Nationals Scouting Report

Nationals Scouting Report

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Tomorrow, the Sabercats Men's Soccer Team kicks off their return bid for the NCCAA DII national title.

The tournament has a new format. Each team will play each other, and the team with the best record advances. In the event of a tie, goal difference, goals scored, and goals allowed are among the tie-breaking factors.

Maranatha will play at 3:00 p.m. tomorrow and Thursday, taking on Randall first and Pensacola second.

This year's edition of the national finale has six bona fide contenders, starting with three from Pool A:

POOL A

#5 Maranatha (8-7-2)

Indisputably, Maranatha's region is the strongest at the national level. Of the last eight NCCAA DII National Championships, seven have had a North Region representative, and five of the last eight champions have come from the North. While regional strength doesn't influence the power ratings, but the point is this: the Sabercats have been tested for years against national contenders at the regional level. They will look to capitalize on that experience at the national stage.

The similarities of this year to the Sabercats' first national title in 2014 are notable: both years, the Sabercats lost to Moody at the regional stage. Both years, the Sabercats were selected as an at-large recipient and given the #5 seed. Both years, the Sabercats were required to beat the #4 seed and the #1 seed to get to the national final. Both years, the tournament was in Kissimmee. And both years, the group of players were going to the national tournament for the first time in their collegiate careers.

Call it mojo. Call it vibes. Call it whatever you want, but this year's team is different. They have 14 seniors and nine four-year players on the roster. So while the Sabercats may not have the national experience that some have, they know each other. They are cohesive as a group and they have still battled at the regional level with would-be national champions.

This group has been through three years of disappointment and close calls in a competitive region, and you can be sure they will use that experience as fuel to the fire.

#4 Pensacola (12-8-0)

The Eagles have been ranked as the #1 team all season, as they won the national title in 2017. The intercollegiate program is young at Pensacola, but it is built off of numerous years of playing "Collegian" (also known as "intramural") soccer within the school itself. So while they have official games and an official schedule, the tradition of soccer at Pensacola has been alive and well prior to the establishment of the intercollegiate program.

The Eagles outlasted Bob Jones University in a gritty South Region Championship a couple of weekends ago, and like MBU, they have seen mixed results in the midst of a competitive schedule.

Seven players from the 2017 national championship team have returned for the 2019 season. That experience, coupled with the still-recent passing of former head coach Dr. Fred Johnson, could give the Eagles inspiration as they look to reclaim their national title. 

#1 Randall (14-3-0)

The Saints have won their first-ever NCCAA regional championship by topping Kansas Christian for the Southwest Region Title. That victory came as an exclamation point to a 14-3 season, giving Randall both momentum and the #1 seed going into the tournament. Despite their dominant record, the Saints are still yet to establish proven competence outside of NCCAA competition. They are 14-2 against NCCAA schools this season, and those schools are primarily from their region.

With their schedule in mind, it's of no wonder that Randall leads the NCCAA DII with an average of over six goals per game. But they will face the Sabercats' third-best defense in the NCCAA, as MBU has conceded just 1.35 goals/game this year.

In short: Randall has proven themselves formidable. But what will they do outside of their region?

Randall has qualified for the national tournament six times since 2005, but this is the first time they have earned a berth as a region champion.

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Pool A at a glance:

Seed                         Location        Qualifying Method     Record    NCCAA Power Rating 
#1 Randall Moore, Okla. Southwest Champion    14-3-0 4.733
#4 Pensacola Pensacola, Fla. South Champion 12-8-0 2.931
#5 Maranatha Watertown, Wis. At-Large (North) 8-7-2 2.484

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To follow the games at the 2019 tournament, visit mbusabercats.com/schedule.

Unfinished Business
March 28, 2020 Unfinished Business
Close Calls
March 23, 2020 Close Calls
Opening Day Letters
March 20, 2020 Opening Day Letters
Camps and COVID-19
March 19, 2020 Camps and COVID-19
Coronavirus Cancellations
March 16, 2020 Coronavirus Cancellations
Depue Makes it Two
March 16, 2020 Depue Makes it Two
Nationals Cancelled
March 12, 2020 Nationals Cancelled
Callie Highlights Honors
March 11, 2020 Callie Highlights Honors
Johnson Honored Again
March 10, 2020 Johnson Honored Again
Wilkerson Awarded
March 6, 2020 Wilkerson Awarded
Nationals Insider
March 4, 2020 Nationals Insider
First Hurdle
February 27, 2020 First Hurdle
For Three
February 26, 2020 For Three
Sizing Up the Seedings
February 19, 2020 Sizing Up the Seedings
Callie Collects
February 14, 2020 Callie Collects
Classroom Competence
February 13, 2020 Classroom Competence
Running Da Show
February 3, 2020 Running Da Show
Inside the Field
January 23, 2020 Inside the Field
Year Three
January 16, 2020 Year Three
DeLozier Steps In
January 3, 2020 DeLozier Steps In
Twice Honored
December 13, 2019 Twice Honored
Steps Forward
December 13, 2019 Steps Forward
Lofty Standards
December 13, 2019 Lofty Standards
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
December 10, 2019 Looking Back, Looking Ahead
The Road Behind
December 10, 2019 The Road Behind
Unfinished Business
December 9, 2019 Unfinished Business
Twice Around for Johnson
December 1, 2019 Twice Around for Johnson
Best of the Best
November 27, 2019 Best of the Best
Nationals Scouting Report
November 19, 2019 Nationals Scouting Report
St. Lawrence Honored
November 18, 2019 St. Lawrence Honored
Reclaim the Fame
November 16, 2019 Reclaim the Fame
Looking Ahead
November 11, 2019 Looking Ahead
The Best in the North
November 9, 2019 The Best in the North
Living to Fight
November 9, 2019 Living to Fight
Two of the Best
November 9, 2019 Two of the Best
Sizing up the Semis
November 7, 2019 Sizing up the Semis
Flying Fopma in Focus
November 1, 2019 Flying Fopma in Focus
Wide Open
October 29, 2019 Wide Open
Work to Do
October 29, 2019 Work to Do
Nelson Gets the Nod
October 28, 2019 Nelson Gets the Nod
In Memory of Terry Price
October 25, 2019 In Memory of Terry Price
Four For Fopma
October 21, 2019 Four For Fopma
Fopma Goes Farther
October 14, 2019 Fopma Goes Farther
Triple Trouble
October 8, 2019 Triple Trouble
Johnson at the Top
October 1, 2019 Johnson at the Top
Hansel Honored
September 30, 2019 Hansel Honored
Kinzler Collects
September 30, 2019 Kinzler Collects
Shepard Snags Award
September 23, 2019 Shepard Snags Award
NCCAA Top 10 - September 17
September 18, 2019 NCCAA Top 10 - September 17
A Nod for Johnson
September 16, 2019 A Nod for Johnson
Fopma in the Spotlight
September 10, 2019 Fopma in the Spotlight
Fresh Start
September 10, 2019 Fresh Start
Off and Running
September 5, 2019 Off and Running
Maranatha Memories
August 31, 2019 Maranatha Memories
Reynolds Rewarded
August 30, 2019 Reynolds Rewarded
Eyes on the Prize
August 28, 2019 Eyes on the Prize
Just the Facts
August 23, 2019 Just the Facts
Dual Purpose
August 6, 2019 Dual Purpose
Borchardt Takes Over
August 1, 2019 Borchardt Takes Over