Men’s Soccer team wins NCCAA National Champions for the first and last time
By Rebekah Winkel
North Central Men’s Soccer flew back to Minnesota as the National Christian College Athletic Association Champions following a win in Greenville, SC. The team competed for the title against three of the best colleges in the division. On Nov. 11, North Central challenged the Kentucky Christian College Knights for the title.
In the first half, Junior Forward Riley Loukinen scored the first goal of the game, establishing a strong start. The Ram’s sustained their momentum for the rest of the first half, preventing the Knights from scoring. The Ram’s scoring was not much of a shock to Midfielder Rodrigo de Mendoza. “There wasn’t a doubt from the first moment we scored the first goal that we were going to win,” de Mendoza said.
In the second half, Senior Midfielder Kaleb Smith added another goal for North Central. The Ram’s maintained a defensive state as they kept the Knights from scoring. With three minutes left in the game, Sophomore Midfielder Henry Puchuela kicked a free kick and scored the final goal against the Knights. The game ended 3-0 North Central, confirming the Men’s soccer team’s first ever National Championship win.
“I was hungry on scoring. [Then] it came to my mind, we were winning,” Puchuela said.
The first of the three matches were held on Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. North Central won against Pensacola Christian College with a final score of 1-0.
Day two began with the men winning 2-1 against Bob Jones University, which they lost to two years prior. “I am happy for them. Not only were they able to win, we were able to avenge that loss and win that championship game,” Director of Athletics Greg Johnson said.
The team came home with the NCCAA Championship flag, plaque, and individual medals. Alongside these awards, Senior Gabe Hartwig and Coach Li came home as the Player and Coach of The Year respectively.
Overall, the men’s soccer team holds the 2018 NCCAA title for the first and only time in North Central history. This is the final year North Central would be participating in the NCCAA.