Cal Lutheran’s first season of playing soccer at the NCAA Division III level has resulted in playoff berths for the school’s men’s and women’s teams.
The women will open postseason action in the West regional Saturday against Kalamazoo (Mich.) College in an 11 a.m. match at UC San Diego. On Sunday, the men will play in the North Central/Far West regional on the same field, taking on the host Tritons at 2 p.m.
The Master’s College also qualified for postseason soccer competition and will play host to Southern California College today at 1 p.m. in the first round of the NAIA Area 2 men’s playoffs.
Master’s is seeded fourth among Area 2 playoff teams. Westmont (15-3-1) is seeded first, followed by Fresno Pacific (15-2), Biola (6-8-3), Master’s, Southern California College and Westminster of Utah (10-4-5).
The Cal Lutheran women’s team finished first in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and the men’s team tied for the championship with Claremont-Mudd, but neither title brought an automatic berth in the playoffs. Cal Lutheran’s invitations came Sunday from an NCAA playoff selection committee.
Still, George Kuntz, coach of both Cal Lutheran teams, said, “I wasn’t surprised that (both teams) got in because, looking at all the other teams, we deserved to get in.”
The Cal Lutheran women (16-3) are led by Rachel Wackerman, a sophomore forward who has 33 goals and five assists.
Kalamazoo (15-1-1), which is making its third playoff appearance in four seasons, counters with a scoring phenom of its own--Jennifer Russell, a forward who has 35 goals and 13 assists.
Wackerman also must contend with Shelly Krisfalusi, Kalamazoo’s returning All-American goalie who has seven shutouts.
In the women’s playoffs, the 16-team field is split into four regionals, all of which will be played Saturday and Sunday.
In the other West regional semifinal match, St. Mary’s of Minnesota (13-3) will play UC San Diego (13-1-2) at 1:30 p.m. The winners will play Sunday at 11:30 a.m., and regional champions will advance to the final four, to be played Nov. 16-17 at a site to be determined.
The Regals played a nonconference game against UC San Diego in September, losing, 1-0, in overtime.
The winner between the Cal Lutheran men’s team (14-4-1) and UC San Diego (13-4-1) will play the winner of Saturday’s match in Minnesota between St. Thomas of Minnesota (11-4-2) and Wisconsin-Oskosh (13-2-2).
The second and third rounds of the men’s playoffs will be played Nov. 15-17 and the semifinals and finals Nov. 22-24 at sites to be determined.
In the NAIA tournament, Biola will play host to Westminster in today’s other first-round match.
Westmont will play host to the lowest remaining seeded team in the semifinals Saturday, and Fresno Pacific will play host to the highest remaining seeded team. The semifinal matches will be held Saturday at 1 p.m., and the championship match will be held Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. Twelve teams will head to the NAIA tournament in Boca Raton, Fla., Nov. 25-30.
Momir Horvatek, a junior forward, leads Master’s with 11 goals, and Justin Roath, a midfielder, has 17 assists and six goals for a team-high 29 points. Brian Crosson, a goalkeeper, has 83 saves and a goals-against average of 1.73 in 11 games.
Ezequiel Bongarra and Mariano Callebreta, both sophomores, were All-District 3 selections for Master’s.
Staff writer Mike Hiserman contributed to this story.