The excitement on campus continues to build as North Park’s men’s soccer team leaves Wednesday for their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Final Four in Greensboro, North Carolina.
“What an amazing time for North Park,” said President Carl Balsam, who plans to make the trip to cheer on the team in person. “This Viking men’s soccer team has surpassed every milestone for their program, and they aren’t done yet.”
The 20-1-1 Vikings will face off against regional rivals University of Chicago on Friday at 6:30 p.m. NPU defeated the Maroons 1-0 in their one regular season match-up. The winner of that game goes on to face either Messiah College or Brandeis University in the National Championship game Saturday.
“The team has been training hard in practice and has had an amazing focus about them,” Head Coach John Born said. “They are an extremely close-knit and competitive group.”
While Born and the team respect the talent and experience of the other three squads in the tournament, the Vikings have a clear goal.
“We aren’t just pleased to be there, we intend to make our own history this weekend,” Born said.
Athletic Director Jack Surridge, who is also making the trip, says “this is a significant weekend in the history of North Park Athletics and another chapter in a series of achievements in men’s soccer.”
NPU is providing a fan bus for students who’d like to cheer in person for the team, which boasts a diverse, international roster, with players from as far as Sweden, Norway, Germany, and England, and as close as Chicago, Michigan, and Minnesota. One player hails from neighboring Von Stuben Metro Science High School.
“We appreciate the fine way in which this team represents our university and we wish them every success as they pursue a national championship,” Balsam said.
Born said he and the team have been overwhelmed by the support of the North Park community.
“We are extremely humbled and grateful,” Born said. “We will do our best to make you all proud.”