Men’s soccer receives at-large bid to NCAA championship

Junior defender Lorenzo Belassen, right, chases Redlands junior defender Ben Thompson down the sideline Nov. 5. Despite losing the game, the Panthers received an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. Photo courtesy of Redlands Sports Info.

Junior defender Lorenzo Belassen, right, chases Redlands junior defender Ben Thompson down the sideline Nov. 5. Despite losing the game, the Panthers received an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament. Photo courtesy of Redlands Sports Info.

Despite falling to the University of Redlands Nov. 5 in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) championship game, the Chapman men’s soccer team was given an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III men’s soccer championship.

The NCAA Division III men’s soccer championship bracket was released on Monday, Nov. 7 and Chapman was given a bid due to its overall performance over the course of the season. This is the first at-large bid for any current member of the team, according to head coach Eddie Carrillo, who credited a Sept. 18 win over Christopher Newport University — ranked eighth in the country at the time — as playing a big part in the team receiving a bid.

“I think that we went out and we challenged ourselves,” 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.”

While the winner of the SCIAC gets an automatic bid to the tournament, the NCAA also gives out at-large bids to teams like Chapman, after deciding they played well enough throughout the year to qualify for the tournament.

Carrillo said he had an inclination that the team might receive a bid.

“It was great,” Carrillo said. “I was very happy for the boys. 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, but they were very excited and I was very excited for them too.”

Though as of Nov. 7 no official game time has been set, Chapman will travel down to San Antonio to play the University of Texas at Dallas Nov. 12 at Trinity University’s Paul McGinlay Field. Trinity is the host of Chapman’s four-team group which also features Whitworth University. According to Sports Information Director Steven Olveda, in the first stage of the Division III championship, there is one host university for each four-team group.

Carrillo said that the team would have to improve on some aspects of its game before the trip down to Texas, but would try to prepare as it usually does despite some unknown variables going in.

“I think we’ve always tried to keep our routine and do what we do and it’s going to be a little different,” Carrillo said. “I’m not sure if we’re playing on grass and I haven’t been there this at time of the year. I know earlier in the year it’s pretty humid out there and hot. I don’t know what the weather is like right now out there, so I guess that would be the only variable, but we will just try and stay focused, maybe focus a little bit on our set plays and maybe just work on cleaning up a few things defensively to make sure that we’re not going to give up a goal that we’re going to regret.”

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