Semifinals Preview: 2018 NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship
By Pete Scantlebury, NAIA Manager of Athletics Communications
IRVINE, Calif. – [BRACKET] A first-time champion will be officially crowned in the 2018 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship as the semifinal field is dominated by new names – and one team that’s been on the cusp but has yet to breakthrough.
William Carey (Miss.), Central Methodist (Mo.), Missouri Valley (Mo.) and Madonna (Mich.) will represent three conferences in the semifinal round, which
Quarterfinal Results | November 28,
Game 25 – No. 5 Missouri Valley def. No. 4 Rio Grande (Ohio) 2-1 (2OT)
Game 26 – No. 1 William Carey def. No. 9 Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) 2-1 (OT)
Game 27 – Madonna def. No. 2 Oklahoma Wesleyan 1-0
Game 28 – No. 3 Central Methodist def. Rocky Mountain (Mont.) 1-0
Semifinal Schedule | November 30,
Game 29 – No. 1 William Carey vs. No. 5 Missouri Valley | 4 p.m. PST
Game 30 – No. 3 Central Methodist vs. Madonna | 6:30 p.m. PST
2018 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship –
- William Carey is the lone remaining program with a previous championship-game appearance. The Crusaders – the top seed in the 2018 tournament – have three third-place finishes in its history. Their most recent semifinals appearance came in 2011.
- This is William Carey’s 12th overall postseason appearance. The Crusaders have made it each of the past three seasons, after a four-year absence from 2012-2015.
- Central Methodist has had a remarkable run this season and made the NAIA men’s soccer postseason tournament for the first time in school history. The Eagles, the third-seed in the 2018 National Championship, have shown exponential improvement over the last few seasons under head coach Alex Nichols. Needless to say, this is the program’s first semifinal appearance.
- Madonna is the lone unseeded team left in the tournament, and the Crusaders have had to go the hard way to get to the semifinals. Madonna knocked off seventh-seed Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) 1-0 in the Opening Round, then beat ninth-seeded Bellevue (Neb.) in the Round of 16 before defeating second-seeded Oklahoma Wesleyan 1-0 (notice a trend?) in the quarterfinals.
- Madonna is the only team in the tournament to not surrender a goal.
- Madonna is making its fifth postseason appearance, and that includes each of the past two years. Madonna lost in the Round of 16 a year ago to another semifinalist this year – Missouri Valley. The Crusaders will have to wait until the national championship for potential revenge, however, as the teams are on opposite sides of the bracket.
- Missouri Valley returns as the 2017 runner-up, losing to unseeded Wayland Baptist 1-0 in that final. The Vikings – the fifth seed in the 2018 tournament – have made the postseason each year since 2010 with the exception of 2016.
- Both of the tournament leaders in goals scored – Cardinal Stritch’s Teren Schuster and Oklahoma Wesleyan’s Stefan Cvetanovic – did not advance to the semifinals. Schuster finished with four goals in three games; Cvetanovic finished with three, and added two assists, in three games.
- William Carey’s Joaquin Ruiz Cabello leads the semifinalists in points per game with 2.33. He has two goals and three assists in three games.
- Central Methodist and Missouri Valley – two Heart of America Athletic Conference teams – lead the tournament with eight goals in three games. Madonna, as mentioned earlier, is the stingiest defense left, with no goals allowed in three tournament games. Central Methodist has allowed one goal in the tournament, and no goals in two final-site games.
- Missouri Valley and William Carey have each surrendered two goals in the tournament so far.