MEDFORD – The Tufts University men's soccer team will make its third appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship "Final Four" this weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Head coach Josh Shapiro's Jumbos play in the national semifinals against the University of Rochester (16-2-2) on Friday (Nov. 30) at 1:45 pm ET. The DIII men's and women's championships are being held at UNCG Soccer Stadium at the University of North Caroline Greensboro.
In the other national semifinal, Calvin (21-1) squares off against the University of Chicago (18-2-1) on Friday at 11 am. The semifinal winners will meet for the national championship on Saturday (Dec. 1) at 2:30 pm.
Tufts (16-0-3) advanced to its third Final Four with a 4-0 victory over Montclair State University at home on Bello Field in the NCAA Quarterfinals on November 18. The Jumbos scored four goals in a 25-minute span during the first half to take control of the game. Joe Braun, Gavin Tasker, Travis Van Brewer and Derek Enge scored the goals. Brett Rojas had two of the assists. The four goals were the most for Tufts in NCAA play since their 4-2 win over Wheaton (Ill.) in the 2014 NCAA Final.
In their previous Final Four appearances, the Jumbos won the national championship both times. In 2014 (Kansas City, Mo.), the Jumbos defeated Ohio Wesleyan 3-0 in the semi-finals and Wheaton (Ill.) 4-2 in the national championship game. In 2016 (Salem, Va), Tufts won 2-1 over St. Thomas (Minn.) in the semi-final and 1-0 in two overtimes against Calvin for the NCAA title.
This is the eighth tournament appearance overall for Tufts, and the team has qualified in six of the last seven years. They have an impressive 19-5-2 record in NCAA Tournament games.
The University of Rochester advanced to the Final Four for the first time in school history after posting a 2-1 victory over top-ranked Messiah College in the NCAA Division III Sectional Final on November 18. It was the first time Rochester has beaten Messiah in the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Falcons had won the first four meetings, including a 2-0 victory last year on their home field in Grantham, Pa. That sent Messiah to the Final Four and the Falcons won the NCAA title.
The 2018 sectional was supposed to return to Messiah, but a late-week snowstorm made the soccer field unplayable and the tournament was re-directed to Rochester on Thursday evening. Ulrik Koren scored the first Yellowjacket goal against Messiah, while the second was a Falcon own goal. With its four NCAA wins this fall, Rochester has a 17-15-3 mark in their 18th national tournament appearance. The Yellowjackets play in the University Athletic Association (UAA).
Calvin punched its ticket to the national semifinals with a 3-1 victory over host Case Western Reserve November 17 in a national quarterfinal match. Jacob Witte, Hunter Olson and Lucas Albrecht netted the goals for the Knights. Calvin advances to the national semifinals for the third time in four years and for the fifth time in school history. Seeking their first NCAA title this weekend, Calvin is in its 17th NCAA Tournament and holds an impressive 21-6 record in those games. They are members of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
An extra-time winner from senior forward Max Lopez sent the University of Chicago men's soccer team to the NCAA Final Four for the second-straight year as the Maroons topped Luther College 1-0 in a tightly-contested sectional final on November 18 at Stagg Field. Like Rochester, the Maroons are members of the UAA. They are playing in their 10th NCAAs with a 13-5-6 record entering the weekend. This is their third Final Four.
Calvin is the top offensive team in the country, averaging 4.14 goals per game entering the weekend. Tufts has the best defensive team by the numbers out of the Final Four with a 0.45 goals against average that is #6 in the NCAA DIII statistics. The Knights are ninth in goals against average (0.50) while Tufts is 85th offensively (2.16). All four teams are ranked among the NCAA top 25 defensively as Rochester is 18th (0.58) and Chicago is 21st (0.61). The Yellowjackets average 1.85 goals per game for a 136th national ranking, while Chicago's 2.24 goals per game are 71st in the NCAA statistics.
Tufts will be challenging to become just the fifth team in the 44-year history of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship to win three national titles. As it stands, they are one of nine teams in the country to win two or more.