Men’s soccer clinches first national tournament bid

After setting a school record for wins in 2010, what would the Mount Mercy men’s soccer team do for an encore? How about clinch the first Midwest Collegiate Conference title and NAIA national tournament berth in school history?

A golden goal by sophomore midfielder Juan Maffey four minutes into overtime gave the Mustangs a 2-1 victory over sixth-ranked Grand View to earn a share of their first regular season conference title.

Top-seeded Mount Mercy opened the MCC Tournament with a 6-1 win over eighth-seeded Iowa Wesleyan, then it was Maffey to the rescue again, tying the Mustangs’ semifinal against fifth-seeded Viterbo (Wis.) in the 81st minute. After two scoreless overtimes, senior goalkeeper Josh Putz stopped two V-Hawk penalty kicks and it was on to the MCC championship game.

And that’s where things got a little crazy. Mount Mercy trailed third-seeded Ashford, 3-0, with only 16 minutes left in the match, but managed to score four times in a span of 10 minutes to defeat the stunned Saints, 4-3, at Lower Kingston Field.

The Mustangs took a 10-game unbeaten streak into the 53rd Annual NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship, where they drew defending national champion Hastings (Neb.) in the opening round. Mount Mercy battled the Broncos for 90 minutes before losing to the eventual national runner-up, 2-0.

Mount Mercy finished the season ranked 25th in the NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Top 25 Poll and Head Coach Amir Hadzic and five Mustangs picked up postseason awards. Hadzic was the MCC Coach of the Year for the second year in a row after the team finished 12-6-3 overall. The squad’s 27 victories over the last two seasons is the highest win total for any two-year period in school history.

Maffey, Putz and senior defender Jay Petersen were first-team all-conference selections, while junior forwards Enrique Cortina and Matt Rumery garnered honorable mention. Maffey shared the team lead with 10 goals. Petersen and Putz spearheaded the Mustangs defense. Putz was a two-time MCC Defensive Player of the Week and was the NAIA Defensive Player of the Week for Oct. 24. He was 8-1-2 with three shutouts.