The Bryant & Stratton College men’s and women’s soccer teams will each enter the USCAA National Tournament with the first overall seed after both teams finished the regular season ranked number one in the coaches poll.
A 13-1 record carried the women to the top of the USCAA coaches poll, a position they’ve held since the preseason. A pair of 1-0 wins over Washington Adventist and the eventual number two team in the country, University of Maine-Fort Kent, were the marquee triumphs for the Bobcats.
“We really raised the bar for ourselves,” said head coach Alex Grigorita. “Everyone has been motivated to keep this ranking with sort of a ‘catch us if you can’ mentality. But we know we haven’t accomplished anything yet and we’re working towards a national title.”
The Bobcats finished the year with two of the top five goal scorers in the nation, with Marie Seeger potting 16 goals and Lyla Lionel leading the USCAA with 22 goals on the year. Along with her 16 goals, Seeger leads the nation with 16 assists, with Asako Ideue just behind her with 10.
As a team, Bryant & Stratton ranks first in the USCAA in goals, shooting percentage, shots on goal percentage and assists. Their lone blemish came against William Smith College, an NCAA DIII program. The 13-1 record and number one ranking has made Grigorita’s return to the program an exciting one. After a year away, Grigorita has stepped back into the head coaching role with 18 new players and an eye on pushing the Bobcats soccer program to the next level.
“It’s been a group result, not only for myself but everyone from the AD to my coaching staff,” Girgorita said. “It takes everyone’s effort to make this happen. We’ve been challenged right from preseason and every player has had a belief in our system and style.”
The Bobcats will be in Pool A at the National Tournament along with fourth-seed, St. Mary of the Wood College and five-seed, Florida National University. Mississippi University for Women enter at the third seed where they’ll face two-seed University of Maine-Fort Kent in Pool B.
Bryant & Stratton’s men’s side will also enter the National Tournament in Pool A after grabbing the number one overall seed themselves.
It wasn’t the wire-to-wire effort the women’s team enjoyed, but the men’s squad rolled to an impressive 10-0-2 record, averaging 5.5 goals per game and allowing more than one goal only once.
The Bobcats have been driven by a balanced offensive attack with three players – Mark Parchment, Delano Hodge and Jon Stublaa – leading the way with nine goals. Stublaa led the nation in assists (nine) but Bryant & Stratton’s balanced attack was key to their national-best goal scoring totals. That’s paid off with the number one seed in a strong men’s field.
“This is a lot of gratification for a lot of hard work,” said head coach Nick Dimitrievski. “There’s a lot of parity developing in [the USCAA] and we’ve learned that if we keep doing the right thing, good things will happen.”
The number one seed was particularly important for the Bobcats to grab as they search for their first National Championship since 2001. The last two USCAA National Champions are both in the tournament field, with back-to-back defending champions Florida National set to face 2015 and 2016 champions University of Maine-Fort Kent.
The two recent champions will be joined by Mississippi University for Women in Pool B. Bryant & Stratton will need to defeat #4 St. Mary College of the Woods and #5 Paul Quinn College. Earning a berth in the National Championship game would mark Bryant & Stratton’s fifth-straight appearance in the title game, a feat they hope will bring about their first title in the USCAA and first since the Bobcats won the 2001 NJCAA National Championship.
The USCAA National Tournament begins on November 7 in Virginia Beach. Be sure to follow @bscbobcatssyr on Instagram and Twitter for updates on both team’s journey through the National Tournament and check the USCAA website for additional information as the tournament progresses.