Whitworth Men Ready for NCAA Tournament

(2011 Chrissy Roach)
(2011 Chrissy Roach)

SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth men's soccer team is headed back to the NCAA Division III tournament for the seventh time.  The Pirates (13-2-3) will open the tournament on Saturday against Mississippi College in a first round contest at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas at 5:00 pm (CST).

Whitworth earned its seventh Northwest Conference title in the last nine years, and eighth overall, under head coach Sean Bushey (17th year).  Mississippi College (12-5-2) won the American Southwest Conference crown for the first time.  Both Trinity (18-0-3) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (13-6-2), the teams in Saturday's other first round match up, have been long-time fixtures in the NCAA tournament.  Sunday's second round match will start at 6:00 pm (CST).

Watch the Whitworth men's soccer schedule for links to this weekend's match(s).

The Pirates:  Whitworth fell to Whitman 2-1 in overtime of the regular season finale for both schools last Saturday.  The Pirates rested their starters, only one of whom saw any action for three minutes of play.  Tyler Clarke scored the match-tying goal for Whitworth on a breakaway in the 77th minute from an assist by Kekoa Mountcastle.  It was Clarke's first goal of the season.  Whitworth and Whitman split the two matches this year, both of which went to overtime.

Been There Before:  2012 marks Whitworth's seventh NWC men's soccer title over the last nine years and eighth overall under head coach Sean Bushey.  Whitworth has won a total of 11 conference championships in men's soccer dating back to 1989, with three of those coming under former coach Einar Thorarinsson. 

Whitworth is making its seventh appearance in the NCAA Division III men's soccer tournament.

-          In 2001 the Pirates defeated Colorado College (1-0) and tied Macalester College (advanced 4-2 on penalty kicks) before falling to eventual finalist Univ. of Redlands (1-0 in overtime).

-          In 2004 Whitworth again defeated Colorado College (2-1) in the first round before losing at St. Norbert College (3-2) in the second round.

-          In 2005 Whitworth earned a first round bye, then defeated Redlands (4-0) in the second round, Wartburg (3-0) in the sectional semifinal and Trinity University (2-1, ot) in the sectional final to advance to the NCAA Division III final four. That run ended with a 2-1 loss to Gustavus Adolphus in the national semifinals.

-          In 2007 Whitworth knocked off Gustavus Adolphus 2-1 in the first round before losing 2-0 at Wis.-Oshkosh in the second round.

-          In 2008 Whitworth hosted Augsburg (Minn.) in the first round and tied the Auggies 1-1 before Augsburg advanced on penalty kicks (4-2).

-          In 2009 Whitworth defeated Chapman 2-0 and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 2-1 in first and second-round matches played at UC Santa Cruz.  The Pirates topped Hardin-Simmons 1-0 in the Second Semifinals before falling to Dominican (Ill.) in the Sectional Final (round of eight).

Defensively Dominant: Whitworth continues to rank highly among Division III schools in defensive statistics.  The Pirates are second in shutout percentage (.720) in Division III and seventh in team goals-against average (0.47).  Whitworth led the NWC in both categories by a wide margin.

Goalkeeper Kyle Novak currently ranks fourth in NCAA Division III men's statistics with a 0.29 goals-against average and 14th in save percentage (.872).

Whitworth's defensive numbers have a chance to shatter the previous single-season records set in 2001 when the Pirates led all of NCAA Division III with a 0.59 team goals-against average for the season.

Balance:  The Whitworth offense has been balanced all season.  Eleven different players have accounted for the Pirates' 28 goals.  Robby Ubben leads with seven goals, while Samuel Engle and Andrew French have four each.  Whitworth has scored 11 goals in the first half and 17 goals in the second half and overtime periods.

Similarly, three different players have three assists each.

You-Been-Beat: To say that Robby Ubben's goals have been timely is to say that soccer is a popular sport played all around the world.  Ubben leads the Pirates in scoring this season with seven goals.  But most important, five of his goals have been match-winners.  His winner on October 6th came in the second overtime against Whitman.  His winner against PLU came with less than seven minutes to play in regulation.  He has also posted match-winners in one-goal wins against Corban and George Fox.  He also scored the first goal in an eventual 3-1 win over Pacific and the first goal in Whitworth's overtime loss at Willamette.

