St Thomas (TX)
claimed their first-ever Red River Conference title, and as a result, they get rewarded by opening the national tournament against defending champs, Belhaven. A player to watch is crafty sophomore (Jamestown transfer) Paulo Sacramento, who has been an immediate contributor to the Celts in the 2013 season with 9 goals and 7 assists. Some say their strength of conference teams is low, they did bolster their non-conference slate with games against Mobile, William Carey and Northwood, and went 1-1-1 against them. It’ll be interesting to see how they fair against the Blazers.
relies heavily on Rowan Liburd and Jarrod Ingram as they combine for 31 of the team’s 58 goals on the season. With that being said, it is unlikely that both players will have an ‘off night’ and both players are capable of taking over a game. Not only are they great goal scorers, but they distribute the ball well with providing another 14 combined assists. When they are not competing in the Sun Conference, Thomas is usually playing someone in the SSAC- which we all know will be quality competition. At 15-3-2, they can put some points on the board and they will be “FUN” program to watch in their first-ever appearance on the national stage.
brought a welcoming gift to the SSAC in their first year in the conference by stealing the conference tournament title by defeating Belhaven in the Final match. The Red Hawks are well-balanced offensively with the likes of Kristofferson, Remond and Fulton. But for Martin Methodist to stretch defenses and become affective, play has start with Sophomore Canadian Sean Dong, who has tallied 11 goals and 2 assists on the year. The Red Hawks will face off against Bryan in the opening round, which they played earlier in the year and lost 1-0 at Bryan. Look for revenge on their minds this time around.
.....Can they make another dream run to the “Fab Four” in 2013? Only time will tell. But the Pioneers squeaked into the national tournament with one of the final At-Large Bids. The Pioneers lost in the HAAC Final 1-0 to #8 Baker, but defeated another national tournament team in #16 Missouri Valley 3-2 in the HAAC Semis. Oh, they also knocked off Benedictine (another natl contender) to claim a share of regular season title. In other words, they are more than qualified. The Pioneers defend REALLY well, giving up only 16 goals all season. Credit goes to HAAC MVP and Defender of the Year (in a loaded conference, mind you) Aurelien Norest, who will be the key to the Pioneers success in hopes for another deep tournament run.
Head Coach Scott Morrissey told us prior to the season that his incoming 2013 class of players could be the best to date. That’s saying a lot, but definitely might be the case. With a 15-2 record, the Rio Red Storm is hitting on all cylinders by capping off the season with the Mid-South Title, and much has to do with the play of sophomore FWD Luiz Filho, who netted 27 goals on the season. But with the return of William Pauliono- this could be dangerous. William was slowed down in the beginning of the season with an injury and missed most of the first half of the regular season. William is fully fit and has really started playing up to his abilities. William has the ability to change the game by his pace and work rate. He is outstanding in 1v1 situations and also delivers a great ball into the box. A fully fit William Paulino will cause problems for any back 4 in the tournament. Also, with the better play of Maxi Viera in 2013 as well, compared to his sub-par 2012 year, Rio will be a favorite to make the Finals. Early exits the last few years have been the storyline for Rio Grande though at the national tournament; will they change that this year?
is no stranger to the national tournament scene, and they made a deep run into the championship in 2012. This year, with the Sooner Athletic Conference title under their belt, the Drovers will be eager to make a deep run once again behind an always-solid defense, flashy forwards and the player to watch, Liam Madden. Madden, the SAC MVP this season, is the key to maintaining possession for Hampton’s team as well as unbalancing opposing defense with his pass in the final third. He can also find the net from distance, so be aware.
the 2010 National Champion, has crept up the polls all season long, and will earn respect by receiving one of the prized At-Large bids into this year’s national tournament after a narrow loss to Midland 1-0 in the conference final. Kranjc continues to refuel his squad, even after the recent losses to former standouts such as Nate Polak and Jordan Green. The Broncos look to their #10 as their playmaker, and ‘go-to’ guy, Thomas Boss. Boss plays an attacking role, he is great in finding the pass in behind or being able to recirculate the ball. A pure box-to-box midfielder, he really helps the Broncos stay balanced by playing both sides of the ball extremely well.
