NEW ROCHELLE, NY – The Iona College men's soccer team and Canisius meet on Sunday afternoon in Buffalo, NY for the opening round of the 2017 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Championship. After missing the postseason last year, the Gaels return to the championship stage for the sixth time in the past seven years.
The top six teams in the MAAC standings earn an automatic bid into the postseason. Top-seeded Fairfield, the MAAC Regular Season Champions, and second-seeded Rider both earn a bye into the semifinals.
Iona surpassed expectations this season by making the postseason after being selected eighth in this season's preseason coaches' poll. The key to the Gaels success has been a stout defense that both prevents goals and scores on its own. Opponents have allowed the tied for the fourth fewest goals this season, maintaining a 1.25 goals against average. Sophomore Juan Alcantara and junior Kellar Sirstins have combined for seven shutouts, tied for second most in the conference.
Starting center backs senior Joshua Calderon and junior Humbert Ferrer lead Iona in scoring this season. Calderon has a team-leading four goals in addition for a team-high nine points. Ferrer has three goals, all of which have come in MAAC play. Junior forward Killian Colombie has two strikes in his four games coming off the bench. Freshman Josh Plimpton has two goals on just four shots on goal this season.
The Gaels trip to Buffalo is their second in as many weeks. In the regular-season finale for the Maroon & Gold, Iona and Canisius fought to a 0-0 draw. The Golden Griffs had 15 shots, seven of which came from senior forward Melvin Blair. The Gaels had 13 attempts on goal, highlighted by three shots from senior captain Luis Mendoza and Colombie.
Second year head coach James Hamilton and his staff are looking to capture the program's first ever MAAC Championship. The Gaels have finished runner-up twice, last coming in 2010.
The other first round game is fourth seeded Manhattan hosting fifth seeded Quinnipiac. Both first round games take place on Sunday afternoon. Kickoff between the Gaels is scheduled for 1 PM, and the game is being streamed on ESPN3.