CUA meets Mariners with league championship on the line

CUA meets Mariners with league championship on the line

WASHINGTON – CUA will look to claim its second straight Landmark Conference championship on Saturday when the Cardinals head to Kings Point, N.Y. to take on the Merchant Marine Academy Mariners in the 2010 conference championship game.  This marks the third consecutive season in which CUA will play for a league title.

No. 4 CUA and No. 3 USMMA both earned upset wins in the semifinal round of the tournament as the Cardinals took down top-seeded Susquehanna 1-0 on the road, while the Mariners downed No. 2 Drew 2-1 in New Jersey.  This marks the second time in three years in which CUA has advanced to the title match as the No. 4 seed.

Mike DiMarco scored the game-winner for CUA in the semifinals as he headed in an Ian Smith corner kick in the 61st minute.  From there the Cardinals defense took over, holding the Crusaders to only four shots in the final 30 minutes of play.

With that win on Wednesday CUA extended its unbeaten streak to ten matches.  The Cardinals have not lost since late-September, and during this unbeaten run, they have posted six shutouts, including three straight.

Smith is CUA's leading scorer this season with nine goals and 19 points, while Mike Brennan and Kevin Duffy have both scored five goals.  DiMarco leads the team in assists with four, and Smith and Duffy have scored three game-winning goals apiece.

CUA ranks third in the Landmark Conference in goals against average, allowing only 0.86 goals per game, and the Cardinals 17 total goals against also ranks third.

Merchant Marine Academy comes into this weekend having won two straight and three of its last four.  The Mariners have been especially tough at home this season with a 6-0-1 record. 

Among conference teams Merchant Marine Academy is tied with CUA for second in total points with 72 and its 25 goals place third, two behind CUA.

Defensively the Mariners have the stingiest unit in the conference with a goals against average of only 0.64, having allowed just 11 goals all season.  Merchant Marine Academy has shut out nine opponents on the year, including four at home.

CUA and Merchant Marine Academy played earlier this season on October 2 in Washington and the teams battled to a 0-0 draw in double overtime.  The Cardinals and Mariners have met once before in the Landmark Conference Tournament, which took place just last year when CUA emerged with a 3-2 semifinal win.  

Saturday's match will begin at 1:00.  Merchant Marine Academy will have live coverage of the contest on its website.