MEDFORD – The Tufts University men's soccer team is making its third appearance in the NCAA Division III Championship "Final Four" this weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Head coach Josh Shapiro's Jumbos play in the national semifinals against the University of Rochester (16-2-2) today at 1:45 pm ET. The DIII men's and women's championships are being held at UNCG Soccer Stadium at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.
You can watch the game and follow live statistics at https://www.ncaa.com/game/soccer-men/d3/2018/11/30/rochester-ny-tufts.
In today's other national semifinal, Calvin (21-1) squares off against the University of Chicago (18-2-1) at 11 am. The semifinal winners will meet for the national championship on Saturday (Dec. 1) at 2:30 pm.
Weather conditions in Greensboro have improved for Friday. Earlier reports showed rain, but the current forecast calls for only cloudy skies with temperatures in the 60s. UNCG Stadium is a grass field.
The Jumbos arrived in Greensoboro on Wednesday. On Thursday, the team participated in a community engagement activity with Special Olympics and then had a practice at the stadium. That evening they dressed up and attended the National Championship Banquet at the Sherton Greensboro Hotel. Senior co-captain Sterling Weatherbie delivered the Jumbos' address as representatives from each team spoke at the event. Also during the banquet, the United Soccer Coaches All-Americans who were there were recognized including Tufts junior Joe Braun who was selected to the first team.
Tufts (16-0-3) advanced to its third Final Four with a 4-0 victory over Montclair State University at home on Bello Field in the NCAA Quarterfinals on November 18. The Jumbos scored four goals in a 25-minute span during the first half to take control of the game. Joe Braun, Gavin Tasker, Travis Van Brewer and Derek Enge scored the goals. Brett Rojas had two of the assists. The four goals were the most for Tufts in NCAA play since their 4-2 win over Wheaton (Ill.) in the 2014 NCAA Final.
In their previous Final Four appearances, the Jumbos won the national championship both times. In 2014 (Kansas City, Mo.), the Jumbos defeated Ohio Wesleyan 3-0 in the semi-finals and Wheaton (Ill.) 4-2 in the national championship game. In 2016 (Salem, Va), Tufts won 2-1 over St. Thomas (Minn.) in the semi-final and 1-0 in two overtimes against Calvin for the NCAA title.
This is the eighth tournament appearance overall for Tufts, and the team has qualified in six of the last seven years. They have an impressive 19-5-2 record in NCAA Tournament games.
The University of Rochester advanced to the Final Four for the first time in school history after posting a 2-1 victory over top-ranked Messiah College in the NCAA Division III Sectional Final on November 18. It was the first time Rochester has beaten Messiah in the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Falcons had won the first four meetings, including a 2-0 victory last year on their home field in Grantham, Pa. That sent Messiah to the Final Four and the Falcons won the NCAA title.
The 2018 sectional was supposed to return to Messiah, but a late-week snowstorm made the soccer field unplayable and the tournament was re-directed to Rochester on Thursday evening. Ulrik Koren scored the first Yellowjacket goal against Messiah, while the second was a Falcon own goal. With its four NCAA wins this fall, Rochester has a 17-15-3 mark in their 18th national tournament appearance. The Yellowjackets play in the University Athletic Association (UAA).
Tufts will be challenging to become just the fifth team in the 44-year history of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Championship to win three national titles. As it stands, they are one of nine teams in the country to win two or more.