WATERVILLE — The Thomas College Terriers were hoping to break away from what’s lately become the routine of their NCAA Division III Soccer Tournament appearances by either playing close to home or on turf.

The NCAA granted both wishes by sending them to Boston for a first-round match with host Brandeis.

“It is big,” Thomas coach Chris Parsons said. “We really wanted to be able to play on turf and we really wanted to not have to travel a big distance.”

Thomas (13-4-1) faces host Brandeis on Saturday at 5 p.m. The Judges (16-2-1) are ranked fifth by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and sixth by D3soccer.com.

Parsons thinks the relatively short commute to Boston will help his team keep its routine by making the trip on game day.

Coming off its fourth North Atlantic Conference title in six years by slipping by Castleton on penalty kicks, Thomas goes into the tournament looking for its first NCAA win in its fourth tournament appearance.

The veterans who can remember one-and-done trips to Williamstown, Massachusetts against Williams College in 2012 and Canton, New York against St. Lawrence in 2013 — Thomas also lost in the first round against William Paterson University in 2010 — said the combination of talent and venue has them feeling this year could be different.

“This is the year I feel really confident heading into the tournament,” said senior co-captain Lukas Bohman. “It’s going to be a really good matchup. They have good speed and we have definitely showed some speed of our own.”

“We’re really comfortable with our speed,” said sophomore forward/midfielder Kyle Fletcher, of Monmouth. “We think it’s one of the strongest parts of our game.”

Parsons drew talent from all over the world to get the Terriers back to the tournament after a one-year absence. The 2015 NAC Player of the Year, co-captain Tre Ming, played in this year’s World Cup qualifier for his home country, Bermuda. The senior midfielder is Thomas’ leading scorer (six goals, 20 assists) and one of the top three D-III players in the nation, according to Parsons.

“Everything runs through Tre,” Parsons said. “He’s our quarterback.”

Ming is one of six Bermudans, along with fellow midfielder and third-leading scorer sophomore Willie Clemons.

Bohman is one of four Swedes and provides excellent leadership from the back. Stockholm native Joakim Sternas, a junior, started 16 games in net and owns a 1.46 GAA and .758 save percentage.

A quartet of Maine freshmen — Adam LaBrie and Ben Vigue, of Yarmouth, Josh Emard, of Lebanon, and D.J. Nicholas, of Portland — became vital contributors. LaBrie, an All-New England selection, scored the game-winner in overtime against New England College in the NAC semifinals. Nicholas leads the team with 13 goals, Emard is tied with Clemons for third on the team in scoring (25 points) and Vigue helps Bohman hold down the back line.

Another freshman, Alex Berard, of Winslow, appeared in three games in net and didn’t allow a goal in over 72 minutes of action.

Parsons welcomed 10 new players to the team this year figuring the Terriers might have to do some rebuilding after graduating 2014 NAC Player of the Year Dakota Duplissie.

“When we came in, we didn’t really know what we were looking at,” Bohman said. “But we really came together the last few months.”

The Terriers hit their stride after a 2-3 start that included losses to UMaine-Fort Kent, UMass-Boston and Bates. They won 10 of their last 11 in the regular season and 12 of their last 13 overall.

“The team turned into a family away from the team and away from the field,” Parsons said. “It’s been incredible to see a team with these dynamics and this diversity really come together.”

Players like Fletcher — who has three goals and can come off the bench to play multiple positions at forward and midfield — and junior midfielder London Steede-Jackson have helped give Parsons the best group of attackers he’s had since becoming head coach in 2011. He expects the Terriers to put some heat on Brandeis’ defense.

“I feel like we’re going to have opportunities,” Parsons said. “But at the same time, on the defensive side, we’re going to have to be sharp because Brandeis is very good at creating opportunities, too.”

“We can’t just turn it on and off,” Fletcher said. “We have to play a 90-minute game.”

The winner of that game will face the winner of Saturday’s other first-round matchup at Brandeis, Stevens Institute of Technology (15-3-2) vs. RPI (11-4-3), on Sunday.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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