NAIA National Tournament Preview: WCU v WVU Tech
William Carey University v West Virginia University Tech
Early on Monday afternoon, the NAIA announced the teams and the opening round of matches to take place this Saturday, November 18th. William Carey University, who fell at the final hurdle to secure an automatic berth, were granted with an at-large bid, due to their 17-1 season, and #1 NAIA ranking. This meant the Crusaders were to host a game and their opponent would be the West Virginia University Tech.
Opposition Watch: WVU have had a mixed season of results, starting of the year with a record of 0-5-1. Notable defeats to Spring Arbor, Bryan College and Cumberland University. Notching their first win of the season on September 20th, winning 3-0 away to Mount Vernon Nazarene University. A strong showing followed as they narrowly lost to then #8 Georgia Gwinnett College 2-1 in double overtime. A draw and three wins came in their next four games, before being brought back down to earth with a humbling 4-0 defeat at the hands of NAIA #5 University of Rio Grande. Two wins, two defeats and a final win would qualify WVU for their conference tournament at the #4 seed.
Hosting #5 Point Park University (PA.) in the River States Conference Tournament, WVU knew it was “win and advance, lose and go home” time. Rising to the occasion the Golden Bears blew the Pioneers out of the water winning 3-1 in comfortable fashion. This set up a titanic-size clash with the number one seed in the tournament and NAIA powerhouse the University of Rio Grande, who had beaten the Golden Bears 4-0 earlier in the season. WVU defended magnificently earning a 1-1 tie, and later advancing to the championship game winning 8-7 on penalties.
The #2 seed Midway University (KY.) would await WVU in the final, and again it would take penalties to secure the Golden Bears a tournament championship and automatic NAIA National Tournament berth. The game finished 0-0 with WVU taking the pens 3-2. WVU finished the season with a record of (8-9-4), not the most intimidating record, but a closer look shows they played a tough schedule, and are very hard to breakdown. Losing 5 of the 9 games by a single goal, shows they are no pushovers. WCU will need to be on top of their game if they are to come away from this one with a win.
#11 Francisco Neto LW
13 Goals 3 Assists
Ranks #34 in NAIA in Total Game Winning Goals: 4
#40 in NAIA in Total Goals: 13
#19 Eduardo Gutierrez FW
2 Goals 7 Assists
#31 Jose Domingo Xam-Mar
Ranks #42 in NAIA in Goals Against per game (1.08)
1,000+ Minutes in goal for WVU this season
WCU come into the game off the back of a humbling 5-1 Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament Championship Final defeat to the University of Mobile. The Crusaders will be keen to get back out there and prove it was a one-off. Tasting defeat for the first time this season, all eyes will be on Hattiesburg, MS to see if the Crusaders can shake off the SSAC tournament heartache, by finding the form that lead them to SEVENTEEN (17) straight wins in the regular season.
Kick-off is set for 17:30 local time on Saturday November 18th. Stay tuned to SSU’s Twitter: @SSUSAOfficial for live updates of the game.