Men’s soccer advances to second round of NCAA championship

tu1_4193

Senior midfielder Jake Sarmiento tries to pass a ball while being pressured by UT-Dallas’ senior midfielder Connor Crabtree in Saturday’s win in San Antonio, Texas. Photo courtesy of Trinity University

For the first time since 1998, the Chapman men’s soccer team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship with a 1-0 win over the University of Texas at Dallas Nov. 12.

Chapman (15-5-2, 10-4-2) traveled to Trinity University’s Paul McGinlay Field in San Antonio, Texas for the game, where it will play at 6 p.m. tomorrow in the second round of the championship against Trinity College (21-1-0).

Despite losing in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (SCIAC) finals Nov. 5, the team found out it received an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III championships two days later.

Ahead of the game, senior midfielder Jake Sarmiento said he and the rest of the team were excited for the challenge to play against teams that are ranked higher.

“The great thing about tomorrow and this tournament as a whole is that we are the underdogs,” Sarmiento said. “And we play best as underdogs.”

tu1_4298

Senior defender Connor Tobia jumps for a header against two UT Dallas defenders. Photo courtesy of Trinity University

Head coach Eddie Carrillo said the bid was something he was cautiously optimistic about, but expected after a Sept. 18 win over now No. 21 ranked Christopher Newport University (18-2-1, 8-0-1), which was ranked eighth in the country at the time.

“I had an idea that we were probably going to get one, but I didn’t want to tell anybody because it’s not going to help,” Carrillo said. “The reason we probably got the bid is because we took that game with Christopher Newport on that Sunday, right in the middle of our conference schedule and then we did well in that game. I think it said that we’re willing to compete with whoever is on the schedule and whoever wants to play us.”

Chapman got off to a quick start in Saturday’s game. After being suspended in the SCIAC championship game against the No. 25 ranked University of Redlands (16-5-1, 12-4-1) due to a red card in the previous game, junior midfielder Elliott Braund returned to make a huge impact for Chapman.

tu1_4268

Senior midfielder Marco Saglimbeni looks to shield the ball from UT Dallas senior defender Stephen Melchor. Photo courtesy of Trinity University

Braund was assisted by senior midfielder Marco Saglimbeni — who he tied as the team’s leading goal scorer with eight goals — and junior midfielder Zev Gollis in the eighth minute of the game for a goal that would prove to decide the outcome.

“Scoring early was definitely a boost for us all. I thought we started strong and scoring the goal gave us a reward for that,” Braund said. “It also gave us something to protect, and changed the mentality of the other team more than anything.”

While each team had its fair share of chances in the game, with Chapman only taking four more shots compared to UT Dallas’ 11 shots, the Panthers had a few scares in the second half, including when UT Dallas’ (14-5-1, 9-0-1) was awarded a penalty kick in the 64th minute, which was saved by junior goalkeeper Sean Augustine, who saved the penalty kick taken by UT Dallas’ junior midfielder Isaac Urcuyo.

Braund said the team was indebted to Augustine for the save.

“Sean’s save, wow… I mean the player hit it very well, and the big man has kept us in the game for another time this season,” Braund said. “I think we were all relieved, and happy that we still had the advantage. But we have so much trust in him — he’s come up big for us in big games this season and this was just another example. It’s so much greater being able to play with the confidence of having a keeper like Sean behind you.”

Chapman also allowed two near-goals in the final 12 minutes of the game as UT Dallas’ had a point-blank shot from junior midfielder Danny Meyer go just inches wide of the left goalpost in the 79th minute. Less than a minute later, senior midfielder Erik Reyes nearly equalized for UT-Dallas’, as his shot from the top right side of the 18-yard box hit the left goalpost and bounced wide for Chapman to clear the ball.

The Panthers were able to calm the game down after that series, often clearing the ball upfield, until the final whistle blew, which signaled Chapman’s first appearance in the second round of the NCAA Division III championship in 18 years.

Sarmiento said that although Chapman didn’t win a SCIAC title this year, the team’s presence in the NCAA Championship is something it should take pride in.

“As a whole, I’m very proud of this team and what we accomplished this season,” Sarmiento said. “It may not have turned out the way we wanted in the final, but we still made it to the NCAA tournament, something none of us have experienced yet.”

Information on Chapman’s game against No. 3 ranked Trinity (20-1,13-1) can be found here.

1 Comment

Leave a Comment