CHICAGO, IL (November 10, 2017) — After dominating their conference all season, North Park University and its top-ranked men’s soccer team will host the NCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Tournament this Sunday. It’s the first time the team has hosted the NCAA Tournament.
Having earned the top seed in their bracket after a 17-1-1 season, the North Park Vikings will enjoy a bye round as UW-Platteville faces off Saturday against Fulton, Missouri–based Westminster College. The Vikings will take on the winner of that game Sunday evening for a shot at the Sweet 16 and the possibility of hosting another round of the tourney.
The only other team to receive a first-round bye is #1-ranked Tufts University, winner of the 2016 NCAA DIII championship.
This year’s men’s soccer team boasts a diverse, international roster, with players from as far away as Sweden, Norway, Germany, and England, and as close as Chicago, Michigan, and Minnesota. One player hails from Chicago’s own Von Steuben Metro Science High School. Among them, the team speaks 12 different languages.
“I have had the pleasure of coaching some amazing teams at North Park,” Coach John Born said. “However, the 2017 team is unparalleled in their talent as well as team chemistry.”
The NCAA national committee announced the tournament seeding and hosting sites earlier this week.
“Being selected as a host site and rewarded with a first-round bye is a phenomenal honor,” Born said. “We’ll do our very best to represent North Park throughout the tournament. We certainly know that the entire North Park community is behind us, and we appreciate the tremendous support.”
The team has clearly benefited from North Park’s “strong cultural heritage” tying it to Sweden and Norway since the school’s founding over 125 years ago, said NPU athletic director Jack Surridge. Scandinavians feel comfortable and welcome here, as 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.
Founded in 1891 by the Evangelical Covenant Church, North Park University is located on Chicago’s north side and enrolls 3,200 students from around the world.