The number two seeded Northwestern College men’s soccer team snuffed out no. 4 seeded Morningside 2-1 to win the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) championship on Thursday, November 9. The Raiders (15-4-2, 8-1-2 GPAC) snatched their banner to enter the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) tournament.
The riveting game enthralled the home crowd. Senior Gerard Uamai (Dundalk, Republic of Ireland) was assisted by senior Marco Alessio’s (Chioggia, Italy) free kick in the first half to head the ball into the goal. Uamai was proud of his team’s success.
“I don’t score headers often, but I did when it mattered, so that would be my favorite [moment]… and the celebrations with my brothers,” said Uamai.
In 37 games, Uamai has scored 17 points and completed one assist. Before the match, the team agreed to be relentless competitors. After half, the Raiders quickly scored again.
Freshman Bongkefon Kumla (Falkansee, Germany) broke some Morningside ankles on the defensive before giving up the ball to 5’10 forward Junior Stan van den Beld (Voorhout, Netherlands). This was Kumla’s first career assist to help van den Beld seal the deal with a goal.
Van den Beld has played 59 games and has scored 55 points during his NW career. Other key players of the season have been 6’2 goalee Pablo Aspas Mejias (Valencia, Spain).
“The two goals were key moments, but… I believe what truly made the difference was our attitude. We managed to create a very powerful bond among us; we are brothers, we are family, and we fought until the end, giving all for each other,” said Mejias.
His season high of nine saves was against Dakota Wesleyan on Oct. 4. The championship was the pinnacle of many seasons since the trophy had not been won since 2007.
Senior Adam De Boer is proud of his team’s unity, which is often considered a brotherhood by players.
“Going to nationals feels like the perfect way to end the season, and many of our careers. This group of seniors is special, and we hope to continue to add to our legacy by getting a result at the national tournament,” said De Boer.
The team found out their location for the first round on Nov. 13. They will practice with more determination now that “every game could be the last one.”