has come onto the national scene as about as quick as any program could. The Grizzlies, entering the national tournament with a 15-4 record are competing in their first-ever tournament in just their 2nd season as a program. Veteran Head Coach Steve DeCou has a lot to do with this. And he relies heavily on the success and versatility of Rene Enang. A senior from Kumba, Cameroon; Rene transferred into GGC from Georgia Military College. Rene is a very versatile player as he’s played center back, center mid, and striker for GGC, due to injuries in the team. Rene is a powerful ball winner, a big strong kid that is hard to knock off the ball and a good finisher. Rene has a motor that won’t stop and he’d cover every blade of grass if needed, it is this mentality that has made him a quiet leader for the Grizzlies squad. Expect Georgia Gwinnett to compete well this tournament, regardless of their opponent.
earns the overall #1 seed in the national tournament, and with that comes high expectations for the Des Moines-based side. The Vikings are currently riding a 10-game winning streak, behind the leadership of captain and MCC Player of the Year, Jonny Mcadam. A player on our spotlight since he emerged a couple national tournaments ago, Mcadam has scored 12 goals and 5 assists in the 2013 season, but more than that, he understands the game, motivates his teammates and is committed to a high work rate on the pitch in order to be successful. He plays at a high level in the PDL each summer, and has a load of experience coming into his final appearance at the National Championship. Expect big things from Grand View, at least we do.
will return to the national tournament for its 10th time, after capturing the National Championship crown a year ago in Montgomery. Losing in the SSAC Final to newcomer Martin Methodist, the Blazers earned one of the nine at-large spots into the tournament. The player that continues to impress us is MF Eduardo Cruz, a playmaker for the Blazers. Since his transfer from Ashford a year ago, he has contributed in huge ways for Belhaven over the past two seasons starting 44 of 47 matches, and has 8 goals and 6 assists this year for his side. He plays in the middle of the park, and controls the tempo of matches. With a strong schedule from top to bottom, the Blazers will still be a force to be reckoned with- regardless of their success compared to a year ago.
has always been a tough team, but has struggled to put the final touches on the puzzle when it comes to the national spotlight, ever since their run back in 2009. This season, even though they were unable to get a real winning streak rolling, the Bruins beat off a talented Oklahoma Wesleyan side in the MCAC Final to earn their right to the national tournament, avenging an earlier OT loss to OWU in the regular season. They also beat a solid side in Hastings, yet losing by large margins to other national tournament teams such as Midland and Ashford. The Bruins will look to their 1st Team All-MCAC playmaker Manuel Lira to get their offense going in the national tournament, as he counts for 17 points this season, including three GW goals.
capped off an impressive season by winning the AAC and finishing with a 15-3 record overall. While many say the AAC is down in regards to level of play this season, they did show their strength and ability with two close-fought matches with Rio Grande and Lindsey Wilson, both losing by 1 goal and in OT to LWC. AAC’s Player of the Year and Newcastle, England native, Daniel Branley, is a textbook finisher, and has come a long way since his 2011 season. The striker knows has to score goals, and finishes when it matters most, with 11 GW goals this season alone for the Lions. He has the ability to hold the ball up well and get himself in dangerous areas in the attack with a sharp finishing touch when service is provided.
making their only 2nd trip to the national tournament, held off to win the regular season title in the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference, with a 12-5-2 record even though losing in the 1st round of their conference tournament. The Wolves have a solid defense, anchored by CCAC Player of the Year, Oliver Bell. The 6’3” Centerback is a leader and dictates how his team defends and moves forward. He gets a load of help from fellow upperclassmen, Josh Roberts, who has tallied 9 goals on the year for the Wolves.
is making their 6th national championship, and locked up the always-tough GSAC Tournament Title by defeating #20 Biola 3-2. The Eagles will be a tough team to handle, hands down. With a 9-1 finish in the conference and 14-4 overall, Concordia should make another deep run in the Tournament. Without the likes of Will Prado and Christian Ramirez (who bagged a ton of goals in 2012 before graduating), Chris Gould has refueled with several transfers including the threatening #5 Adrian Padilla. He is the GSAC player of the year and is responsible for much of the Concordia attack. He is a student of the game and has a knack for playing the right ball at the right time. He clearly has the respect of the teams in our conference. Adrian's college resume is littered with honors and awards at his Junior College he won 2 National titles, was the Athlete of the Year. At CIU, he has won 2 conference and conference tournament titles--the kid is just a winner.
