After a perfect 18-0 regular season, and a No. 1 national ranking, the Northern Kentucky University Men’s Soccer Team enters tournament play with high hopes for a run at the program’s first national championship.
On Oct. 28, NKU, the No.1 seed in the conference tournament, faces the No. 8 seed, Wisconsin-Parkside, a team ranked as high as No. 12 in the nation early in the season before stumbling to a 6-6-1 conference record. If the Norse were to lose to Wiconsin-Parkside, however, they would still get into the national tournament by way of an at-large bid based off their regular season record.
Once the national tournament starts, NKU will be grouped with the other GLVC qualifiers into the Great Lakes bracket. A characteristic of the tournament that might not bode well for the Norse considering the GLVC has been a clear powerhouse in men’s soccer this year – six schools have held national rankings at some point during the season.
NKU Coach John Basalyga talked about his disapproval of the national tournament being set up this way.
“You could end up beating the same team during the season and in the conference tournament, then run into them (at the National tournament) and there’s a good chance they’ll beat you the third time around,” he said.
When asked about his team’s goals for the national tournament, Basalyga would only say that he has always had a personal goal, throughout his entire coaching career, of improving upon the last year’s results by at least one game. In keeping with this standard, the team would need to make it to the Final Four, after the team’s Elite Eight appearance of last year. However, Basalyga added that just getting to the Sweet 16 regional championship game would be a big deal for the team.
The national tournament begins the weekend of Nov. 8, and concludes the weekend of Nov. 30.
The team plays host to Wisconsin-Parkside in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament this Sunday, Oct. 28, at 2:30 p.m. at the Wilder Sports Complex.