North Park’s men’s soccer squad advanced to the third round of the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time in team history after cruising to a 6-1 victory against the Wis.-Platteville Pioneers Sunday.
Led by CCIW Coach of the Year John Born, the Vikings dominated the Pioneers, with goals by Gustav Ericsson, Carel Kuzona, Erlend Kemkers and Ricky Pimentel. Those players join Jason Gonzalez, Peder Nalum Olsen, and Matias Warp in being named Monday as All-Conference Players, with Warp being named Player of the Year and Olsen Newcomer of the Year.
Born called Sunday’s victory a huge relief. “Getting our first NCAA victory under our belt sure felt good,” Born said. “We were excited and thankful to be able to play in front of a great home crowd.”
Scoring in the opening minute of the game, the Vikings swiftly put to rest any concerns they might be rusty after a bye round.
“When we scored 40 seconds into the game, there was no doubt in my mind that we were ready to play at a high level,” said Athletic Director Jack Surridge.
The NCAA National committee also announced the Vikings will also host their matchup against Virginia’s Washington & Lee University at noon Saturday, as well as the other regional semifinal, Minnesota’s St. Thomas v. Otterbein University of Westerville, Ohio, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
Previously, the farthest the Vikings had advanced in the NCAA tournament was to the second round, in 2010, 2011, and 2012. With their latest victory, the Vikings have now won 18 games in a row.
Going forward, Surridge believes the team is in a great position to go all the way.
“We are a formidable opponent when we play at this high level,” Surridge said.