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Men's Sectional Previews: Midwest

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North Park (Chicago, IL)

Sectional Webpage

Saturday/Sunday, Nov. 18-19

Third Round - Saturday

Washington & Lee (15-4-2) at North Park (18-1-1), 11;00 am CT

Otterbein (19-2-0) vs. St. Thomas (21-1-0), 1:30 pm CT

Quarterfinals - Sunday

Sectional Final, 1:00 am CT

How they reached the Sweet 16

   Berth 1st Round 2nd Round
North Park CCCIW AQ Bye W6-1 UW-Platteville (H)
Washington & Lee Pool C At-Large W2-0 Mary Washington (H) T3-3 Oglethorpe (H)
St. Thomas MIAC AQ W4-3 UW-Superior (H) W1-0 Loras (H)
Otterbein OAC AQ W2-0 Medaille (H) W3-2 Kenyon (H)

2017 Statistical Overview

   Record (Pct.) GSA : GAA (Diff.) Avg. OWP SoS vs. Top 25 Last Ten
North Park 18-1-1 (.925) 3.01 : 0.64 (+2.37) .580 .579 1-0-0 9-0-1
Washington & Lee 15-4-2 (.762) 2.37 : 0.84 (+1.53) .625 .596 1-2-1 8-1-1
St. Thomas 21-1-0 (.955) 2.37 : 0.63 (+1.74) .593 .580 0-0-0 10-0-0
Otterbein 19-2-0 (.905) 2.61 : 0.71 (+1.90) .588 .585 2-1-0 10-0-0

North Park Season Review

No program in the country has a higher “cultural mascot to roster correlation” than does North Park as the 2017 Vikings are once again loaded with young Swedish and Norwegian talent: in their NCAA tournament second round match, NPU started just three U.S. born players. five sophomores. It’s a group that has put together a remarkable season. With an 18-1-1 record including a true signature win over Chicago, NPU claimed the right to not only host, but also a first round bye—and this team isn’t just resume, they pass the eye test too.

After a 10-7-1 2016 season, the Vikings were picked to finish 3rd in the CCIW in preseason coaches’ polling. They dropped an opening week contest at home against Whitworth, but haven’t looked back since. Only a conference regular season draw with 2016 CCIW Champions Carthage otherwise blemishes the Vikings record, and NPU stomped the Red Men in the rubber match, a 4-0 conference tournament final victory.

After enjoying the benefit of their opening round free pass, North Park scored in the first minute on Sunday and went on to dismantle UW-Platteville 6-1 in the second round to book their first ever trip to the Sweet 16.

Washington & Lee Season Review

Washington & Lee are in the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year, and in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2000. The Generals were granted an at-large berth from Pool C after losing to Lynchburg in the ODAC final. At 15-4-2 they have the lowest win-loss percentage and the lowest average margin of victory among the Midwest Sectional teams, but a high strength of schedule, and quality non-conference wins over Christopher Newport, Emory, and Capital were both enough to impress the selection committee and point to the fact that the Generals unquestionably belong on this stage.

Washington & Lee have done their goal scoring by committee in 2017 and that ran true to form in the NCAA opening rounds. Five different players notched the five goals recorded in their 2-0 win over Mary Washington and their 3-3 draw with Oglethorpe. The Generals advanced in a shootout to survive the challenge from Oglethorpe in a very statistically even affair, despite conceding two PK’s in regulation.

Senior Goalkeeper Gillen Beck was the hero of that shootout, making two saves and converting a penalty of his own to help propel his team into the next round.

St. Thomas Season Review

Reunited and it feels so good! A year ago St. Thomas made a major breakthrough, recording the program’s first ever Final Four run before being bounced in the semifinals by eventual national champion Tufts. A team that hung their hat on their defending, the 2016 Tommies graduated three-quartes of their starting back line, yet the current side have managed a similar goals against average to date. But this year St Thomas has looked more dominant with the major upgrade coming at the other end of the pitch where St Thomas are converting nearly a goal a game more than a year ago.

The story behind that increase in production? That’s perhaps the biggest Oliver twist since Dickens, with off season transfer Justin Oliver joining his twin brother Tyler in St. Paul for their senior campaign. Both the Olivers started their collegiate careers at Eastern Illinois, with Tyler donning the purple and gray a year earlier. Back together, the pair have thrived this season with a combined 23 goals and 13 assists, including 9 assists of the “family” variety.

That efficiency has St Thomas chugging along as one of the hottest teams in the country, winners of 18 straight. If there is any knock against the Tommies, it’s that they are the only team still playing without a result against a top 25 program. They largely cruised through their MIAC schedule on their way to grabbing the AQ. In the opening NCAA rounds, they survived a wild 7 goal contest against UW-Superior, and then joined Chicago as only the second team this season to shut out Loras.

Otterbein Season Review

In the past 10 years, Otterbein went a combined 68-92-19, and enjoyed just two seasons (barely) above .500. They hadn’t advanced to their conference tournament since 2003. So when the OAC season began in late September, it wasn’t by accident that they simply weren’t on anyone’s radar. There were several teams from the conference garnering national attention—Otterbein just wasn’t one of them. Picked by OAC coaches to finish 5th in the preseason poll, the Cardinals were justifying the prediction with the kind of up and down start one might expect from a team being led by a 30-year-old first year head coach. Coming off an 8-7-3 campaign in 2016, Otterbein stumbled out of the gate and suffered two early season blemishes: a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Kenyon where they were outshot 25-7, and a laugher at Hiram (5-12-0) where Otterbein allowed the Terriers to convert both of their only shots on goal in the contest.

