After falling to Rockhurst in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship game Nov. 9, the Northern Kentucky University Men’s Soccer team will be heading back to Kansas City, Mo., for the NCAA Division II Tournament.
The Norse were selected as the No. 2 seed in the Midwest region and will take on the No. 3 seed Ashland at 4 p.m. Nov. 14.
NKU head coach John Basalyga likes facing teams from the regular-season in the tournament.
“It’s always good to know that you’ve seen someone like Ashland before,” Basalyga said. “The second games are a bit tighter because we know them and they know us.”
The Norse tied with Ashland 1-1 in two overtimes on Oct. 14 this season in Ashland, Ohio.
Games like that can’t get too much closer. For Basalyga and NKU, the team with the momentum will advance in the tournament.
“Whoever gets the break will win the game,” Basalyga said.
Traveling to Kansas City for the third time this season, Basalyga likes knowing his team will be flying to K.C.
“We’re flying in Wednesday or Thursday and I am just happy we are not going by bus,” he said. “The bus rides take 10 or 11 hours and traveling that way can physically wear your team down.”
Basalyga also likes knowing the field his team will play on.
A key player for the Norse will be sophomore forward Steven Beattie. He broke the 15-year-old school record with two goals (20 on the season) in the semi-final match with Bellarmine on Nov. 7.
“Steven (Beattie) has uncanny ability and commodity that some players wish they could have,” Basalyga said. “I do think though that part of Beattie’s success is that he is surrounded by players that help him along the way.”
Basalyga knows that teams will be looking to stop Beattie on the field.
“Rockhurst was double-teaming Beattie, sometimes even triple-teaming him,” Basalyga said. “Teams are going to go in and double-team him and shut him out and see if your other guys will score.”
With the tournament coming up, Basalyga went back to his original thought.
“You just know whoever makes the break in the game or gets lucky, will win,” he said.