As it does every year, the 2018 NIRSA National Soccer Tournament provided a lot of excitement. It was exciting to see champion teams try to defend their titles. It was also exciting to see new teams get the opportunity to lift the championship plaque. We would have had no repeat champions this year. Out of the open finalists and championship semifinalists in the Men’s and Women’s Divisions, a total of three championships were won in their respective divisions in 25 tournaments. Some advanced further than they had ever done before. But unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate with the story this weekend.

The Women’s Championship Division

In the Women’s Championship Division, we were left with University of California, Davis, University of Illinois, Clemson University, and The Ohio State University. Of the four teams, only Ohio State had previously won a national title—that was in 2014. UC Davis and Illinois were to have met in one semifinal, both undefeated and untied with UD Davis needing extra time in their Round of 16 matchup with North Carolina. The second semifinal would have featured two teams that were 2-1-1. Clemson had one loss in pool play to Colorado State, while Ohio State lost to defending champion UCSB. Their ties were in the knockout rounds with Clemson advancing over Colorado after a 2-2 match and 4-3 after kicks from the mark. Ohio State advanced from their draw over 2017 finalist Texas after a 0-0 match and 3-2 after nine rounds of kicks from the mark in the Round of 16.

The Men’s Championship Division

In the Men’s Championship Division, the University of North Carolina, Virginia Tech, The Ohio State University, and the University of Florida remained to challenge for the title. Ohio State remained the only undefeated and untied team in the remaining four. Ohio State needed extra time against Oregon to stay that way in the quarterfinals with a 2-1 victory. Ohio State would have faced Florida. Florida had a loss in pool play to Texas but recovered to victories over UC Davis and defending champion BYU in the quarterfinals. In the second semifinal, North Carolina would have faced Virginia Tech. Each team had one minor setback. North Carolina opened the tournament with a draw against Colorado State, and Virginia Tech had a loss to Oregon. North Carolina advanced to the semis with a pair of 2-0 wins. Virginia Tech powered through with 6-0 and 4-1 victories. North Carolina and Ohio State are both previous national champions.

The Women’s Open Division

In the Women’s Open Division, we reached the finals which were to have featured the University of Southern California and San Diego State University. San Diego State went through undefeated and untied. They were consistent in scoring two goals in each match while giving up its lone goal to Boston College in the quarterfinal. USC was second in their pool to Boston College. The tie to Boston College was its only setback. USC powered through their bracket including a 2-0 win over crosstown rival UCLA.

The Men’s Open Division

Speaking of UCLA, in the Men’s Open Division, the Bruins ended up in the final where they were to have played against Utah Valley University. UCLA marched through pool and bracket play undefeated, untied, and unscored upon including wins over Connecticut and Minnesota in bracket play. Utah Valley had one set back to Minnesota in a 4-2 loss in pool play. Utah Valley rebounded with wins over Miami (FL) and James Madison in pool bracket play to get to the open final.

Unavoidable weather interruptions

However, it was not to be. The rain and lightning in the area interrupted play late Saturday morning and ultimately halted play altogether early Saturday evening. Efforts were made to play in available windows. The fact that any windows were available was due to the work of our hosts from Foley and the tournament directors. NIRSA Soccer is working with the division finalist to finish play in the new year and crown champions in each division.

NIRSA would like to send a tremendous thank you to the Foley Sports Complex and the City of Foley for their assistance as host of the NIRSA National Soccer Championships. Without their hard work and commitment to the tournament, we would not have had any chance at playing at all on Saturday.

A heartfelt thank you to so many NIRSA Soccer supporters

NIRSA would like to send a special thanks to our officials for their work in helping officiate our matches. We would also like to thank Official Sports International (OSI) for sponsoring the tournament with referee gear and awards. And we would also like to thank SubitUp for providing the game assigning software for our referees. Also a thanks to NIRSA’s marketing partner Riddle & Bloom for providing soccer game balls and a soccer ball to each team.

Thanks are also due to our great tournament staff:

  • Cybbi Barton, University of Michigan
  • Michael Binger, Florida Atlantic University
  • Caroline Ciell, University of Mississippi
  • Vinnie Daino, Pittsburg State University
  • Chad Ellsworth, Texas Tech University
  • Scott Flickinger, Cornell University
  • Turner Goa, Kent State University
  • Sean Graninger, University of Oregon
  • Laurel Hanna, University of Michigan
  • Jasmine Holmes, Cornell University
  • Alex Horn, Loyola University Chicago
  • Rachel Horras, Washington State University
  • Jon Janis, University of Houston
  • Jonathan Johnston, Texas A & M University – Commerce
  • Janna Jordan, University of Florida
  • Bailey Kenney, University of Mississippi
  • Chad McKenzie, City of Round Rock
  • Max Miller, Swarthmore College
  • Sabina Miller, George Mason University
  • Brittany Mueller, University of Kentucky
  • Emily Patterson, Arizona State University
  • Michael Potter, Pennsylvania State University
  • Travis Rawe, Wake Forest University
  • Adam Richman, University of Alabama
  • Mario Rios, Texas State University
  • Hannah Roberts, East Carolina University
  • Nick Singer, University of Illinois
  • Laura Thomas, University of Alabama
  • Alec Triggiano, University of Florida
  • Merrissa Vault, George Mason University
  • Laura Whitely, University of Pacific
  • Chad Zimmerman, The University of Texas at Austin

Finally, a big thanks is owed to the tournament’s directors:

  • Danny Feitel, Director of Competition, University of California, Merced
  • Chris McAlpine, Director of Competition, The University of Texas at Dallas
  • Kristi Levanduski, Director of Operations, The Ohio State University
  • Phil Carter, Assistant Director of Operations, Arizona State University
  • Erik Jaeke, Director of Officials, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Kevin Mauer, Assistant Director of Officials, Winston-Salem State University
  • Valerie McCutchan, Tournament Director, NIRSA Headquarters
  • Nicole Jackson, Assistant Tournament Director, NIRSA Headquarters

It was a fun and thrilling silver anniversary tournament and despite the challenging weather on Saturday, spirits were never dampened due to the teams, fans, and contributions of everyone involved. Thank you to all! Results can be found at the NIRSA National Soccer Championships Blog and on the NIRSA Championship Series Soccer webpage. We hope to see everyone next year at the 2019 NIRSA National Soccer Championships!


  • For more information, please contact NIRSA Director of National Sport Programs Valerie McCutchan.
Assistant Director of Sport Clubs at Texas State University | NIRSA Profile

Mario Rios is currently the Assistant Director of Sport Clubs at Texas State University.