Hit the fast forward button however, and you find a team riding the third longest winning streak in the country, having rattled off 17 straight (behind St. Thomas and Drew with 18 straight) including a perfect run through a very strong 2017 OAC slate. You find a team that just avenged its week 1 loss to Kenyon to advance into this sectional. You find a team that held a compelling 3-1-0 record against 2017 NCAA tournament participants before things kicked off last weekend. You find a team that has already made its deepest run since the 2002 version (sporting a world record long throw-in) lost in the national final.

In the big games during their streak, Otterbein has been ruthlessly efficient with their chances. In the second round, Otterbein converted 3 of 4 first half shots to take a 3-0 lead over Kenyon, and then held on for dear life the rest of the way. But that dramatic win and ability to absorb pressure has become a calling card rather than an anomaly, and the Cardinals often seem content to sit deep and concede some possession before punishing their opponents on the counter. The Cardinals were outshot and won seven times during their current winning streak.

Head Coaches

North Park

John Born, 19th year (1999-2017), 213-101-35 (.660)
NCAA's (7 of 19 yrs.): 7-2-6 (.667) | 1st Sweet 16 | --

Washington & Lee

Mike Singleton, 4th year (2014-2017), 57-18-8 (.735)
NCAA's (3 of 4 yrs.): 3-2-3 (.563) | 1st Sweet 16 | --

St. Thomas

John Lowery, 6th year (2012-2017), 83-27-13 (.728)
NCAA's (2 of 6 yrs.): 6-1-0 (.857) | 2nd Sweet 16 | --


Jason Giffiths, 1st year (2017-), 19-2-0 (.905)
NCAA's (1 of 1 yr.): 2-0-0 (1.000) | 1st Sweet 16 | --

Seniors' 4-year Record (through Nov. 15)

   Overall (Pct.) NCAA Appearances Record Advancement
North Park 53-18-5 (.730) '14     '17 1-1-0 Sweet 16: '17
Washington & Lee 57-18-8 (.735)   '15 '16 '17 2-2-2 Sweet 16: '17
St. Thomas 62-18-6 (.756)     '16 '17 6-1-0 Sweet 16: '17; Final Four: '16
Otterbein 45-25-6 (.632)       '17 2-0-0 Sweet 16: '17

Players to Watch

North Park: #17 M Matias Warp (Sr.) – 7g, 2a (CCIW POY) | #10 F Carel Kawele (Jr.) – 15g, 6a, 8GWG | #22 D Ricky Pimentel (Jr.) | #30 M Peder Olsen (Fr.) – 10g, 9a | #40 M Gustav Ericsson (Fr.) – 5g, 10a, 3GWG

Washington & Lee: #25 M Will Hamryka (Jr.) – 6g, 2a | #28 D Oliver Dolberg (So.) – 5g | #8 M Andrew Kim (Sr.) – 4g, 5a 3GWG | #29 F Harry Pinkerton (Fr.) – 4g, 3a

St. Thomas: #19 M Shae Bottoom (Sr.) – 8g, 14a, 7GWG (MIAC POY) | #22 M Alex Schnobrich (Sr.) – 1g, 2a | #11 F Justin Oliver (Sr.) – 16g, 4a, 6GWG | #9 F Tyler Oliver (Sr.) – 7g, 9a | #2 D Kevin Van Lieshout (Sr.) – 5g, 1a

Otterbein: #8 D Jaden Lunger (Sr.) – 3g, 3a (OAC DefOY) | #4 D Zach Lewis (Jr.) – 4g, 3a, 3GWG | #10 M Erick Juarez-Manning (Jr.) – 4g, 11a, 3GWG | #13 M Tiger Pham (So.) – 2g, 2a | #9 M Pau Piang (So.) – 4g, 11a

Why they will advance to the Final Four

North Park: The Vikings continue to take full advantage of their dream draw in the bracket. The most prolific offense in the sectional comes at Washington & Lee in bunches and proves a bit too much for the Generals to handle. Rest, and the boon of being the host site come into play on Sunday, and NPU advances over the Otterbein/St Thomas winner with a late goal from Carel Kawele Kuzona.

Washington & Lee: Many will be penciling in an NPU vs. St. Thomas Elite 8 matchup for Sunday, and that’s probably the way the Generals would prefer it. Already on the deepest run in program history, Coach Singleton will be playing the nothing to lose card. Yet Washington & Lee boast the highest strength of schedule in the Sectional, and the most games in hand against top 25 competition. Surprise Sweet 16 team? Perhaps, but the Generals are nobody’s tomato can. PK’s on Saturday followed by a scrappy 1-goal win Sunday punch the ticket.

St. Thomas: St. Thomas will feel they left something on the table in 2016, and they are the only team in the sectional with Final Four experience in their current roster. Otterbein’s tendency to fight with their back against the ropes finally shows some cracks, and the Tommies keep the Cardinal counterattack in check for a 2-0 result. Regardless of the Sunday matchup, 2016 3rd team All-American Shae Bottum pulls the strings in the midfield, recording 2 assists to give St. Thomas another crack at the Final Four.

Otterbein: Little was expected of this group, but the Cardinals have demonstrated that they aren’t afraid of anybody and it’s a locker room that believes they are going to win right now. If we only examine the 2017 season, Otterbein are arguably the most tested team in the sectional, and that big game experience pays dividends. The recipe is there and while they eat some pressure against the Tommies, their tall and organized back line keeps them in it and they convert from a second half corner kick to advance. A team that keeps finding a way does it again on Sunday, and sneaks past the hosts to book their trip to Greensboro.


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