KANSAS CITY, Mo. --- The wait is over. California Baptist University has again made program history.
For the first time ever, the Lancers have been included in the 32-team NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship field. The 11th-seed Lancers were one of seven teams to earn an at-large berth and are one of eight teams that will be making their first-ever national tournament appearance.
The Lancers will host Holy Names in the Opening Round Saturday (Nov. 20) at 1:30 p.m. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Hawks and Lancers.
"This is what we have shot for since we showed up at training camp in August," said CBU Head Coach Ryan Jorden, who is the only coach to lead the Lancers to three straight postseasons. "Our goal is to get to the national tournament. They guys worked hard, and put themselves in this position. We've been fortunate enough to play two playoff games already, and although we lost one, we know what playoff soccer is like. There are no easy games at this point."
Up until two years ago, the Lancers had just one postseason appearance in its entire history. Now, with three straight postseason berths, the Lancers have earned their first-ever trip to the national tournament. They are 15-4, winning a school-record 15 games.
Along the way, they posted a program-record 10 shutouts and went 4-1 against nationally-ranked teams and 3-1 against teams in this year's national tournament field, beating Azusa Pacific, Kansas Wesleyan and Vanguard. A program-record five players were named All-GSAC, including all four starting defenders.
The Hawks, meanwhile, are 11-5-2, and earned an automatic bid by winning the California Pacific Conference regular season by going 11-1-1. They are making their third straight national tournament appearance and fourth overall and are 1-3 all-time. Last year, they lost, 1-0, at The Master's.
"They played a number of GSAC teams and have showed they can compete against them," said Jorden. "They took Fresno Pacific to overtime, and Fresno finished fourth in our league. They are definitely going to be a formidable opponent."
HNU is 11th in the NAIA with 3.22 goals per game, and Diego Orellana is 10th in the nation, scoring 1.00 goals per game. He has 17 on the season.
Though the Hawks and Lancers have never played each other, they do have five common opponents this year-Azusa Pacific, Fresno Pacific, The Master's, UC Santa Cruz and Westmont. Holy Names went 0-4-1 against those teams with their lone tie coming against Westmont, while the Lancers went 6-1, playing Azusa Pacific and Westmont twice.
The 2010 NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship Final Site is Nov. 29-Dec. 4 in Orange Beach, Ala.