Men’s soccer advances to Elite Eight of NCAA
The men’s soccer team capped off a highly successful season by capturing the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament title and advancing to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division III championship for the first time in school history.
The Pioneers finished with a 16-3-3 overall record and were 7-1 in HCAC play, good for second in the regular season conference race behind Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology at 8-0.
Sophomore Pierre Manga was named to the All-HCAC team.
The Pioneers made the NCAA championship field for the fifth time in six years by defeating Anderson University in the semifinals of the HCAC tourney, then edging Hanover College 2-1 in the finals. Transy has appeared in the conference title game every year since it joined the HCAC, a nine-year streak.
Transy took an 11-match win streak into the NCAA’s first round, where it eliminated Capital University 2-1 in Columbus, Ohio. Moving to regional play, Transy defeated top-ranked Ohio Wesleyan University 1-0 in Delaware, Ohio.
In the round of 16, hosted by Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, the Pioneers used penalty kicks in two overtime periods to break a 1-1 tie and edge Swarthmore College, a program with a previous NCAA title game appearance. In the Elite Eight, Transy’s remarkable season finally ended, again after a 1-1 tie and penalty kicks, with Calvin College taking the win and a trip to the Final Four.
“We made a great run,” said Transy head coach Brandon Bowman. “I am so proud of our team and what our seniors accomplished in getting to the Elite Eight. We know we could have just as easily advanced to the Final Four if we could have gotten one more shot to go in.”
Transy dominated All-HCAC honors, with six of the 17 first-team places going to Pioneers. Sophomore forward Pierre Manga, the team’s second leading scorer with 20 points, was a first-team pick for the second year in a row. He was joined by junior defender Kevin Jones, junior defender/midfielder Kyle Jordan, senior goalkeeper Trey Kramer, junior midfielder/forward Tony Spero, and junior forward Brian Williams.
Williams led the team in scoring with 22 points and was twice an HCAC Player of the Week. Spero was the third leading scorer with 18 points and was an HCAC Player of the Week, as was Manga. Kramer was the primary goalkeeper and turned in a 0.56 goals-against average. Jones and Kramer were also named to the All-Great Lakes Region third team by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.