By Rebekah Winkel
The North Central men’s soccer team took the title of NCCAA Regional Champions in the 2018 season over the weekend of Nov. 1.
On Thursday, Nov. 1, the Rams competed against Moody Bible Institute. Freshman Midfielder Jeremiah Zilka, Senior Defender Danny Williams, and Sophomore Midfielder Austin Healy helped the team win day one by each scoring a goal.
On day two of the NCCAA regional tournament in Watertown, Wis., the Rams shut out Emmaus Bible College with a 2 to 0 win. Junior Midfielder Henry Puchuela was the first and only one to score in the first half. Freshman Jeremiah Zilka scored the second goal, leaving the Rams two for two out of three games.
On the final day, North Central competed against Providence-Manitoba at 3 p.m. on Nov. 3. The Rams tied the game against the Pilots but managed to take home the title.
This weekend’s victory will advance them to the NCCAA DII National Championship Tournament on Nov. 13 through Nov. 17 in Greenville, SC. Junior Defender Rodrigo de Mendoza is looking forward to the opportunity to go up against some of the best teams in the nation.
“A couple of years ago we came just one game short,” said de Mendoza, speaking of the season that the Rams were close to winning the NCCAA DII national title. “I think that this [year] is the time to do it for the first time for North Central.”
In the 2018 season, the men’s team did not qualify for a spot in the UMAC tournament; they went 9-7-3 in the UMAC with help from Head Coach Brian Li. Previous head coach George Carr resigned just before the season began due to family relocation. Assistant coach since 2017, Li stepped up as interim head coach for this season.
“It has been a great experience for me,” said Coach Li. “There are so many intricacies running a college soccer program both on and off the field, so there is never a dull moment.”
North Central women’s soccer team broke one team record and two individual records in the 2018 season. First year Head Coach Collette Montgomery started out with her first win of the season: a 10-0 win against Mount Mary University on Aug. 31. That same game, the North Central women’s record number of goals scored by an individual player was broken by Freshman Midfielder Payton Swoboda. Swoboda scored five out of the 10 goals that day.
Senior Midfielder Abby Schwinden quickly claimed the same North Central record by beating Swoboda’s number of goals by one.
“It was cool to have two players break the same record this year,” said Schwinden.
Schwinden scored six goals in the game against Crown College on Sept. 13. Two days later, North Central beat Minnesota Morris 2-1 for the first time in history. The Rams finished their season 5-12, keeping them out of the UMAC tournament.
The records continued to break with the North Central women’s volleyball team, as three players broke individual and team records during their last game in their last season. On Oct. 27, the Rams played on their home court against Mount Mary University. The Rams dominated by winning 3-0. The season ended for the volleyball team with a final record of 7-24, going 1-15 in the UMAC, which kept them from NCAA DIII and NCCAA DII tournament play.
Senior Setter and Captain Bekah Parker broke the Rams single match record with 36 assists in the last game against Mount Mary. Senior Laberbarrow Maddie Stocker ended with a career record of 1,000 digs. Head Coach Faith Ooms was happy for her players ending with a win and beaten records.
“It was fun to see our seniors punch it out at the very end and have one of their best games,” said Coach Ooms.
Finally, Junior Middle Blocker and Captain Emma Minddendorf went from a personal record of 128 kills in 2017 to 237 kills this season.
“Our team played so well and united that game, making it super fun,” said Middendorf. “Really, it was just a fun way to cap off my career.”