel, N.Y.) is a key cog in the Red Dragon offense, leading the team and SUNYAC with 10 assists.
The likely starting goalie for SUNY Cortland is junior Sean Kelly (Coram, N.Y.). In 19 appearances, Kelly went 14-1-3, including a career-high 12 clean sheets. Additionally, Kelly finished with a goals against average of 0.53 and a save percentage of 0.836.
The Nighthawks and Red Dragons kick off the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 10 at 5:00 p.m. The winner faces either Williams College (Mass.) or Elizabethtown College (Penn.) in the Second Round on Sunday.