is making their 1st ever national tournament appearance, and has only been knocked off balance one time this entire year at 16-1-2. Defeating teams such as Simpson, Oregon Tech and Concordia (Oreg.) twice is no easy task. The Warriors won the CCC Tournament for first time since 1997, behind Leading scorer, First Team All Cascade and Newcomer of the Year, Kemar Prince, who will be the player to watch for the Warriors. He is a super freshman that has helped Corban move forward very fast in the national rankings.
is making their first trip since 2010 and just the 2nd tournament appearance overall with a hefty 19-2 record overall and are riding an impressive current 15-game winning streak entering their round of 32 match. Everything runs through WHAC Player of the Year, Dzenan Catic, who literally has carried Davenport on his back with 24 goals and 3 assists in 2013. Davenport doesn’t have an issue scoring goals, so Indiana Wesleyan among others will need to defend very well in order to be successful against the WHAC Champs
is entering into the national championship for the 2nd consecutive season after advancing to the Round of 16 in 2012. Even though they lost in the AAI Title Game to a strong Georgia Gwinnett side, the Saints earned an automatic bid to the Round of 32. Even though unattached in regards to conference play, the Saints boast a tough schedule annually giving them the opportunity to become national contenders each season. Two players to watch and who are on our Watch List is returnee, Lucas Almeida, (12 g, 8 a in 2012) who comes in with 26 points on the year. He also holds the all-time school record for career goals. An explosive maker, who is always a threat on and off the ball, Almeida will give teams a lot of trouble. Also stealing the spotlight for Ashford though is German-born Daniel Dreier, who finished the regular season with 12 goals and 7 assists to lead all players.
Auburn Montgomery (AUM)
is entering the national championship as the #7-ranked team in the nation, and capped off the regular season conference title in the tough SSAC. In 2013, the Warhawks faced six teams that qualified for the national championship showing the strength of their schedule. The biggest player to impress us is: Sebastian Wladyko. His Sophmore campaign - he has been selected to the SSAC First Team and has so far tallied six goals and six assists. “Seb” is an extremely talented player. He is deadly on set-pieces. At 6'2 and 180lbs, he is a physical presence in the midfield and has a very high rate of winning 50/50 balls. Seb is extremely talented technically and can play accurate balls over distance with ease and he can also crush the ball with tremendous accuracy onto target. His tactical knowledge is superb. He played in the U-19 Bundesliga for FC Union Berlin and has also been a member of the U-18 Polish National Team. While AUM went on a mid-season 9 game winning streak, the Warhawks’ defense gave up a lot of goals late in the year in tight matches. They will need to continue to score goals in order to be successful.
capped off their season in an impressive fashion, winning six straight matches which included the Title Match of the HAAC Conference against three Top-6 nationally ranked teams. Well deserved, Baker returns to the National scene, after an impressive run back in 2011. The Wildcats are a well-balanced squad, no one that will just ‘wow’ you, but they know how to win games. And it starts with their veteran GK Matt Bickley, who has been a staple in the Wildcats team for several seasons. Giving up less than a goal a game, Bickley will be the key to their success in the national tournament.
has rapidly entered the national spotlight since the addition of young and energetic Head Coach Sean Fraser. Entering the Top 10 NAIA Polls for the first time in school history, the Warriors defeated Hastings 1-0 in the GPAC Championship and are making just their 2nd tournament appearance with a chance to end up in Alabama in December. Coming highly-regarded across the conference is Midland’s “Quarterback” for the team, if you want to say, Sam Blackman. He is a special player who can control the tempo of a whole soccer match and can link everything together. He has energy, can tackle, is a good communicator and is likely one of the best passers of a ball in the nation. As a center-mid, he will be a player to watch.
is in the same boat as Kansas Wesleyan: A lot of national tournament appearances, but seem to never be able to get past the opening round. The Vikings earned an At-Large bid as well coming out of the HAAC. The Vikings have a load of creativity and grit, but who is most likely to contribute the most are Seniors MF Miguel Jimenez and FW Nicholas Alexander. If both can be on their game, they will be tough to handle.
