The Trinity men’s soccer team clinched the No.1 seed in the SCAC Championship with their win over Southwestern last weekend. Southwestern is now the No. 2 seed going into playoffs. Trinity has improved its overall record to 16-2-1 and 13-1-0 in conference games.
Last Friday, Trinity traveled to Georgetown to play Southwestern in their final game of the regular season. The Tigers defeated the Pirates 1-0 with a header from sophomore defender Tom Carwile in the 24th minute. Carwile has now scored seven goals this season. Senior forward Yuri Ribeiro had the assist, his thirteenth of the season. Trinity scored three other goals in the match, but the goals were not counted because the officials ruled them offside; however, two of these rulings were very contentious.
“The game was really intense. We knew ahead of time that Southwestern would be giving us their best effort. We defended really well, and although we didn’t create as many chances as we usually do offensively, we still played well and gutted out another win,” said senior midfielder Darren McAfee.
First-year defender Francisco Vasquez had an important game-saving tackle in the last seconds of the game to stop a breakaway. The game was competitive and physical, and both Southwestern and Trinity’s fans were boisterous.
“Southwestern is a team with a lot of self-belief and they always play us very hard, so it was a really good test for us before we go into the conference tournament and the NCAA tournament. We’re very pleased with the way each of our players performed and the mental strength and unity that we showed; it’s a great result,” said assistant coach Edward Cartee.
Sophomore goalkeeper Matt Cardone had two important saves in the game. Even though he was the only spark of offense for the Tigers in the game, Carwile was named the SCAC Defensive Player of the Week for his effort in leading the shutout. Senior defender Ben Anderson has been named to the Capital One Academic All-District 8 Division III Men’s Soccer Team.
“It’s really nice to be recognized for academics as well as athletics. I didn’t even know I had received the award until someone came and congratulated me. It was a pleasant surprise; my mother was quite happy to hear the news,” said Anderson.
This weekend the Tigers will compete in the SCAC playoffs. The tournament is hosted by Southwestern in Georgetown, TX. On Friday No. 3 seed Colorado College will play No. 5 seed Schreiner College and No. 4 seed Texas Lutheran will play No. 6 seed Austin College.
Trinity will play the winner of the TLU v. Austin College game at 5 p.m. on Saturday in the semifinals and the championship match will be played at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Tigers will enter the playoffs this weekend having gone undefeated for fourteen games and as the veteran SCAC champions.
“I think that it’s important since there are games on back to back days, with less than 24 hours between the two, we would really like to get out to a fast start on Saturday’s game. We would like to get a secure lead early and rotate our squad, using everybody on the bench and keeping the whole team as fresh as possible going into Sunday’s game. We’ve been extremely strong all year defensively and obviously it’s critical that that continues but I think that our confidence more than anything else stems from having a flowing and prolific attack which we have been able to do very successfully,” Cartee said.
Should they win the SCAC, the Tigers will have an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. They lost in the NCAA quarterfinals a year ago to Montclair State University by a score of 2-1. A win in that game would have given the Tigers their first trip to the NCAA “Final Four” since 2007. The team looks to win its first NCAA National Championship since 2003. The Tigers are coming into the postseason on fire, not having lost a game since Tuesday, Sept. 10 and have only given up two goals since that date, with only one against a Division III opponent. A potential home playoff game would be the Tigers’ first game at home since Sunday, Oct. 13.