FULTON, Mo. – Westminster men's soccer will head to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth year in a row after the 2-1 win over Principia in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.
"I am super proud of our guys," said Westminster Head Coach Adam Galla. "We've had a ton of injuries this year and we've battled through."
Westminster entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed. After dropping three straight conference games in the middle of the season, the squad came back to tally a tie and a win to end the regular season.
"We really had to get points towards the end of the season, and since we've been here before we knew what to do," said Galla. "We needed to limit mistakes and capitalize on opportunities and they fought and believed."
The Blue Jays struck first in the match after just over six minutes of play on a goal from Mauricio Mateo. After drawing a foul from outside the top of the box, Mateo was given the chance on the free kick and found the back of the net. The rest of the first half remained scoreless in a defensive battle between Westminster and the Panthers.
Westminster scored again in the 65th minute on a goal from Brent Lampen, just his second of the season.
Despite the 2-0 lead, Principia fought to remain in the game. A penalty kick in the 80th minute gave them life in the remaining 10 minutes, but the Westminster defense remained impenetrable to close out the game with a win.
Connor Bandre' was named the Tournament Most Valuable Player after making 10 saves in two games and allowing just one goal in 180 minutes of play. Patrick Bromstedt, Austin Chandler, and Joshua Udinyiwe were also named to the All-Tournament team for Westminster.
Despite entering the tournament as the No. 4 seed, Westminster overcame to higher-seeded opponents to ultimately claim its fifth consecutive SLIAC Tournament title, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, with first rounds beginning Nov. 10-11.
"Fontbonne and Principia are both quality sides," said Galla. "We had to battle two tough opponents to get to this point, and we give credit to them for their strong performances."
Westminster will face Wisconsin-Platteville Saturday at 5 p.m. at North Park University. The winner will play North Park Sunday at 5 p.m.