The St. Joseph’s College men’s soccer team will take an undefeated record into the NCAA Division III tournament for the second consecutive year, heading to western Massachusetts for a first-round game Saturday against Middlebury on the campus of Amherst University.

The Monks are one of nine teams from Maine headed to Division III tournaments – including two others from St. Joseph’s. The Monks are also sending their women’s soccer team and field hockey team to the NCAAs.

St. Joseph’s men’s soccer (20-0) is ranked No. 9 in the United Soccer Coaches Division III poll. Middlebury (10-3-3) is not ranked, but finished third in the New England Small College Athletic Conference, which is sending five teams to the NCAAs. The game time has yet to be announced.

“I know they’re really talented and have good depth,” said St. Joseph Coach Adrian Dubois.

The winner of the St. Joseph-Middlebury game will play in the second round against the winner of the game between NESCAC power Amherst (12-4-1) and Bridgewater State (11-7-1).

In women’s soccer, St. Joseph (16-3) will play at Swarthmore (15-2-2) in southeastern Pennsylvania at 1 p.m. Saturday; the University of New England (10-7-2) travels to defending national champion Williams (15-1-2), for an 11 a.m. Saturday game; and UMaine-Farmington (8-12) is going to Middlebury (15-1-2), also for an 11 a.m. Saturday game.

In field hockey, St. Joseph’s (19-1) will play at Endicott (17-4) at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

Two Maine teams are in the volleyball tournament. Bowdoin (17-1) is the top seed in its regional at Babson College, playing Worcester State (23-10) Friday in the first round (time TBA). Maine Maritime Academy (22-6) takes on Springfield (23-7) at 3 p.m. Friday at in Providence, Rhode Island.

In addition to St. Joseph’s, two other Maine teams are in the men’s soccer tournament – Colby (8-6-4), the upset NESCAC winner as the No. 8 seed and Thomas College (14-4). Thomas will play at NESCAC member Connecticut College (12-2-2). Colby, making its first NCAA appearance since 1963, is at Montclair State (17-1-2), at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Last year, the St. Joseph’s men’s soccer team headed into the NCAAs with an 18-0-1 record – and without allowing a goal. The Monks finally gave one up in a 2-1 win over Mitchell in the first round before being eliminated by defending champion Tufts in a 0-0 game decided by penalty kicks.

Last season, the Monks had a goal differential of 66-1. This fall, their goal differential is 77-1.

“We have a lot of experience in our backline,” said junior defender Jackson Taylor of Gorham. “All 11 players are really committed to defending, and it doesn’t hurt to have a goalie like Blake (Mullen).”

Once again this year, the NESCAC is in St. Joseph’s way. But Dubois is confident.

“We’re just more experienced (than last year), and experience plays a major role in soccer,” he said. “We have more depth. We’ve got different tools, a little more rounded.”

Among the other top players are Taylor’s Gorham High teammate, Cody Elliott, a midfielder who was MVP of the GNAC tournament, and midfielder Mitchell Duncan of Sanford.

For the St. Joseph women, senior Haley DaGraca of Saco was the MVP of their GNAC tournament. DaGraca scored the only goal in the Monks’ 1-0 win over top-seeded Lasell in the conference championship.

“After last year (a semifinal loss to Lasell), we put the work in to win it,” DaGraca said.

Coach Jenelle Harris said the Monks’ success was a combination of several factors, such as senior leadership and a stellar freshmen class, including starting goalie Adia Grogan of Kennebunk.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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