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November 17, 2011

Men's Sectional Previews: Transcontinental

Other Sectional Previews:  ATLANTIC | NORTH CENTRAL  | NORTHEAST

By Christan Shirk

TRANSCONTINENTAL SECTIONAL

at Redlands (Redlands, CA)

Sectional Webpage

Friday/Saturday, Nov. 18-19

Third Round - Friday, Nov. 18

Randolph (18-5-0) vs. Texas-Tyler (17-2-2), 5:00 pm PT

Calvin (17-5-1) at Redlands (20-3-1), 7:30 pm PT

Quarterfinals - Saturday, Nov. 19

Sectional Final, 5:00 pm PT

How they reached the Sweet 16

Randolph: ODAC Automatic Berth (AQ) | 1st Rnd: W2-1 Chris. Newport | 2nd Rnd: W3-2 DeSales

Texas-Tyler: ASC Automatic Berth (AQ) | 1st Rnd: W3-0 Oglethorpe | 2nd Rnd: W2-0 Trinity (Tx.)

Calvin: Pool C at-large berth | 1st Rnd: W1-0 Cartage | 2nd Rnd: W4-0 Loras

Redlands: Pool C at-large berth | 1st Rnd: W4-1 Pacific Lutheran | 2nd Rnd: W3-0 Claremont-M-S

2011 Statistical Overview

Randolph: 18-5-0 (.783) | 2.33 GSA, 0.92 GAA (+1.41) | Avg. OWP: .486 | Last Ten: 9-1-0

Texas-Tyler: 17-2-2 (.857) | 2.47 GSA, 0.68 GAA (+1.79) | Avg. OWP: .519 | Last Ten: 8-0-2

Calvin: 17-5-1 (.761) | 2.14 GSA, 0.69 GAA (+1.46) | Avg. OWP: .543 | Last Ten: 8-2-0

Redlands: 20-3-1 (.854) | 3.50 GSA, 0.57 GAA (+2.93) | Avg. OWP: .487 | Last Ten: 9-0-1

Randolph Season Review

Five year’s ago Randolph was a women’s-only school named Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. The name change took place in the summer of 2007 in conjunction with the decision to begin admitting men for the 2007-08 academic year. A soccer program was immediately established with the team joining the ODAC starting with the 2008 season. The first men’s soccer coach, Bryan Waggoner, remains in the post and in five short years has built a winner. From a 2-9-1 record in their debut season, the team’s winning percentage has progressively climbed each season to the impressive 18-5-0 record they are currently sporting heading into sectionals. The Wildcats have made the eight-team ODAC playoffs each season in the conference, losing to Lynchburg in the quarterfinals as a 7th and 6th seed in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Their first winning season (10-8-1) came in 2009 and as the ODAC #4 seed they gained their first playoff win before again bowing out to Lynchburg. A 8-0 start to the current season turned some heads, but a weak non-conference schedule made it easy to dismiss, a view that seemed to be validated when Randolph dropped five of the next seven as they entered conference play. With leader Roanoke and Virginia Wesleyan up next, the Wildcats were in danger of missing the conference playoffs for the first time. But wins over those two and Guilford earned them the #4 seed for a second straight season and after two victories they met 6th-seed Lynchburg in the playoffs for the fourth time in four years, this time in the final with the championship and an automatic berth to the NCAA’s on the line. They finally beat Lynchburg to capture their first-ever ODAC championship and NCAA berth. As huge underdogs to No.2-ranked Christopher Newport, the regional pod host, they added to their list of first’s with an incredible 2-1 upset win, making the most of their few chances and holding on for dear life as Christopher Newport bombarded their goal. A wild opening five minutes in the second round left them up 2-1 on DeSales and an insurance goal later in the half served its purpose in the 3-2 win that sent them to Sweet 16. Though their non-conference schedule was soft and the ODAC had a down year, the two tournament wins have gone a long way to removing doubts that this team can hang with the big boys. What’s surprising and remarkable about the success of this young program is that it’s not happening because of an experienced, senior-laden squad as one would suspect, but rather with sophomores taking up eight spots in the starting line-up.

Texas-Tyler Season Review

Texas-Tyler was so close to having reached this stage last year, missing out when they lost their penalty shoot-out with Trinity (Tx.) after 110 scoreless minutes. They came back in 2011 and lost to Trinity (Tx.) in an early season non-conference contest for the fourth straight season before going on to capture their third ASC title in the last four years. They did so having lost five starters to graduation, but only one of which was a first- or second-team ASC last year. This year’s squad, with a good mix of the four classes, is led by their four seniors who all placed on the ASC first or second teams including two-time ASC Defensive Player of the Year Jake Urbaniak (8g, 5a) and playmaker Victor Almendariz (10g, 12a). Including the two tournament wins, Texas-Tyler is undefeated in their last 14, ten by shutout, but their fate was nearly thrown to the at-large selection committee when they couldn’t dispatch of Mary Hardin-Baylor in the conference semifinals, needing PK’s to advance. They left no doubt in the ASC final, whipping Hardin-Simmons 3-0. As geography would dictate, they met up with Trinity (Tx.) in the second round again (it’s happened on all three NCAA trips) after dealing with SCAC upstart and surprise, Oglethorpe, 3-0. And like last year, the defense improved on the early season encounter to shutout out the high-scoring Tigers. However, better than that, the offense found the net this year, not once, but twice, to gain their first-ever win over their in-state opponents. Team statistics are almost identical to last year (2.43 vs. 2.44 GSA, 0.67 vs. 0.61 GAA), although one large difference has been the percentage of goals scored in each half: last year scoring 56% in the first half, this year two-thirds coming in the second half.

