Top Sports Stories of 2012-13: Men's Soccer earns double championship

Benedictine becomes first HAAC school in current playoff era to win both regular-season and postseason tournament titles

  • Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Since the switch to more of an emphasis on the postseason conference tournaments combined with an opening round by the NAIA starting during the 2008-'09 season, no other member school of the HAAC has captured both the regular season and postseason titles – until the fall of 2012!

After going 5-1-1 through a very strong conference schedule, the Raven men's soccer program earned the HAAC regular season title and after beating MNU in a shootout and avenging their only HAAC loss of the season with a 2-0 win over Missouri Valley in the HAAC Tournament Championship game, head coach Rob Herringer and his Ravens became the HAAC's first double champions in the current NAIA playoff format era.

 

Not only are the Ravens the only HAAC member to win both the regular-season and postseason championships, they also become the first HAAC member to earn two regular season titles since the switch to the current playoff format for the 2008-'09 school year.

While the Ravens season concluded in the opening round, the 2012 season marked the Ravens second trip to the NAIA postseason in the last three years and also gave Benedictine its second HAAC Men's Soccer Championship banner over that same time period.

After starting the season at 2-1-2, the Ravens went on a seven-match winning streak that included a 3-0 start to HAAC play. They closed out HAAC play with wins over rival Baker University and Graceland before MNU gave them their only tie in HAAC play.

The Ravens seven-match winning streak was also impressive in that Benedictine yielded nothing to their opposition over the streak. Benedictine outscored their opponents 27-0.

The calendar turned to November and the Ravens were able to avenge their only loss and tie in HAAC play with a shootout win over MNU in the HAAC semifinals and then wrapped up the double championship with a 2-0 win over Missouri Valley in the HAAC Tournament Championship match.

The Ravens finished the season leading the NAIA in shutouts per game at .580. They finished the year with 11 shutouts, giving up just 17 goals in 19 matches. Their total shutout mark was good for third-best in the NAIA as well.

The solid season was noticed outside of the Benedictine community. After starting the season ranked at No. 19 in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches' Preseason Poll, the Ravens spent 11 of 12 weeks of the polls being released ranked inside the top 25. The one week they weren't in the top 25, they still were in the receiving votes category.

After returning to the poll during week three of the regular-season rankings, Benedictine shot back up the polls on the heels of their seven-match winning streak. As the season hit the home stretch, the Ravens cracked the Top 10 for the first time in program history when they checked in at No. 9 in the final regular season coaches' poll. Benedictine's name was listed inside the top 20 in the final eight polls and inside the top 15 for the final seven polls.

As the regular season concluded, the individual honors began to roll in for the Ravens.

Six members of the squad were named to the 2012 All-HAAC team, led by HAAC Defensive Player of the Year and MVP Fernando Galvan (Sr., Kansas City, Mo.) Galvan was joined on the first team by HAAC Offensive Player of the Year Joe Sbarro (Jr., Kansas City, Mo.) and Alex Lawrence (Sr., Overland Park).

Coach Herringer was also recognized by his peers in the HAAC and was named HAAC Coach of the Year for guiding the program to the only double championship in the current playoff format era.

Jacob Fischer (Jr., Kansas City, Mo.) and Jade Mesias (JR., Auckland City, New Zealand) were named to the second team while Kenneth Clarizio (Soph., Denver) and Troy McKerrell (Sr,. Argyll & Butte Scotland) were named to the third team.

The awards continued to roll in after the season concluded.

Galvan and Sbarro were both named as NAIA All-Americans as Galvan was among 11 first-team selections while Sbarro was among 11 selections on the second team.

The two All-America selections were the fifth and sixth such selections in the 50-plus year history of the Raven program and Galvan became just the second first-team All-America selection in program history as he joined Tom Buergler, who earned the same honor in 1975.

The final two official NAIA honors were handed out to Alex Duff (Jr., Lincoln, Neb.), who was named a 2012 Daktronics-NAIA Scholar Athlete while Paul Floersch (Soph., Omaha) was named the NAIA Champions of Character Award winner.

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) also recognized several Ravens for their efforts on the field and in the classroom.

Galvan and Sbarro were named NSCAA All-Plains first team while Lawrence was named to the second team.

Galvan was named a NSCAA/Continental Tire NAIA All-America first team while Sbarro was named to the second team.

Sbarro also earned a third award as he was named a first team NSCAA Scholar All-American. Sbarro carried a 3.33 GPA in biology while helping guide the Ravens to the double championship and an appearance in the NAIA National Tournament. Prior to the Scholar All-America honor, Sbarro was also named to the 2012 NSCAA Men's College Division All-North/Central Region team.

While the majority of the award recognition was handed out late in 2012 and early in 2013, the program still has a chance to add yet another piece of recognition to its memorable run in 2012.

Coach Herringer was recently named a finalist for the Kevin Gray Coach of the Year Award. The winners of five categories of the Kevin Gray Player of the Year Awards will be announced on July 13.

With a nine-member recruiting class joining the program in the fall and a solid core of returners coming back to campus in August, the Raven men's soccer program looks poised to keep itself on the NAIA radar for years to come.