stop
Article Image
Send this article to a friend Print RSS

Belhaven (Miss.) Wins First Soccer Title Since 1992

December 01, 2012

By Kay Hawes, NAIA Director of Marketing and Public Relations

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - (Bracket) (Video Celebration) The Blazers of Belhaven (Miss.) employed a disciplined defense and a series of wise substitutions in a 2-0 victory over the Rams of Mobile (Ala.), taking home the title in the 54th annual NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship, presented by Carrabba's Italian Grill and co-hosted by the Central Alabama Sports Commission and the Southern States Athletic Conference.

Belhaven (19-4-1) goalkeeper Carl Blundell recorded four saves, as the Blazers defense, including Defensive Player of the Tournament, Tom Cosgrove, held the Rams scoreless. Belhaven's Victor Lawrence and Tom Cosgrave each scored goals for the Blazers in the championship final today from the Emory Folmar Soccer Complex.

Belhaven's only previous National Championship final was in 1992, when the Blazers won the title. Belhaven head coach Brian McMahon had shirts made for the team that simply said, "92." The message was clear-the opportunity to play for a National Championship doesn't come often, seize the day.

Mobile, seeded No. 11 in the championship, had already beaten Belhaven, 3-1, in October in a regular-season game as both teams are in the Southern States Athletic Conference. Belhaven, seeded No. 12, substituted liberally, with 18 different players seeing action in the National Championship final.

Both Belhaven and Mobile seem buoyed by significant fan attendance for the game. Fans for both teams beat drums, painted their faces and cheered loudly throughout the entire match.

"This is a special experience," said Belhaven coach McMahon, who just completed his first season with the Blazers. "Since the day I came in here, the department has been very supportive and always trying to continue to move it forward. It is a great experience for the team, but also for the school. It's great to see faculty and staff here. It's just an awesome honor."

Mobile, playing its fourth overall National Championship final, ends its season at 17-5-2.

National Championship Final Notes:
• Belhaven wins its second all-time national championship - two in men's soccer and one in men's tennis.
• The Blazers improve to 2-0 all-time when playing in the title bout. Mobile falls to 1-3 in this event.
• Belhaven becomes the first team since 2009 to score the first goal and hang on for the victory in the title game.
• Belhaven snaps a three-match overall losing streak to Mobile. The first loss in that streak was the only previous postseason meeting in the 2010 National Championship Second Round.
• Belhaven becomes the ninth different team in NAIA men's soccer history to win multiple national championships.
• The shutout is a first in the final since 2009 when Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) took a 1-0 match over The Master's (Calif.).
• With both teams in today's championship final being a double-digit seed, that fact marks the first time both clubs were seeded 10th-or-higer since 1999 when the current format of seeded teams went into effect.
• In all-time national championship action, Belhaven improves to 14-8-4 in its ninth national championship and Mobile now falls to 25-15-2 in its 16th appearance.
• The two teams matching up from the same conference, the Southern States Athletic Conference, is a first in the title game since 2007 when Golden State Athletic Conference members Azusa Pacific (Calif.) and Concordia (Calif.) faced off.
• Belhaven is the first team from the Southern States Athletic Conference since Mobile in 2002 to win it all.
• As the No. 12 seed, Belhaven is the lowest seed to win the national title since unseeded Bethel (Tenn.) got past Rio Grande (Ohio), 2-1, in the 2008 championship.
• The Tournament Most Valuable Player, Victor Lawrence, finished his National Championship with four goals overall after his marker in the 15th minute.
• As a team, Belhaven outscored the opposition 13-3 in five matches in the National Championship.

2012 NAIA Men's Soccer All-Tournament Team
Goalkeepers
Carl Blundell, Belhaven (Miss.)
Chris Ericksson, MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)

Forwards
Lebogang Moloto, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
William Prado, Concordia (Calif.)
Gaetan Massiah, Mobile (Ala.)
Victor Lawrence, Belhaven (Miss.)

Midfielders
Stephen Okai, Mobile (Ala.)
Tom Gavin, Belhaven (Miss.)
Eduardo Cruz, Belhaven (Miss.)
Jeremie Koffi, MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)

Defenders
Sicelo Buthelezi, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)
Tom Cosgrave, Belhaven (Miss.)
Aurelien Norest, MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.)
Pierre Mangold, Mobile (Ala.)

Most Valuable Player of the Tournament
Victor Lawrence, Belhaven (Miss.)

Offensive Player of the Tournament
Lebogang Moloto, Lindsey Wilson (Ky.)

Defensive Player of the Tournament
Tom Cosgrave, Belhaven (Miss.)

Champions of Character Select Sports America-NAIA Scholarship Recipient
Paul Floersch, Benedictine (Kan.)

Nels Dahlquist Memorial Team Sportsmanship Award
Auburn Montgomery (Ala.)