The Olivet Nazarene University men’s soccer team has accomplished a rare feat: going undefeated in conference. The Tigers have now set its sights on the national title.
“Going into the season, our goal was to win conference and conference tournament,” senior captain Ryan Totsch said. “We knew we had a great team early in the season and, if we stayed focused on these goals, we had the confidence that we could achieve our goals.”
The Tigers headed into conference with two wins, three loses, and one tie. The competition faced in non-conference matches helped the team as they headed into conference play.
The first game the Tigers played in conference was a tough battle played against Purdue University Northwest, which went into a double resulting in a tie. The Tigers were not going to give up on their goal of becoming conference champions. They used that fire to go undefeated for the rest of the season.
“I’m very happy and pleased with going undefeated in conference,” sophomore Marcus Wollak said. “It’s a great accomplishment, and something I’ll remember. We try and treat every game as if it’s a National Tournament game so that we can hold ourselves to a high standard of play.”
The Tigers did not stop there as they continued their season into the playoffs. Because of their conference win, the team does not have to worry about being knocked out in the rounds leading up to the national tournament.
The team clinched its Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) tournament quarterfinal victory against Trinity International University (Il.) beating them with a score of 2-0. The Tigers advanced to the semifinals where they played St. Ambrose University (Iowa) finishing with a score of 2-0 in favor of the Tigers. This will be the third time in four years the Tigers will head to the CCAC championship match. That game will be played on Nov. 11 against Cardinal Stritch University (Wis.).
The Tigers are currently ranked No. 20 in the nation, but with their wins in the tournament, they are looking to up their ranking and move into the national tournament with a higher placement.
“As we head to playoffs, the biggest key is to stick to our plan,” Totsch said. “We have a style of play that is working for us and, going forward, we are going to continue with what is working. Then, going forward, the team understands that each game is an elimination game so we are taking each game one at a time and not getting ahead of ourselves.”
According to Totsh and Wollack, the Tigers are ready for the national tournament and are prepared to fight any battle in order to bring a national trophy back to Olivet. The team is a brotherhood, and all members are happy to be a part of this history in the making.
“The team is doing something that has never been done before in Olivet history. It is an amazing feeling to be a part of that, we’ve really come together this year,” junior Paul Miller said.
— Sarah Ortman, Staff Writer