On Saturday, Nov. 17 head coach David Blahnik and the Olivet Nazarene University men’s soccer team defeated the No. 8 ranked Kansas Wesleyan University Coyotes in the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round by a score of 3-2 in overtime to advance in the postseason.
The Tigers move on to play No. 15 MidAmerica Nazarene University (Kan.) in the second round of the national tournament in Montgomery, Ala. on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 6:30 p.m. (CST). The championships are played at Emory Folmar YMCA Soccer Complex from Nov. 26-31. The winner of ONU and MNU take on the winner of No. 2 Auburn-Montgomery and #24 Jamestown (N.D.) on Wednesday, Nov. 28 at 6:30 p.m. (CST).
The Tigers and Pioneers met a year ago on Sept. 5 in Bourbonnais, Ill. with MNU winning 1-0 in an early season nonconference contest.
This marks only the second time in ONU history the Tigers reached the opening round, and the first time Olivet has reached the second round. The Tigers reached the opening round for the first time in 2009 after winning the CCAC Tournament Championship; in 2009 the Tigers finished with a 10-3-5 record. ONU currently holds a 14-4-4 overall record winning nine of their last 11 games, tying the other two. They have also played 13 overtime periods this season remaining unbeaten in extra minute games. The Tigers have defeated or tied three ranked opponents this season tying No. 17 Ashford 1-1 in overtime on Sept. 19, beating No. 25 Robert Morris 3-1 on Oct. 17, and recently taking down KWU on Saturday. Olivet is currently receiving 11 votes in the Nov. 12 NAIA Top 25 poll.
Olivet is led by senior forward Logan Engelkes (Winnebago, Ill.), who scored the game-winner in the opening round against KWU, finishing with three points. Sophomore Todd Bevan (Schererville, Ind.) scored the first goal against the Coyotes giving him four goals this postseason and nine this season (2nd on team). Goalkeeper Zach Chambers (Flanders, N.J.) has allowed five goals this postseason, but none in five overtime periods, saving 19 shots.
The Tigers opponent MidAmerica enters Tuesday’s game with an 12-1-8 record after recently tying #RV Oklahoma Baptist University but fell in a shootout (5-4) after two overtime periods. However, the Bison forfeited their spot in the tournament after one of their players was ruled ineligible and played in the game against MNU. This ruling gives the Pioneers the opportunity to play against the Tigers. MNU made their way to the opening round after tying #9 Benedictine University (Kan.) and falling in a shootout 3-1 in a Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament semifinal game following two overtimes. However, the Pioneers reached the opening round with at-large bid. Against seven ranked opponents this season the Pioneers tied five different opponents and beat No. 15 Kansas Wesleyan 3-1 on Sept. 20 and No. 13 Missouri Valley College on Sept. 29. The Pioneers finished 4-1-2 in conference play, tied for second, in the regular season.
MNU is led by head coach Kevin Wardlaw, who is in 10th season with the Pioneers. The Pioneers are spearheaded by senior forward Trent Remmich, who currently leads the team with 11 goals and two assists. Freshman forward Eddie Morales is second on the team with 21 points (8 goals, 5 assists). Junior goalkeeper Chris Eriksson currently has a 0.77 goals against average.
Coach Blahnik commented, "We are very excited to go to Alabama for the sweet sixteen. I am very happy for our guys, their hard work and positive attitudes have helped get us to this point. There are no easy games at this point in the season and we will work as hard as we can to be successful in Alabama. Every guy on this roster has played a vital role in our success this season. I am very thankful for the guys on our team, my coaching staff and all the support from the Olivet Community."
Tournament Bracket: http://www.naia.org/fls/27900/1NAIA/SportsInfo/Championships/2012MSOCBracket.pdf?&SPSID=640532&SPID=96220&DB_LANG=C&DB_OEM_ID=27900