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Thrilling weekend for Northeastern athletics

A pair of dramatic victories highlighted a thrilling weekend for Northeastern athletics. The men’s basketball team defeated Boston University in its season opener on Friday night at Matthews Arena with a dramatic last-second shot and the men’s soccer team captured its first-ever Colonial Athletic Association conference title by beating Hofstra 1-0 in double overtime at Vidas Field in Philadelphia. With the win, the soccer team secured an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Trailing by two points in the final seconds, sophomore Demetrius Pollard drained a three pointer with just over one second remaining to down crosstown rival BU 65-64, sending the raucous home crowd of 3,242 into a frenzy.

Northeastern has now topped the Terriers in three straight season openers.

Three Huskies scored in double figures. Northeastern senior Joel Smith led all scorers on Friday night with 20 points; sophomore Reggie Spencer scored a career-high 18 points to go along with seven rebounds; and Quincy Ford chipped in 11 points and snared a game-high nine rebounds.

The Huskies return to action on Tuesday evening in a road game against the Princeton Tigers.

The men’s soccer team, meanwhile, extended its 2012 campaign in dramatic fashion on Sunday in the CAA Championship when senior forward Don Anding—the CAA Player of the Year—netted the decisive goal with 4:38 left in double overtime. On the play, junior Dante Marini touched the ball over to Anding, who then fired a 20-yard left-footed shot that hooked into the right side of the net. It was Anding’s league-leading 14th goal of the season. He was honored as the Most Outstanding Performer of the championship and was joined by Conner Alexander, Oliver Blum and Jonathan Eckford in being named to the CAA All-Tournament Team.

Men’s soccer is headed back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002. Photo courtesy of Colonial Athletic Association.

The conference title was the team’s second in program history and first since joining the CAA. The Huskies also tied a program record for victories in a season with 13.

Men’s soccer will take on Boston College in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Tournament on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Parsons Field.

In other action this weekend:

•    The men’s hockey team (4-4-1) swept non-conference foe Alabama-Huntsville at Matthews Arena. On Saturday night, the Huskies won 3-0 behind 19 saves from goalie Chris Rawlings, whose 10th career shutout marked a program record. On Sunday night, Northeastern prevailed 3-1.

•    The women’s volleyball team (20-6, 9-3 CAA) went 1-1 over the weekend in a pair of road matches, falling to James Madison on Friday night and defeating George Mason 3-0 on Saturday in its regular season finale.

Northeastern will head to Towson, Md., next weekend for the CAA Tournament. First serve between the No. 3 seed Huskies and No. 6 seed James Madison Dukes is set for 4 p.m. on Friday. The match will be streamed live on CAA.com.

•    In its season opener on Sunday afternoon, the Northeastern women’s basketball team lost to Eastern Michigan 50-47. The Huskies led by as many as 17, but the Eagles defense tightened up in the second half. Senior captain Deanna Kerkhof led the Huskies in scoring with 14 points, and also grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds to notch her first career double-double. The team returns to action on Thursday at LaSalle.

•    On Saturday afternoon, the women’s hockey team (8-1-2) upended Vermont 4-1 behind two goals by Casey Pickett and 23 saves by goaltender Chloe Desjardins. On Sunday afternoon, the two teams clashed again, with the game ending in a 4-4 tie.

•    The women’s field hockey team’s season ended this weekend when the third-seeded Huskies fell to the University of Connecticut 2-1 in double overtime in the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies gave an extraordinary effort, playing without all-time leading scorer Crystal Poland, who was sidelined with an injury.