Close Page

Sweet surprise: MNU men’s soccer ends year with national tournament berth

Sports
By Alex Schmitt
Dec 06, 2017

Jonathan Koch threw his jersey into his bag and stormed over to Cook Center. The text he had received from his coach was clear.  

“[Coach] was like, ‘Team meeting at 12, bring your gear,’” Koch said. "We’re gonna do gear check out … we didn’t make it. Everyone was super depressed and angry.”

This is the first time in Koch’s four years of soccer at MNU that the university wouldn’t be in the national championship tournament—an ending he didn’t want for his senior year.

As he stomped into the room filled with disgruntled players, a TV screen was rolling the list of NAIA schools that had made it to the national competition. He leapt up in surprise; MidAmerica Nazarene University was on the list. Somehow, the university made it to the national tournament.

One week later, on a chilly Saturday afternoon, Koch looked at the scoreboard. There the score stood: 2-1, with Wayland Baptist coming out on top. The one goal he scored just wasn’t quite enough as the clock hit 90 minutes. MNU had fallen.

Though a seemingly sad end to the season, this is still a year that by most accounts would be deemed a success. Out of 199 teams, only 30 make it to the national competition each year.  

Head Coach Kevin Wardlaw said that MNU has set an extremely high standard for itself.

“[MNU has] made the Sweet 16 at least every single year since 2012,” Wardlaw said. “Inside of that were two Final Fours and a national championship game.” This was the break in that five-year streak.

Even qualifying for the national competition was difficult this year. Goalkeeper Juan Pablo Riesco said that there were questions as to whether the university would make the cut.

23592223 10212720222053616 306630559851822706 oJuan Pablo Riesco defends the goal against Wayland Baptist University (Texas) on Nov. 18. The Pioneers fell 2-1 and thus ended their postseason run. Photo by Jim Smith.“We knew it was going to be tied because the results that went through the country had surprises,” Riesco said. “ We didn’t know if we were going to make it.”

The season had a big finish for MNU’s 11 senior soccer players. For many, this is the end of their soccer careers, but some hope to continue in the game.

“I have been in talks,” Riesco said, “[Going professional] is the plan.”

For MNU soccer however, the team looks to the future, specifically next season. This is a larger senior class than normal, and the large turnover will affect the team’s chemistry.

“The team will have a new look next year,” Wardlaw said. “That’ll be interesting because we haven’t really had a new look for quite a few years.”

Wardlaw also thinks next year’s team will have to make a new identity for MNU soccer.

Despite the turnover of seniors and the performance of the team this year, Wardlaw is sure that the pattern of excellence in MNU soccer will continue.

 

Alex Schmitt

- More by this author

Alex Schmitt is a History at MidAmerica Nazarene University, and he is also the news editor for The Trailblazer.

comments powered by Disqus
IMG 3696

Cross country runs to a top 20 finish at nationals

For most college students, having to run a mile would be seen as a punishment and a burden. However, to the MNU cross country team, running only a mile is a nice day off.

moia112717

Many parts, one body

No. 19 MNU women's basketball team united in diversity

23592223 10212720222053616 306630559851822706 o

Sweet surprise: MNU men’s soccer ends year with national tournament berth

Jonathan Koch threw his jersey into his bag and stormed over to Cook Center. The text he had received from his coach was clear.

bfmock

Sunderland Foundation gives a second sizable donation toward MNU’s new Student Center

The Sunderland Foundation donated $300 thousand to MNU to go toward the building of a new Student Center in late October. The donation was the second gift from the Sunderland Foundation in two years.

file

Creative Spaces

Replenishing the mind and body through art

Devin Kelley

When answers are not enough

Responding to tragedies such as the Texas church shooting

Quick updates Nov. 2017

Men’s Soccer After an overtime win on penalty kicks on Nov. 3 at No.

JGMBB

Men's basketball team hits the ground running

This isn't true for the members of the MNU men’s basketball team.  Since August, the team has put in many hours on the court, in the weight room, in the film room and even on the track in preparation for the upcoming season.

Extreme makeover: website edition

MNU’s main online presence will undergo a facelift in 2018. After five years with the same website, the university’s Marketing and Communications Department wants a web platform that better accommodates potential and current students.

Videos / See More