For the first time in school history, the Cardinals are the regular season GLIAC champions – but they don’t plan on stopping there.
SVSU wrapped up its regular season Saturday with a 2-1 non-conference win over Malone, and the team’s first place finish earned it the top seed and home field advantage in this weekend’s conference tournament.
“This was our first goal for this year, and we feel good about it,” said head coach Cale Wassermann. “Home field advantage for the conference tournament is big; we get to play in front of our own fans, get all of our parents and students and fans at the game.”
The top four teams from the regular season qualify for the GLIAC Championships. There will be two semifinal games played on Thursday, and the championship game will take place on Saturday.
Ohio Dominican is the second seed behind SVSU and will play Northwood, the third seed. SVSU’s first round opponent will be Tiffin, which clinched the number four seed in the tournament.
Regardless of the competition, Wasserman said that the team always focuses on its own preparations before it starts to game plan for its opponent.
“We always look at ourselves first,” Wassermann said. “How we’re playing that week and what we want to do, and then we look at our opponents.”
SVSU, which was chosen to finish fifth in the GLIAC in the preseason coaches poll, has beaten Tiffin twice this season — a 1-0 victory on Sept. 16 and a 2-0 win on Oct. 20 — but Wassermann stressed that success against a team in the regular season doesn’t always lead to easy post-season victories.
“It’s good to have some experience against teams, but it’s tough to beat a team three times in a row, and it’s tough to continually have success against a team,” Wassermann said. “The other team we face is going to know our secrets just as much as we know theirs, so it comes down to execution on any given day.”
With an overall record of 12-3-3, SVSU ranks No. 21 in the nation and No. 2 in the Midwest Region. The top four teams from each region make it to the NCAA playoffs, but with a recent loss to Northwood, the Cardinals face the chance of being knocked out of the top four.
“[The loss to Northwood] could affect our chances big time,” Wassermann said. “We’re hoping that we’ve put ourselves in a good enough position as far as our overall record and our ranking at this point that when the committee meets again this week, they will keep us in the top four.”
An NCAA tournament berth would be another first for the program, and Wassermann is hoping that a successful weekend will carry the team into the record books yet again.
“We definitely want to be in there; we want to have a spot fighting for the national championship,” Wassermann said. “We’ll be ready to compete if we give ourselves that chance by winning our next couple of games.”
SVSU faces Tiffin at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3.