Finlandia soccer to host ACAA Tournament
HANCOCK — The Finlandia Lions men’s and women’s soccer teams will host the American Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament at McAfee Field on Saturday.
Both teams will face top seed Thomas More. The Saints women’s team is 5-11-1 overall and their men’s team is 4-9-2 overall.
Both Lions teams will look to take advantage of this rare opportunity of playing at home with their own fans.
“This is kind of a new event for us (that) goes on a rotational basis for hosting, and we were lucky enough to get both soccer (teams) here this year,” said woman’s coach Jordan Andrews, “which is awesome because it’s my first year coaching the women, (who) haven’t had an opportunity to play in the postseason in quite awhile.”
Playing at home should give the women’s team, who has had the best season in school history, lots to be happy about.
“It’s a good opportunity (because) we get to sleep in our own beds,” Andrews said. “We get to play on the field that we practice on everyday, (so) there’s some advantages that go along with that. It’s definitely a big advantage, especially with a game (that involves) lots of running (and) cardiovascular work. When you’re traveling, it takes some of the energy out of you.”
“When we do play at home, we’re just that much better,” said Andrews. “As you can see, this year we’re undefeated at home. (We’re) hoping to keep that going (because) we’ve faulterd a couple of times on the road and that’s because the travel can get to you.
“At home, where we can control the environment (because) we’re playing on turf (that) the girls are used to, they get to sleep in their own beds. Hopefully it’s an advantage for us.”
The Saints may prove to be a difficult opponent, but coach Andrews has prepared his team for this all season. The Lions are 11-2-1 overall this season, and that is proof that hard work pays off.
“I told the girls throughout the year that we’re preparing every game and using every game as a test for the tournament,” he said. “They’ve had a lot of learning lessons. We’ve had our successes too. Hopefully, every game that will help us in this conference tournament witch is going to be very difficult.”
“I think we’re well prepared,” said Andrews. “The girls have played (a) Division ll team (along with) some hard Division lll teams. I think all of our experiences, (along with) the success of our season, is going to benefit us in the conference tournament just because we’ve had a variety of experiences.”
The ten freshmen on the roster nearly have a full season of Division lll play under their belt and that has prepared the team for their final games of the season.
“We have a very a young group, (but) we have strong leadership,” said Andrews “Our goalie’s a senior. We have (players) off the bench, so I think the whole group has bought into this conference tournament. They want to put (on) a good showing for the fans and their families at home (because) you don’t get this opportunity very often. Hopefully we (can) take advantage of it.”
The Lions men’s team comes into the tournament with a record of 1-13-1 overall. Osvaldo Cruz and Junior Espino lead the team in scoring with two goals each.
The women’s game Saturday is at 10 a.m. The men will play at 4 p.m.