It is the goal for every sports team to play for a championship at the end of their season, and this year the men’s soccer team and both the men and women’s cross country team did exactly that. The men of the TFC soccer team advanced to nationals for the first time since the 2006 season with stunning play in the regional tournament, while the cross country teams have become something of a regular in their national competition. While none of these teams were able to come out of nationals in first place, they all played hard and represented our school with the excellent attitude and sportsmanship that they have shown all year.
The men’s soccer team ended their season on a strong note, finishing the year with a record of 7-14-2, including the regional and national tournaments. Seven of those losses came by only one goal however, as the team played hard and had a chance to win a majority of their games. The team finished 2-2 in their region, earning them the #2 seed in the regional tournament. They advanced to the championship found by beating Trinity Baptist College 3-0, which earned them a rematch with Clearwater Christian in the finals, who they had lost to twice already this year. The team really came together and played their best game of the year, and they managed to beat Clearwater 1-0, causing them to advance to nationals for the first time since 2006. Head Coach Rob Worsley believed the Clearwater game to be the high point of the season, saying that it was “One of the greatest games I’ve seen, not just because we won, but how we won.” This victory granted the Eagles a #7 seed in the national tournament, and they lost a tough first game to Northland International University, the #2 seed, by a score of 3-0. Their next game came against #3 seeded Providence College University, where once again, they were in it till the end, losing 1-0. They wrapped up their national play with a match against Baptist Bible College, who they tied 3-3, and finished their trip 7th overall. Even though this is not what they hoped for going into the tournament, the team will still be awarded for advancing to nationals, and Coach Worsley believes the experience his players gained will help them to get back there in the years to come.
The men and women’s cross country team’s both made it back to nationals this year, and both teams competed hard and came away with an excellent finishing time. According to the NCCAA, it was the largest and most competitive race for the men and the women. The Lady Eagles ended up in 3rd place overall out of eleven teams from their division, finishing with the fastest time ever for their squad in this their ninth national race. The team finished with an overall time of 1:53:07, improving their total from last year’s race by nearly six minutes, and also finishing only six minutes behind the 2nd place school, Moody Bible Institute. Junior Alisha Carlson led the way for the squad by finishing 8th out of 44 runners, with a personal best time of 21:17, which is an average of 6:52 per mile. Another notable performance was sophomore Clessie Kendrick, who finished just after Carlson with a time of 21:20, good for 9th overall and an average time of 6:53 per mile. The men finished in 5th place overall according to the points system used for the national tournament, despite finishing with the 3rd best time. The team beat North Central University for the first time in six years, as they ended the race with an overall time four minutes better than NCU. The Eagles were led by sophomore Sam Burnett, who came in 11th place out of 61 runners with a time of 29:48, for an average of 5:59 per mile. Senior Ben Pigott also ran well despite coming off an injury that had kept him sidelined for a month, as he finished with a time of 30:20, averaging 6:06 per mile, which earned him 17th place overall. Both teams will be losing key runners next year, with the women’s losing one of its top five, and the men’s losing three seniors and one transfer, but Head Coach Dale Garside is looking forward to the returning runners and new freshman coming in for next season.