The Central Connecticut men's soccer team clinched at least a share of the Northeast Conference regular season title with a 2-0 shutout victory over St. Francis (NY). The Blue Devils scored a pair of goals in the first half and junior keeper Anthony Occhialini kept the Terriers off the board as Central secured their first trip to the NEC Tournament since 2007.
The Blue Devils finish the regular season with a 10-8 record and a 7-3 mark in conference play.
The Blue Devils notched their first goal of the match in the 23rd minute when junior Alpha Dioubate passed from the left corner back toward the net. Junior Eddy Bogle cut down the center of the field, took the pass and chipped the ball past the keeper to give Central the 1-0 lead.
A minute later the Blue Devils had their second score. This time it was junior Reece Wilson putting the ball in the net. Following a St. Francis foul, Wilson stepped up for a free kick and delivered a 35 yard strike into the upper left corner of net.
Wilson and Bogle are Central's top scorers this season with six and five goals respectively.
Occhialini led the Blue Devil defense throughout the match. In the second half he ended the St. Francis comeback threat with a pair of crucial saves. In total, he posted five saves in the match and recorded his sixth shutout of the season. The victory was Occhialini's 10th of the year.
With the victory the Blue Devils finish the conference season with 21 points, clinching at least a tie for first place. Monmouth and Sacred Heart can also finish the regular season with 21 points.
The NEC Tournament will be held November 11 and 13. The tournament is a four-team single elimination format and will be hosted by the highest seed.
Sacred Heart holds the tiebreakers over both Central and Monmouth, and would earn the top seed for the NEC Tournament if the three teams tie for first. The Blue Devils hold the tiebreaker with Monmouth and can be seeded either first or second depending on the outcome of Sacred Heart's games this weekend.
The Blue Devils can win the regular season title outright if Monmouth and Sacred Heart fail to win all of their remaining games.
The seven NEC victories tie the program record set in 1998, that year the Blue Devils also shared an NEC regular season title.
Check CCSUBlueDevils.com this weekend for up-to-date information on seeding for the NEC Tournament.