Nationally-ranked: Whitworth is tied for 13th in this week's NSCAA Division III national rankings.  The Bucs moved down to 20th in the D3soccer.com top-25 poll.

Trinity is ranked 3rd in the NSCAA poll and 4th in the D3soccer.com rating.  Mississippi College is 24th in the NSCAA raking and listed with "others receiving votes" by D3soccer.com.

Blazing Reunion:  Whitworth head coach Sean Bushéy and Mississippi College coach Kevin Johns were teammates together at Bellhaven College (Miss.).  Johns was a freshman when Bushey was a senior. Bushéy had already graduated when Johns helped lead the Blazers to the 1992 NAIA championship.

"He's a good man who has always been passionate about soccer and I am certain his team will play as such," Bushéy said.  "There is always more that comes out of your collegiate athletic experience than just playing a game.  This match up will highlight that - two teammates/friends coming together from thousands of miles away to cross paths and play this great game!"

The Opponents:  Mississippi College (12-5-2) won its first-ever American Southwest Conference regular season title and then took the conference tournament in dramatic fashion.  The Choctaws tied Hardin-Simmons 2-2 in the semifinal before advancing on penalty kicks 4-3.  Then MC drew 1-1 with Texas-Dallas before advancing on PKs one more time (5-4) in the conference final.  This will be the Choctaw's first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III tournament.

MC has averaged 2.7 goals per game with a 1.42 team goals-against average this season.  The Choctaws have a very balanced scoring attack with five different players who have posted at least six goals this season.  Senior forward Julio Cesar Espinal has eight goals and two assists, while freshman forward Omar Acosta has seven goals and six assists.

Whitworth and Mississippi College have never met in men's soccer.  The Pirates' last game against an opponent from the ASC was in the 2009 NCAA Tournament.  Whitworth defeated Hardin-Simmons 1-0 in a third-round match.

Possible Second Round Match: Trinity University (host) and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps will meet in Saturday's other first round game (7:30 pm CST). 

Trinity comes into the tournament 18-0-3 overall after rolling through the Southern Collegiate Athletics Conference tournament.  The Tigers defeated Austin College 1-0 in the semifinals and topped Southwestern University 2-0 in the championship match to advance to their 16th NCAA Division III tournament appearance.  Trinity has a strong history in the NCAA championship, winning it all in 2003 and reaching the final in 2007.  The Tigers have averaged three goals per match and have a team goals-against average of 0.50.  The team has a strong Brazilian flair.  Senior forward Yuri Ribeiro has 14 goals and 10 assists, while freshman Victor Araujo has five goals and seven assists.  Both are from Brazil.  Whitworth and Trinity have met once in the NCAA tournament with the Pirates pulling out a 2-1 overtime win over the Tigers in 2005 during the quarterfinals in Spokane.

CMS finished third in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletics Conference during the regular season but came through as tournament champions, with a 2-0 win over Whittier in the title match, to earn the league's automatic berth to the NCAA playoffs.  It will be the Stags' third appearance in a row and 16th overall.  CMS has a pair of veteran, dangerous forwards.  Senior forward David Taylor has 13 goals and nine assists, while senior forward Harrison Doyle has 11 goals and five assists.  Whitworth and CMS met in the second round of the 2009 NCAA tournament at Santa Cruz, California where the Pirates came away with a 2-1 win over the Stags. 

The Coach: Sean Bushéy is in his 17th season as head coach of the Pirates in 2012. He has a 219-91-36 record in his 18th season as a head men's soccer coach (209-85-36 at Whitworth) and has led the Pirates to seven Northwest Conference titles in the last nine years, and eight NWC titles overall.   He has been named Northwest Conference Men's Coach of the Year four times (2001, 2004, 2007, 2008). Over the last 12+ years, the Whitworth men are 187-57-29 (.741).