WATERVILLE — The Thomas College men’s soccer team roared into the North Atlantic Conference tournament last season as the No. 1 seed and cruised to a title and an automatic NCAA Division III tournament berth.

The Terriers slipped quietly into the NAC tournament this fall as the No. 4 seed and knew they needed a remarkable run to defend their crown.

Different season, same result.

Kenny Cano scored two goals and Michael Hand added a goal and two assists as Thomas beat No. 6 Colby-Sawyer 4-1 on Saturday night to win its second consecutive NAC title.

“This year means a lot more to us,” Thomas coach Christopher Parsons said. “This year we had a lot of injuries and adversity that we had to overcome. We had a great run.”

The Terriers (12-7-1), who beat top-seed Castleton State in the semifinals, advance to the NCAA tournament for a second straight season. They lost to eventual Final Four participant Williams 2-1 last year.

“We want to go to the NCAAs and win one and then see if we can get on a run,” said Hand, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the NAC tournament. “We’re ready.”

Tre Ming also scored for Thomas while goalie Mikkail Crockwell had five saves, including a few from close range.

Thomas, which hosted the NAC championship game because No. 6 Colby-Sawyer (9-8-3) stunned No. 2 Maine Maritime in the semifinals, jumped out quickly with two goals in a three-minute span early in the first half.

Cano got it going first when he took a nice pass from Hand inside the box and ripped a low shot to the far post past Chargers keeper Nick Austin with 33 minutes, 12 seconds left in the half.

“Michael gave me a great pass and I had to finish,” Cano said.

Ming made it 2-0 when he took a flick pass from Hand and buried a past Austin from inside the box as well.

“All season long Michael and I have tried to develop a chemistry,” Ming said. “We worked well together there. It was a ticky-tacky goal.”

It also deflated the Chargers, who finished with 15 shots.

“Getting that two-goal lead was huge,” Parsons said. “Once the game settled down it was nice that we had a lead. It was such a big goal for us.”

It stayed 2-0 until Hand scored with 26:44 left in the second half to all but the game out of reach.

Hand, who scored two goals in the 2-0 upset win over No. 1 Castleton, took a header from Paul Rechichi and slipped a shot to the right corner for the 3-0 lead. Ming also assisted on the goal, which came off a corner.

“Once we got those first couple of goals I knew we wouldn’t give it up,” Hand said. “Once we got it to 3-0 we were pretty much in control.”

Cano made it 4-0 when he roofed a shot under the crossbar from about 35 yards out with 14:50 left in regulation.

The Chargers spoiled the shutout when Alex Ortego beat Crockwell from out front about 10 minutes later. Austin finished with four saves for Colby-Sawyer.

“Thomas just out-played us,” first-year Colby-Sawyer coach Craig Wilkinson said. “They moved the ball pretty good and they just play fast. We wish them the best of luck in the NCAA tournament.”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640[email protected]Twitter: @billstewartkj

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