is entering the national tournament on a ticket from the #2 At-Large bid, after a solid 2013 season. They tallied some tough wins over Mid-America Nazarene, The Masters, Kansas Wesleyan, Grand View, and Bellevue before losing to the Bruins 1-0 in the MCAC Final. Oklahoma Wesleyan’s strongest player is #10 Lucas Almeida. Yes, another Lucas Almeida. He plays as a Left Mid or Center Mid at times. Lucas impacts the OWU team in a great way as the captain of four years and leads by his work rate and flare for the game. His creativity starts the attack and helps in combination play in the final third. Lucas comes from Sao Paulo, Brazil where he grew up with a rich tradition playing in youth clubs. Lucas has 51 career goals and 31 assists to combine for 133 career points. Lucas will be a great player to watch for during this year’s tournament.
earned the right to represent the Chicagoland conference by winning the conference tournament, making their 3rd tournament at nationals, and are 1-1-1 overall in the national spotlight. The Tigers play will run through its two Senior Canadian players, DF John Nardozzi and FW Michael Da Silva, who both capped off their final seasons with First Team awards. Nardozzi is a rock in the back four of Olivet's defense as a center back and has helped ONU hold their opponents to a GA average of .94 and they have seven (7) shutouts on the year. Da Silva gets things going offensively with a team-high 25 points. Olivet played some quality non-conference matches (Ashford, #1 Grand View with a win), which will help them down the path in the nat’l tournament if they want to be successful.
is a contender every year, but has slipped through cracks in recent years. They’ve made the national tournament on (10) ten different occasions, but haven’t been back since 2008. They’ll have to have one of their best performances of the season when they face off against nine-time champs, Lindsey Wilson, in the opening round. Park captured the American Midwest Conference Tournament in 2013. Park is led by eight goals from First-Team All-AMC midfielder Carlos Trombini Filho, who also has nine assists for a team-high 25 points. His performance is critical for his team especially against a good, not great LWC back-four defense.
will have their hands full in the opening round of the national tournament by heading south to face Rio Grande. That being said, PPU has strung together two consecutive successful seasons with back-to-back appearances in the national tournament. In order for the Pioneers to be successful, they must not only defend well against the Red Storm, but they must look to Captain and KIAC Player of the Year, Jonty Loukes, to dictate play. His seven goals and 11 assists on the year are solid, but his ability to defend and quickly counter and distribute on Rio will be what they need to have a shot.
captured the Crossroads League title and earned the right to represent their conference for the first time in program history in a very well-balanced Midwest league. The Wildcats look to their #10 player, Geoff Bowman, to get it done for them. He is a strong finisher and knows how to distribute well. As a result, he makes all the right decisions on the field; he is very technical, has a soccer savvy mind and just finds ways to score goals. IWU won’t be the most talented in the field of 32 and 16, but they will work harder than most. PS: They did beat defending national champions, Belhaven, at home early in the season.
is making their 5th appearance into the National Tournament, but will this finally be the year that they make it to the Round of 16 for the 1st time, as they are 0-4 in the Opening Round matches. With a 13-4-2 overall record, KWU has literally won a few of their games as a result of their GK Blessing Ngwa. What a blessing he has been for them. Ngwa, in 12 matches as a starter, has given up 5 goals- yes, 5 total goals. A consistent player every single match, he keeps them in every match. He is dominant in the air, communicates very effectively and is an extremely good shot blocker. He is a player who is flat-out FUN to watch.
making their 21st national tournament appearance earned the #1 At-Large spot available for the national tournament with 9 national championships under their belt. A title was so close for them a year ago before being up-ended in the Semifinals by eventual Champion, Belhaven. This year, Wells and company have a ‘new look’ with several new players and a lot of veteran players graduating in 2012. The Blue Raiders placed 6 players on the Mid-South Conference team, but a player who needs to be effective for them is Winger Tom Moody. Moody has groomed into a big-time player for Lindsey Wilson, and his ability and pace can change a game. If he can get help from Davids and Pahkasalo- it’ll be an interesting tournament for them.
