The AAC finished up the end of their regular season and are gearing up for conference playoffs. Over the course of the NAIA regular season, it has been pretty clear that the AAC is overall the best conference and will likely have the most teams in the NAIA playoffs, but figuring who those teams are is going to be up for major debate. The KCAC and WHAC are starting to play themselves into shape as well. Let’s take a look at the games that had the biggest impact on the NAIA this past weekend.
NAIA Week Recap: Written by Josh Howell
#4 Keiser (13) – #7 Webber (12)
Keiser might be the most up and down team in the NAIA this season. After an early season upset over Reinhardt, the Seahawks have gone 3-3 (minus a forfeit from Montreat). They needed one of their better performances when they squared off at #7 Webber. Cole Stassi would score the first and last goal of the first quarter to give the Seahawks a 4-3 lead. Early in the second, Alex Kew would score back to back goals to give the Warriors a quick lead, but the teams would battle to a tie heading into the half.
The second half would be a game of runs. A quick Webber goal was matched with a 4-0 Kaiser run that extended into the early fourth quarter. That was then matched with a 3-0 run that was capped by Chase Jackson adding 1 of his 2 goals on the day. From there the teams would exchange goal after goal until Vincent Cerasuolo would dump in the game-winner. Luckily for Webber, these teams will turn around and face each other again in the AAC tournament and they’ll have a chance to exact some revenge.
#3 Cumberlands (19) – #8 Benedictine (9)
Benedictine had a chance to play themselves into the NAIA playoffs with a strong showing against the #3 ranked Patriots. However, the hope of an upset was over just as soon as it began. Dylan Crouch started his high-scoring day with the opening goal just over two minutes into the game. The Patriots would use that as a start of a 5-0 first quarter. Sean Molyneux would finally get Benedictine on the board in the second quarter to make it a 6-1 game. The Ravens would add two more to make it a three goal game late in the second, but that would be the closest they would come the rest of the game.
Thanks to a last second goal from Dom Lulow with 1 second on the clock, the Patriot lead would grow back to 6. Molyneux added another goal shortly into the third quarter but Cumberlands would once again catch fire, eventually extending the lead to 15-4 before the Ravens would add another. Crouch and his partner in crime, Thomas Fogarty, would combine for 9 goals and 5 assists in the game.
Siena Heights (8) – #2 Indiana Tech (10)
These two teams came into this game undefeated in WHAC play and only one would remain undefeated. The Saints came out firing and a well balanced attack would have them leading 4-1 at the end of the first. At 10:08 in the second quarter, Jake Gallaher would score his second goal of the contest to extend the lead to 6-1 and the upset loomed.
Samuel Bodley then stopped the Saints run and got the Warriors going. Andrew Ryan would add 2 goals before the end of the half to cut the Saints lead down to 3. In the second half, the Tech defense woke up and would allow only 2 more goals to close out the game. A 5-1 third quarter would see the Warriors taking the lead heading into the fourth. Gallaher would add a man-up goal with 7:22 in the fourth to make it a one goal game. Unfortunately for the Saints, they couldn’t find another solid scoring opportunity. Bodley would add a man up goal to push the lead to 2 and that’s how the game would end.
Madonna (11) – #10 LTU (10)
This was one of the most exciting matchups in the NAIA this year and arguably the best comeback of the year. Throughout the first half, the two teams were battling back and forth. The Blue Devils would push the lead up to 3 to end the first half. Madonna showed some resilience in the third quarter and came out of the locker room firing. Four different Crusaders would score to bring the game back tied at 8 heading into the fourth. In the fourth, the teams exchanged a couple goals until Brady Clark put LTU up 1 with just over 4 minutes left in the game. It appeared that the game would end that way until Nick Bryden beat the buzzer with just four seconds left in the game to tie it! In overtime, Casey Lyons would take advantage of an unsettled situation to score the game-winner and complete the comeback for Madonna.
NAIA Weekend Preview: Written by Jon Vance
We are officially nearing the end of the season. For two of our conferences, the AAC and the KCAC, the regular season has already ended. Thus bringing us the excitement of two conference tournaments! Here are the games you will want to pay attention to are our quarterfinal matchups.
#4 William Penn – #5 Columbia
We just saw this game on Tuesday, and it opened some eyes. Heading into the game, many felt like it would be a close game, with maybe a slight edge for Columbia being the home team. William Penn clearly had other ideas, pulling away 16-5. CC will have to make quick adjustments ahead of the rematch, but they have plenty of talent and an excellent coaching staff ready to implement these changes. I would expect most changes to come on the defense. Winner will advance to the semifinals vs #1 St. Ambrose.
#3 Ottawa – #6 Midland
Ottawa and Midland are two of the biggest surprise teams coming out of the KCAC this season. If you look at the pre-season KCAC voting, you may be surprised to see that OU was voted 5th, and Midland 7th. Both have far exceeded these expectations. Midland lost this regular season matchup 12-7 in an early season road game. Two key stats were that Midland went 0-7 on the man up, and got outshot 55-34. If they can limit the clean looks for Ottawa, and convert on the E.M.O opportunities, then this should be a much closer game this go round. The winner of this game takes on the #2 seed Benedictine.
#3 Cumberlands – #6 St. Andrews
Cumberlands comes into this game after arguably their best win of the season, a 19-9 victory over Benedictine. In the past 3 games the Patriots have scored a combined 57 goals! The offense is definitely clicking at the perfect time for a deep postseason run. St. Andrews is a team that has had a bit of a disappointing year, largely in part to injuries.
If SAU is able to get healthy before this game, particularly at the midfield, then this game could be much different than what the seeds would have you think. If SAU is able to knock off UC, expect it to be Wesley Ilg and Aldrich Cheng doing the damage. The winner will face #2 Tennessee Wesleyan.
#4 Keiser – #5 Webber
This was one of the best regular season games of the season, so I can’t wait to see how this one turns out. Stakes are at an all time high in this one. I view this as a winner takes all scenario, where the winner makes the National tournament, and the loser likely ends up as the first team out. The regular season game ended with Keiser winning 13-12. Webber came up inches short after missing wide on a shot in the waning seconds. Hopefully this game is just as thrilling as the first time. The winner of this one heads to Waleska to take on #1 Reinhardt.