Lutes to Face Redlands in NCAA Tournament Opener
Pacific Lutheran will travel to Southern California this week to face the University of Redlands at 5 p.m. Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship tournament.
PLU makes its first-ever NCAA Division III national tournament appearance with a 15-3 overall record after finishing as co-champion of the Northwest Conference. The Lutes earned the NWC's automatic berth in the tournament by virtue of beating fellow co-champion Whitworth by 1-0 scores in its two head-to-head contests. PLU is one of 41 teams in the 61-team tournament who earned automatic qualification into the tournament as a result of winning their regular season or conference tournament titles.
NCAA tournament-tested Redlands comes into the match with an 18-3-1 overall record, but had to receive one of 20 at-large bids after losing the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) postseason tournament to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in a shootout on Saturday.
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (14-5-1) will face Chapman (11-4-3) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in the other half of the bracket. The winners of the first round games will meet at 5 p.m. Sunday for the right to advance to the sectional round, scheduled for Nov. 18-20.
While Pacific Lutheran is known for a prolific offense with a school-record 55 goals this season, the Lutes have nothing on Redlands. The Bulldogs make the Lutes' "prolific" 55 goals look almost pedestrian with an amazing 79 goals in 21 matches, an average of 3.76 goals per contest. They rank third in the country in that category, while PLU is 11th with its 3.06 goals per match.
Freshman Charles Izydorek leads the regular season (and unbeaten in 14 matches) SCIAC champs with 13 goals, followed by senior Cody Carlson with 12. Junior Gabe Ramirez is the "table setter" with 10 assists so far this season. Alex Laughton has contributed five goals and nine assists. In all, 19 different players have scored goals and 18 have contributed assists for the Bulldogs.
Redlands also plays great defense, allowing just 13 goals this season. It posted eight consecutive shutouts at one point and ended the season with 14 clean sheets, ranking it fifth in shutout percentage among Division III men's soccer programs. Keeper Andreas Silva played the majority of the minutes and has a 0.63 goals against average.
For Pacific Lutheran, senior forwards Spencer Augustin and Chad Kearns are a potent 1-2 punch, with senior midfielder Surafel Wodajo setting a school record with 16 assists this season. Augustin has tallied 19 goals and Kearns has added 13 for the Lutes. The defense, which has allowed 17 goals in 18 matches, is anchored by junior central defender Greg Noll and sophomore goalkeeper Joe Rayburn, who has a 0.94 goals against average.
"They look pretty explosive," PLU head coach John Yorke said of Redlands. "From what I have heard they are a very strong, fast and hard pressing type of team. They get after you both ways, on offense and on defense.
"Who we play wasn't as important as being a part of the national tournament," Yorke added. "Now that we're there, we're going to do everything we can to win and advance as far as we can in the tournament. The weather, field and type of opponent, it will be a good experience for us."
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