The 24h Annual NIRSA National Soccer Championships, played November 16–18, took place in a familiar place: The Reach 11 Sport Complex in Phoenix, AZ. While there were two new champions crowned in the Open Division, the Championship Division featured two very familiar programs.
Men’s Championship Division
The BYU Cougars are the 2017 Men’s National Champions! While it’s been 16 years since their last title, BYU is familiar with being a national champion. BYU won their sixth national title this year, the most of any program in the Men’s Division. No other program has won more than three.
BYU opened tournament play strongly with pool play wins over Michigan State 3-1 and Penn 5-0. They opened bracket play with a Round of 16 win over 2015 national champion North Carolina 2-0. They next had a great match against NC State in the quarterfinal. BYU prevailed 1-0. The engine began to rev up with a 3-1 win over Wisconsin in the semifinals.
The Cougars were very strong in the final against Cal Poly. They opened with a tremendous run of around 30 yards through four defenders and a nutmeg score by Christian Bain in the 19th minute. It was the type of goal that some color commentators (or one) would label “magisterial.” Four minutes later, Tanner Whitworth scored on a header from a cross through the run of play to lead 2-0. BYU would later add goals by Cameron McLaughlin in the 58th minute and another from Tanner Whitworth in the 62nd minute to give the Cougars what they needed to win. A PK from Josh Lazar of Cal Poly in the final minutes of the match would make the final score BYU 4-Cal Poly 1.
Women’s Championship Division
The University of California, Santa Barbara Gauchos are the 2017 Women’s National Champions! It’s the second consecutive and the program’s seventh overall national title in the past 11 years. No other program in the division has more than three titles. Sound familiar?
UCSB started pool play with a 1-1 draw over Florida and won the group with a 3-0 victory over Ohio. They battled through the first two rounds with a pair of 1-0 victories against Vermont in the Round of 16 and Cal Poly in the quarterfinals. As UCSB entered the semifinals, their familiar surroundings provided them with a sense of comfort. This was evident in their play during their 4-0 win over Penn State. They returned to a very familiar place: the final.
In the final against Texas, UCSB was rarely threatened. Mariela Cisneros opened the scoring with a goal in the 20th minute. Hannah Wendelken provided a crushing second goal in the 39th minute of the match to make it 2-0 just before halftime. Chloe Klienman provided the third and final goal four minutes into the 2nd half to secure the 3-0 victory over Texas.
Open Division Champions
The Arizona Wildcats are the 2017 Men’s Open Division Champions. Arizona won their first open title in history. The Wildcats marched through the tournament undefeated. In the final, they scored a first half goal against Texas that proved to be the only goal they needed. Arizona prevailed 1-0 to claim the Open Division title.
The Oregon Ducks are the 2017 Women’s Open Division Champions. Oregon won their first open title in their history. Oregon seemed to gain strength as the tournament progressed. In the final against Colorado “Black,” Oregon jumped out to a first-half lead with a goal from Stephanie Lunde. Colorado “Black” answered with a second half goal to tie the match. Meghan Schroeder found the back of the net to give Oregon the goal needed to win the Open Division Championship.
Looking beyond competition
Winning the sportsmanship awards were the University of Minnesota “A” in the Men’s Division and Ithaca College in the Women’s Division. Both schools should be commended for displaying both the athletic ability and the great sportsmanship that help make the NIRSA National Soccer Championships such an outstanding event!
To ensure student success in the classroom, NIRSA proctors exams for students at the tournament. A few highlights: NIRSA administered 29 exams from 14 institutions (UT-Austin had the most exams at seven), the longest exam took two hours, and the longest in terms of page count was 24. An additional three exams were proctored by a representative from UCLA. Our official proctor reports he would have failed 95% of the tests offered to our students. The NIRSA Championship Series is committed to student development and the number of proctored tests just goes to show that the Series really is about more than competition!
A committed official
Another great tournament story features 2017 MLS Referee of the Year Allen Chapman as an official. He worked several matches this weekend including being the referee of the men’s national championship game. In 2017, Mr. Chapman worked games in the MLS, Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, a club friendly between Real Salt Lake and Manchester United, the MLS All-Star Game between the MLS All-Stars and Real Madrid, and now our NIRSA National Soccer Championships.
Mr. Chapman was a former player and official at this tournament. He was able to provide the following statement: “As a former player back in 1995 and a referee in 2009, this year was a great experience to see that the passion of the teams, players, NISRA staff, volunteers, and referees is as strong as ever. The sacrifice from everyone involved is so refreshing and exciting. I really enjoyed my time at the NISRA National Championships and would encourage anyone to experience the true love of the game by participating in the NIRSA championship tournament.”
We are very appreciative of all our officials for their time and effort in making this tournament great. We send our sincerest thanks to Mr. Chapman for coming back and officiating in our tournament!
NIRSA would like to thank the Reach 11 Sport Complex for their assistance as host of the NIRSA National Soccer Championships. More results and the NIRSA National Soccer Championships Blog are available on the NIRSA Championship Series Soccer webpage.
Thanks are also due to our officials who officiated the tournament and to the following tournament staff:
- Cybbi Barton, Penn State University
- Ryan Bradshaw, George Mason University
- Vinnie Daino, Pittsburg State University
- Chad Ellsworth, Arizona State University
- Scott George, Central Michigan University
- Cory Granholm, NIRSA Headquarters
- Sean Graninger, University of Oregon
- Laurel Hanna, University of Iowa
- Josh Hamilton, University of Arizona
- Rachel Horras, Washington State University
- Jon Janis, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- Jonathan Johnston, Texas A & M University – Commerce
- Kris Kuchler, Arizona State University
- Mackenzie Lucius, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- John Luk, University of Massachusetts Lowell
- Chris McAlpine, University of Texas at Dallas
- Chad McKenzie, City of Round Rock
- Sabina Miller, University of Southern Mississippi
- Emily Patterson, Arizona State University
- Erin O’Sullivan, NIRSA Headquarters
- Nyssa Owens, Georgia Tech
- Mario Rios, Texas State University
- Hannah Roberts, East Carolina University
- Sara Sturzo, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
- Ricky Talman, Emory University
- Laura Thomas, Texas Tech University
- Alec Triggiano, University of Florida
- Merrissa Vault, George Mason University
- Oscee Wheatfall III, Texas A&M University
- Nicole Widmer, San Diego State University
- Chad Zimmerman, The University of Texas at Austin
Finally, tremendous thanks are owed to the tournament’s directors:
- Danny Feitel, Director of Competition, University of California, Merced
- Erik Jaeke, Director of Competition, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Sadat Khan, Director of Operations, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Kristi Levanduski, Assistant Director of Operations, The Ohio State University
- Noah Yannie, Director of Officials
- David Cymerman, Officials Assignor (Special Thanks for his 22 years of service to the tournament)
- Kevin Mauer, Assistant Director of Officials, Winston-Salem State University
- Valerie McCutchan, Tournament Director, NIRSA Headquarters
It was a fun and thrilling tournament that would not have been possible without the contributions of everyone involved. Congratulations to all the teams and to the staff for making the tournament such a success. We hope to see everyone next year at the 2018 NIRSA National Soccer Championships!
- For more information, please contact NIRSA Director of National Sport Programs Valerie McCutchan.