Calvin Season Review

On the heels of an Elite 8 run last year and a runner-up finish in 2009, the expectations for Calvin were high coming into the 2011 campaign even if they had lost 5 starters to graduation. Their entire starting backline from the stretch run last year returned, lead by the heralded duo of seniors Justin Ahearne and Miles Colago. And the defense has posted similar, if slightly poorer, numbers again this season, the small drop off the result of conceding three goals in both early season losses to Rochester and Dominican. In attack, the Knights expected a pair of returning seniors to lead the way, but the fact that never materialized has been offset by the breakout season by sophomore Zach Willis (13g, 10a) and scoring by committee. In fact, the team scoring is up from the 1.79 clip in 2010 to 2.14 so far this campaign. The pair of 1-0 losses to Olivet at the end of the season were disappointing and the second, in the MIAA semifinals, cost them a shot at the MIAA’s automatic berth. However, their resume was good enough for a Pool C at-large selection, and any doubts about the potential of this team were soundly rebuked when they dumped the favored Loras Duhawks from the tournament on their home turf by a 4-0 count. Both tournaments runs in 2009 and 2010 exceeded reasonable expectations based on the regular season, and that is probably already true again with the win over Loras.

Redlands Season Review

Graduation cost Redlands their three-quarters of their midfield, but their two starting forwards were back for their final year and the entire back line returned, although a mid-season injury claimed an outside back. While the question marks hung over the new midfield, it was finishing that left the team down in two early-season losses to travelling Rutgers-Newark and in-state foe Chapman. Then a 4-1 loss to Trinity in the front-end of a Texas road trip left the Bulldogs with a losing record of 2-3-0. They haven’t lost since and goal scoring has rarely been a problem: in the last 19 games they have outscored opponents 74 to 7. Senior All-American Cody Carlson (13g, 4a) is in double-digits for a third season and fellow senior Jamie Griffin (7g, 10a) had been outstanding as well. That production was expected, however, and it’s the 15 goals from freshman Charles Izydorek that have pushed Redlands to a 3.50 GSA. The experienced back line has done its job as well with 13 shutouts in the unbeaten streak with only one case of conceding more than a single goal. However, when they had to play Claremont for a third time in the conference final, they couldn’t repeat their earlier 3-0 and 3-1 victories and fell in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw. A Pool C at-large berth awaited and an all-west coast regional pod fell into place which meant the chance for a fourth encounter with Claremont, which materialized after both won their first round matches. The 3-0 victory over their conference rivals combined with the prior 4-1 dismissal of Pacific Lutheran left no doubt who was the best west coast team in Division III, but given the softness of the SCIAC schedule, doubts remain about how good this Redlands squad is. The big loss to Trinity as well as the loss to an average Rutgers-Newark give credence to the doubts, but both results were very early in the season.

Seniors' 4-year Record (through Nov. 13)

Randolph: 41-34-5 (.544) overall | NCAA's ('11): 2-0-0

Texas-Tyler: 48-16-12 (.711) overall | NCAA's ('08-'10-'11): 4-1-1

Calvin: 66-18-10 (.755) overall | NCAA's ('08-'09-'10-'11): 6-3-4, Elite 8 - 2010, Runner-Up - 2009

Redlands: 59-18-9 (.738) overall | NCAA's ('08-'11): 2-1-0

Tournament Experience

Randolph is participating in their first-ever NCAA tournament, impressive actually given the progam is only in its fifth year of existence. Nevertheless, this is all new territory for their squad and coach. Texas-Tyler on the other hand has now qualified for the NCAA’s in three of the last four years and team captain Jake Urbaniak was a freshman starter during the 2008 tournament. For most of the squad, though, their tournament experience is limited to last year. Calvin’s squad has the most tournament experience with their runs to the Elite 8 and championship final in the past two seasons. Only Redland’s seniors would have been around for their last appearance in the tournament which was a one-and-out affair, and forward Carlson and defender Danny Day were the only ones to have taken part in that lone game.

Why they will advance to the Final Four

Randolph: Any team that can defeat Christopher Newport can handle the opponents in this sectional. They are riding a wave of emotion and can play with a nothing-to-lose attitude that can be so effective.

Texas-Tyler: They might have the two biggest difference-makers in the sectional in defender Jake Urbaniak and playmaker Victor Almendariz, both seniors. And between last year and this year they haven’t conceded a goal in 3 hours and 20 minutes of tournament action.

Calvin: Have the most tournament experience and have always gone further than their regular season suggested. The Loras win shows they can adapt their game and beat anybody.

Redlands: They have the best set of attackers in the sectional and an experienced backline, a good recipe for outscoring opponents, something they have done by a 2.93 average this year. Also, they get to play at home.

Other Sectional Previews:  ATLANTIC | NORTH CENTRAL  | NORTHEAST

Comments or feedback for the author?  Email Christan Shirk.

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