KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Despite an early and untimely exit from the Sooner Athletic tournament and having to wait to see how conference tournament around the nation unfolded, the John Brown University men's soccer team broke a 12-year drought and was named an at-large berth recipient and will face 14th-seeded William Carey (Miss.) on Saturday (Nov. 19) in the Opening Round of the NAIA National Championships, the national office announced on Monday (Nov. 14) afternoon.
Twenty-four automatic berths were doled out to various regular season and tournament champions around the country, leaving just six at-large selections available. Of those six, the Golden Eagles captured the fifth, marking just one spot away from missing out on this year's Championships. The at-large berths are dictated by the latest MRPI rating, which takes into account a team's record, wins against ranked opponents, whether it happened at home or on the road and its position in the NAIA National Coaches' Top-25 Poll.
The Golden Eagles (13-3-2) by virtue of its MRPI score, earned the second-to-last at-large berth handed out by the NAIA and will make its first-ever Opening Round appearance. This marks JBU's fifth-ever trip to the big stage having earned appearances in 1988, 1993, 2002 and most recently in 2003. The Golden Eagles are 1-4-1 all-time at the Championships, with its lone win coming against Walsh (Ohio) in 1993.
The Golden Eagles are led in scoring by SAC Player of the Year sophomore Kelvin Omondi, who posted 15 goals and nine assists (39 points) while sophomores Ryan Williams (10 assists) and Conner Haney (10 goals) each tallied 26 points. Eight total Golden Eagles have posted 10 points or more this season.
Junior Adam Holt (13-3-2), the SAC Keeper of the Year, patrols the goal for John Brown and boasts a .690 goals-against average, 10th-best in the nation, and an 80.9 save percentage. Eleven of JBU's 13 wins have come by way of Holt clean sheets, a single-season program record.
Head coach Scott Marksberry owns a 43-26-6 (.573) record over the past four seasons and will lead JBU in his first-ever trip to the NAIA National Championships.
The Crusaders (15-2-1) claimed the Southern States Athletic tournament championship autobid. William Carey defeated Dalton State (Ga.) 1-0 in the SSAC finals after finishing the regular season with a 6-1-0 mark in league play.
WCU will be making its 10th-ever appearance in the NAIA National Championships and have racked up a 10-11-2 mark all-time on the big stage. The Crusaders last appeared in the Championships in 2011, ending a three-year run, and have captured three third-place finishes.
Sophomore Joaquin Ruiz Cabello led all Crusaders in scoring with 7 goals and 12 assists (26 points) while junior Chance Bourdene owned nine goals and three assists (21 points). Five different players featured for WCU have netted double-digit points as the Crusaders out-scored its opponents to the tune of 48-17 this season.
Junior Grant Adam started all 18 contests in goal, notching a .800 save percent and eight clean sheets. Adam allowed 17 goals against on 85 shots, posting a .930 goals-against average.
This season was head coach Barry Ferrell's first at the helm for William Carey after spending years as an assistant coach, helping the Crusaders win three consecutive SSAC titles in 07, 08 and 09. The WCU alumnus made the national semifinals twice, once as a player in 2001 and once as an assistant in 2011.