After a tough 4-0 loss to Cal State Los Angeles on Oct. 25, head coach Adam Reeves said, “It’s not over, come back in a month, we are still building and we hopefully still have games to play.”
Just about a month later, the men’s soccer team has reached the Final Four and is headed to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to compete in the NCAA Semifinals.
The Broncos have had quite the journey. They started off their season losing four of their first six games, then went on to have a nine-game winning streak to end their conference play with a record of 10-2 and clinch the CCAA regular season title.
“In the beginning we had a rough start, nobody really believed in us, that is why we got knocked out of the national rank pretty quick,” goalkeeper Jakob Hansen said. “Nobody thought we were going to amount to much this year, but I think it was us coming together and knowing internally what we can achieve. We are back in the Final Four, everyone outside can see that now but this is exactly where we expected us to be at the beginning of the year.”
Earlier this month, the Broncos headed north to Seattle to start off the NCAA Division II Tournament.
In the first round, they defeated a familiar opponent, Fresno Pacific, 3-0. This advanced them to the second round where they had the chance to redeem themselves after a loss earlier in the season against the fourth -ranked team in the nation, Simon Fraser.
After two scoreless halves, the match headed to overtime, where Bronco forward Eduard Lucas sank one into the net to advance the Broncos to the West Region Final.
On Nov. 15, the Broncos defeated Azusa Pacific University when forward Gabriel Castillo scored in the 85th minute to bring home the West Region Title.
The win advanced the Broncos to the NCAA Quarterfinals that took place two days later on Nov. 17 against West Texas A&M.
Midfielder Cyro Oliveira found the net late in the first half and midfielder Eduardo Faria followed it up early in the second half, winning the game 2-0.
The team has been hard at work since its last match, spending Thanksgiving morning together on the pitch, going over drills and practicing techniques.
“Ten games ago we always looked at the next game. Maybe we are going to make it to the semifinals of the West Region, maybe we can take the West Region, but now it’s like we are going to go for it,” midfielder Ori Kenett said. “We need to come back with a ring, anything less than that is a disappointment for us.”
This will be the Broncos second consecutive year competing in the NCAA Final Four and third in the last four years.
“I want them to understand just how special [getting to the Final Four] is and what an accomplishment that is,” Reeves said. “People can go their entire collegiate career or an entire coaching career, which can last decades, and never get to one. So to get to three out of four is remarkable. I’m asking them to stay focused, stay humble and stay hungry so that this could maybe be our year.”
The Semifinal will take place this Thursday at Highmark Stadium in Pittsburgh with an 11 a.m. PST kickoff. The Broncos will be taking on the No. 3 seed, West Chester.
“West Chester is a good team, they knocked off [the University of] Charleston who ultimately defeated us last year in the national semifinal, so there is something to them,” Reeves said.
If the Broncos win, they will compete in the NCAA Final on Saturday at 9 a.m. PST, also at Highmark Stadium.
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