Embry Riddle (Ariz.)
won’t “WOW” on the score sheets per say, but they defend extremely well, by giving up 23 goals this season in 19 matches. With a 10-2-1 PSAC record, they claimed their 2nd straight conference title behind new first-year head coach Adam Pearce. The talented, gifted Mexican native, Isaac Sanchez, is on fire as of late, and leads the team with 10 goals and 1 assist. With several big non-conference matches played in 2013 (Concordia, Rocky Mountain, etc), the Eagles will hold their own in the early stages of the national stage.
Embry Riddle (FL)
Just squeaking into the National Tournament was the other Embry Riddle in Daytona, FL by virtue of the last and final #9 At-Large berth, even though they are no stranger to the big stage making their 9th tournament appearance. They are ranked #13 in the nation in the
final NAIA Coaches Poll, but #11 in the MRPI poll after finishing 13-3 on the year. Coach Dave Gregson always has a solid side, and a pair of Icelandic freshmen players in Magnusson and Elisson are tough to stop. Moreover, they are extremely tight defensively and four-time All Sun Conference 1st-teamer and Player of the Year in 2013, Ally MacDonald, will be the man to watch as he anchors the backline. Their
matchup against Georgia Gwinnett may be one of the most appealing first round matchups in the tournament.
The Ravens of Benedictine College have made their way into the national tournament for their 3rd time out of the last five seasons by the way of an At-Large bid. With an MRPI rating of #6 in the NAIA polls, they were sure to pick up a spot regardless of their outcome in
the underrated HAAC. Benedictine looks to a Four-Year Starter in Joe Sbarro to do a lot of their ‘heavy lifting’ offensively. While he loaded the back of the net in 2012 with 19 goals, he has tamed off a bit as a Senior with only 9 goals, 4 assists in 2013. The Ravens may get goals from Sbarro, but it starts through Jade Mesias. He plays in central midfield. Probably the most technically gifted player on the team, he has the ability to hit the perfect ball in any situation. Jade also does the hard work on the defensive side. He works extremely hard to win the ball back as early as possible. Jade leads by example and has played a major part in the success over the last three years for Benedictine. He is a senior from Auckland City, New Zealand by way of Kansas City Kansas Community College.
For the last five years, Tourbeau Sports Group has been a go-to source for all things NAIA Men’s Soccer. From holding the annual Pro Soccer Combine designed for NAIA Men’s Soccer Players, to producing the National Championship broadcasts, to this year providing the Tourbeau National Game of the Week Webcasts on NSCAA TV.com – we take pride in the quality and level of the players, coaches and programs in the NAIA. We highlighted 13 out of 32 participants in this year’s national tournament during the season in the Game of the Week Specials, among other Top 25 programs who didn’t qualify. But once again, we also want to preview and spotlight our Official “Player Watch List” for this year’s 2013 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship.
Lucas Almeida- Ashford
Sebastian Wladyko - AUM
Matt Bickley- Baker
Eduardo Cruz- Belhaven
Manuel Lira- Bellevue
Joe Sbarro- Benedictine
Jade Mesias- Benedictine
Daniel Branley- Bryan
Oliver Bell- Cardinal Stritch
Adrian Padilla- Concordia
Kemar Prince- Corban
Dzenan Catic- Davenport
Isaac Sanchez- ERAU Arizona
Ally MacDonald- ERAU Florida
Rene Enang- Georgia Gwinnett
Jonny Mcadam- Grand View
Thomas Boss- Hastings
Geoff Bowman- Indiana Wesleyan
Blessing Ngwa- Kansas Wesleyan
Tom Moody- Lindsey Wilson
Yazeed Davids- Lindsey Wilson
Sean Dong- Martin Methodist
Aurelien Norest- MidAmerica Nazarene
Sam Blackman- Midland
Miguel Jimenez- Missouri Valley
Nicholas Alexander- Missouri Valley
Lucas Almeida – Oklahoma Wesleyan
John Nardozzi- Olivet Nazarene
Michael Da Silva- Olivet Nazarene
Carlos Trombini Filho- Park
Jonty Loukes- Point Park
William Pauliono- Rio Grande
Maxi Viera- Rio Grande
Luiz Filho- Rio Grande
Oliver Gore- Rocky Mountain
Liam Madden- USAO
Paulo Sacramento- St Thomas (TX)
Rowan Liburd- Thomas (GA)
Jarrod Ingram- Thomas (GA)
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