The Centre men’s soccer team captured its first Southern Athletic Association (SAA) Tournament championship with a 2-0 triumph over Millsaps on Sunday afternoon at Oglethorpe. With the win, the fourth-seeded Colonels punch their ticket to the upcoming NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament with the SAA’s automatic bid.
Centre (14-5) claims its sixth overall conference championship with the victory on Sunday and first conference tournament title since 1991, when the Colonels bested Trinity (Texas) 3-2 in overtime to win the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) tournament crown. Centre also won SCAC championships in 1990, ’91, ’94, ’95 and an SAA regular season title in 2012.
The Colonels will make their fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first trip to the dance since the 2012 season when they earned an at-large bid.
On Sunday, Centre wasted little time getting on the board as junior defender Ian Williams (Versailles, Ky.) found the back of the net in the sixth minute off the assist by senior midfielder Phil Shehan (Orlando, Fla.) to give the Colonels an early lead.
Sophomore goalkeeper Bailey Spade (Frankfort, Ky.) was busy early in the contest, recording four saves in the first eight minutes of action.
Centre would hold that one-goal edge for over 70 minutes of action before the Colonels extended their advantage to two as junior defender Jesse DiLuzio (North Woodmere, N.Y.) netted his fourth goal of the season off the feed by senior forward Christian Gateskill (Danville, Ky.).
Centre earned the win despite being outshot 23-7 by the Majors in the contest. Millsaps also held an 11-0 advantage in corner kicks.
The Colonels are now winners of five straight heading into the NCAA Tournament. During the current five-match winning streak, Centre is outscoring opponents 18-2. The Colonels have now recorded eight shutout wins on the year.
Shehan was named the SAA Tournament MVP, as the SAA leader in goals (12), points (29) and game-winning goals (4) tallied three goals and two assists in the tournament. He has now recorded a point in eight of the last nine matches. Spade was also named to the All-Tournament Team, finishing with 18 saves and helping the Colonels to three tournament victories.
All three of Williams’ goals this season have been game-winners.
The NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament selection show is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. ET. At that time, Centre will learn its opponent and match location for its first round matchup. Be sure to check back to CentreColonels.com for all information regarding the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.
The Colonels’ last appearance in the NCAA Tournament was in 2012 when Centre topped Ohio Wesleyan 2-1 in overtime in the first round before dropping a decision to Wheaton (Ill.) in the second round of action.
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by Liam P. Halferty