WATERTOWN, Wis. -- The 2018 Sabercats team has a promising freshmen squad joining a group of vets. The goal is straightforward: get back to NCCAA Nationals. Last year ended in crushing disappointment for Coach Dave Anderson and the Sabercats, as they were less than a minute from making the return trip south to compete for the national title. As the story goes, the Sabercats conceded an equalizer, then a golden-goal winner in the NCCAA Regional Championship. When Providence University College took the title, it was the first time since 2011 that the Sabercats didn't qualify for the national tournament.
One thing's for sure: this team is out to set the record straight.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- The Sabercats will host the NCCAA North Region Tournament, November 2-3. This will be the first time since 2014 that the Sabercats have hosted a regional championship game. Maranatha will compete with Faith Baptist (Ankeny, Iowa), North Central (Minneapolis), and Providence (Manitoba, Canada) for the regional title. The Pilots of Providence are the defending champions.
- Eight freshmen grace the roster this year. Nine total players will compete for the first time in Blue and Gold.
- Maranatha will have eight home games - four in September and four in October - before the regional championship. Eleven of the 15 regular-season games will be against NCAA DIII opposition.
- MBU takes on NCCAA North Region opponents on three different dates. The Sabercats will face North Central (Minn.) once and Faith Baptist Bible College two times.
- In addition to the nine new faces, the Sabercats return 14 players from last year - nine of whom are seniors or graduate students.
FEATURED HOME GAMES
- vs North Central (Minn.) - 9.6 - This game could easily be an early preview of the NCCAA Regional Championship. The game is slated to be played in Watertown, but due to recent rainfall rendering the field unplayable, the venue may change.
- vs Finlandia - 9.25 - Maranatha has had success against the Lions in recent years: MBU has outscored FINNU 11-0 in the last two meetings combined.
- vs Faith Baptist - 10.27 - The Sabercats host the Eagles for a Parents' Day matchup. It will be the final tuneup before the NCCAA Regional Tournament.
COACH ANDERSON'S INPUT
After Preseason: "We are young, but we are more athletic than in years past. So I'm excited to see how we grow into understanding and performing as a team this year."
On Strengths and Weaknesses: "[Our strengths are] commitment to learning and improving, coupled with increased tactical awareness. [For weaknesses], although we've added some height this year, we are still a smaller team for the most part. So, we will need to discipline ourselves to keep the game away from physical battles while allowing our team defending and attacking to make us dangerous."
On Challenges: "[We] lack collegiate experience. For the second straight year, we will have plenty of freshmen stepping into big roles. Their adjustment to this level may take longer than when veteran players earn starting spots for the first time. Patience in this process will be paramount."
On the Freshman Class: "This freshmen class has not shied away from the opportunity. They are already stepping into big roles for us and embracing the challenge that lies ahead."
On Goals for the Season: "We want to get back to the NCCAA DII National Tournament. Once there, we think anything is possible, but all eyes right now are fixed on peaking in early November and progressing from the North Region."
The journey continues tomorrow as the Sabercats travel to Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. For details regarding the season opener, visit mbusabercats.com/composite.