The Kalamazoo College men's soccer team earned its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001 as the Hornets will head to John Carroll University on Saturday, Nov. 16 to play Centre College at 4:30 p.m.
Kalamazoo bounced back from a five-win season in 2018 in a big way by going 11-4-2 during 2019 and finishing with a 4-2-1 record during MIAA play. Kalamazoo's season was highlighted by wins over Ohio Wesleyan, who will play Hope in the first round, and North Park who finished with a 15-4-1 record and will face Pacific Lutheran in round one. The Hornets average 1.65 goals per game while allowing just 0.62 per game. Forward Ben Meschke led the team and tied for the lead in the conference with 14 goals throughout the season. Along with Meschke, 10 other Hornets found the back of the net this season including three from senior Nick Kraeuter. Kalamazoo's goalie duo has been essential in this season's success as sophomore Luke Kastran and freshman Sean Ellis combined to allow just 11 goals this season. Ellis (.912) and Kastran (.852) own the two best save percentages in the MIAA.
The NCAA III Tournament field consists of 64 teams including 42 that earned automatic berths due to winning conference championships. One team was selected from a pool that consisted of independent institutions and members of conferences that do not meet the requirements for automatic qualification. The last 21 schools that made the tournament were from the final pool of institutions from automatic-qualifying conferences that did not win their conference championship. The Hornets are one of three MIAA teams that earned a berth along with MIAA champion Calvin and Hope.
Kalamazoo is matched up against Centre College who finished its season with a 16-3-1 overall record and went 6-1 during conference play. The Colonels, who are on a 10-game winning streak, are coming off a win over No. 18 Oglethorpe in the Southern Athletic Association Tournament championship game. Centre is currently receiving 34 votes in the D3soccer.com Week 10 Poll.
NCAA Tournament History
This marks the first time Kalamazoo has reached the NCAA III Tournament since the 2001 season under long-time coach Hardy Fuchs. During that season, the Hornets went 18-3 overall and were a perfect 12-0 in MIAA play. The team defeated Wheaton 1-0 in the Regional Semifinal before falling to Ohio Wesleyan 3-2 in overtime in the Regional Final. Kalamazoo also made it to the NCAA Tournament the previous year and fell to Wilmington in the first round. This marks the seventh time that a Kalamazoo team has reached the NCAA III Tournament.
The teams are scheduled to kick-off at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 at John Carroll University. The winner will advance to play the winner of No. 10 John Carroll (17-2-2) and Washington and Jefferson (12-7-2) on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m.