November 11, 2010

Western New England College awaits word on possible ECAC Bowl invitation

More news about: Western New England
Keith Emery 11-6-10 (4)
Keith Emery is all smiles after his team poured a bucket of water on him following the UMass Dartmouth game.
Keith Emery 11-6-10 (3)
Keith Emery and his Golden Bears had a season to remember with an 8-2 record.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass.
– With the best season in school history in the record books, the Western New England College football team is anxiously awaiting word for an invitation to its first post-season tournament.

The Golden Bears, who finished with a school-record 8-2 record, will find out Monday (Nov. 15) if they are going to an Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Bowl game. The ECAC sponsors six contests, including three in the North Region.

Many teams are finishing their seasons this weekend with the NCAA Division III Championship selections scheduled for Sunday (Nov. 14).

Western New England College just missed playing for the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Championship after posting a 6-1 record in Boyd Division play. The Golden Bears were division co-champions with Endicott who advanced to the title game (and a meeting with Bogan leader Maine Maritime) after beating WNEC in the regular season.

Still, it was a season that won't soon be forgotten by the Western New England College players and coaches, and amazingly, by many former players who have called and emailed with their congratulations.

The 2010 campaign started on a high note even before the opening kick-off.

Coach Keith Emery and his team participated in the Greater Springfield Rebuilding Together project as part of its commitment to community service. The Golden Bears helped renovate a home in the city and did other chores that brought everyone closer together.

Western New England College, however, opened its 30th varsity season on an ominous note by getting walloped at Norwich by the score of 35-7. Determined to improve, the Golden Bears returned to the basics.

"We just practiced and started getting better at what we do," said Emery.

WNEC defeated a good Massachusetts Maritime team 30-6 in its home opener on September 11. The Golden Bears remembered the victims of 9/11 before the game, including former wide receiver Jimmy Geyer (Class of 1981).

Western New England College then captured the President's Cup for the first time in four years with a 17-10 victory over Westfield State.

Starting division play, the Golden Bears continued their amazing run with victories over Nichols (28-10), Salve Regina (10-5), Curry (27-23), MIT (27-10), and Plymouth State (14-6) for a school record seven-game winning streak.

The road win over Curry was sweet, but the victory at Plymouth State was the first time the Golden Bears defeated the Panthers in 13 all-time meetings, and set the stage for a showdown with Endicott. Emery's squad had a chance to claim the division crown with a win, but fell just short as the Gulls held on a for eight-win decision (23-15) after WNEC drove inside the 10 in the final minute.

In the season-finale against UMass Dartmouth, Western New England College used a strong performance in the second half to come away with a 37-14 victory to cap a perfect 5-0 home slate.

"The UMass Dartmouth game was a great way to end the season. It was good to play well again on both sides of the ball and an exclamation point on the end of the year," Emery stated.

Numerous veteran and first-year players made significant contributions on both defense and offense.

Western New England College tied for second in the 16-team NEFC in scoring defense (14.2 avg.) and was second in rushing offense (219.0). The Golden Bears were fourth in total offense (332.1), tied for fifth in rushing defense (128.9), and sixth in total defense (262.2).

WNEC also finished tied for second in the league in red zone defense (60.0%), fourth in time of possession (31 minutes, 28 seconds), fifth in third-down conversions (35.6%), and sixth in red zone offense (72.7%).

Western New England College was a team with no superstars, just a solid group of guys who enjoyed playing football, supporting one another, and never giving up.

Thursday (Nov. 11), the NEFC releases its All-Division squads and the Golden Bears hope to be well represented and recognized for a job well done.
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