CHICAGO, Nov. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Following a record-breaking 20-1-1 season, North Park University's Men's Soccer Team will make its first-ever appearance in the NCAA Division III Final Four tournament in Greensboro, North CarolinaDec. 1.
The team's international roster boasts players from across Europe and the U.S.
The team faces University of Chicago in a semi-final in North Carolina
This is the furthest a North Park athletic team has advanced in an NCAA Division III tournament since the school's championship men's basketball teams in the 1980s
The Vikings will take on the University of Chicago Maroons in the first game Friday. The winner of that all-Chicago matchup will then take on either Brandeis University or Messiah College in the championship game Saturday.
"We're thrilled to go to our first Final Four," Vikings Head Coach John Born said following the team's Elite 8 victory over University of St. Thomas Sunday. "It was amazing to see the support from students, faculty, staff, administration and especially former players. I'm overwhelmed by all the congratulatory messages. We're extremely excited. But we aren't done yet."
This year's team boasts a diverse, international roster, with players from as far as Sweden, Norway, Germany, and England, and as close as Chicago, Michigan, and Minnesota. One player hails from neighboring Von Stuben Metro Science High School.
The team has clearly benefited from North Park's "strong cultural heritage" tying it to Sweden and Norway since the school's founding 125 years ago, said NPU Athletic Director Jack Surridge. Scandinavians feel comfortable and welcome here, since each year NPU hosts dozens of them as students. It also doesn't hurt that Assistant Coach Kris Grahn is a Swede.
"He can pick up the phone or FaceTime with recruits in their native language," Surridge said.
Born said his staff has prepared the team for victory all season.
"We set a vision in our players' heads months ago. It went something like this – win the CCIW, host the NCAA's, win regionals/sectionals and advance to the Final Four. We do have one more goal: anyone can guess what our plan is for when we go to North Carolina. Go North Park!"