November 9, 2023 | SPORTS | By Seth Jahraus
For the first time since 2019, the Colorado College Men’s Soccer Team is participating in the NCAA Division III Tournament. The tournament acceptance follows CC’s Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season championship win, made possible by their historic 8-0 conference record. This is the first Tiger team that has gone undefeated and tieless in the conference and the conference’s first team since 2014 to do so.
Head coach Scott Palguta summarizes the reasoning behind the team’s success in one word, “consistency.” According to Palguta, the team had to navigate several trials and tribulations throughout the year. Colorado College is the only Division III team in the Mountain Daylight Time zone, forcing its players to adhere to an unconventional travel schedule.
The long journeys especially take a toll when working as an academic on the Block Plan. Yet, Palguta believes the team hasn’t faltered.“[You] just find a way to push it all aside and show up to training every day and put in a good effort, and I think this group has done a fantastic job of that,” Palguta said.
The Tigers collected several accolades in addition to their team’s regular season championship win. Curtis Hale ’25, whose leadership and defensive abilities have been instrumental to the team’s success, won his second-straight conference defensive player of the year award. The Tigers also claimed two other major conference awards with Jack Hilliard’s ’27 Newcomer of the Year honors and Palguta’s second career Coach of the Year award.
The Tigers’ successful season led them to a first seed placement into the conference tournament, marking their 13th straight appearance. The tournament took place last Friday where they played the fourth seeded University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. The Tigers lost in a close 2-1 game with Curtis Hale being the lone scorer. St. Thomas went on to defeat Trinity College in the final to claim their third straight conference tournament win.
Despite their loss, the Tigers managed to earn a spot in the NCAA Division III Championship, going through alongside fellow conference members, Trinity and St. Thomas. The Tigers play their first game on Saturday in Atlanta against Oglethorpe University. With this being Colorado College’s first NCAA Division III tournament appearance since 2019, no current roster members have experienced the competition firsthand.
Yet, Coach Palguta doesn’t see the lack of experience being a factor this weekend.“Having NCAA tournament experience and an older team, I suppose that has its benefits, but you don’t know what you don’t know,” Palguta said.
Palguta also believes that the conference semi-final loss will have little to no impact on the team’s morale and performance. “In sports, if you’re going to be successful you have to have a short memory,” he said.
It has proven extremely difficult to qualify for the national tournament out of the conference, even with exceedingly successful records. CC failed to qualify with an undefeated conference record last year. The Tigers will be working on a much larger stage in Atlanta than they have been during the regular season.
However, the team and coaching staff are hoping to not change a thing heading into this weekend. With a “consistency” mentality, Palguta and the team are hoping to continue the ten-game hot streak they accumulated during the regular season.“You treat it just like any other game,” Palguta said. “We’ll prepare the same way, we’ll eat the same food, we’ll sleep the same way and show up on Saturday.”
With a win against Oglethorpe, CC will look to play Emory University or Brevard College in Atlanta on Sunday. Winning both the regular season championship and Southern Athletic Association tournament, Oglethorpe is looking to provide tough competition this Saturday for CC. The Stormy Petrels finished the regular season 14-2-2 with goalkeeper Nicolas Mejia leading the way and setting a school record for 12 individual shutouts.
If the Tigers were to extend their season further, they would look to play in the final on Dec. 3, in Salem, Virginia. In order to get to that point, CC will surely need to look towards the key players in their arsenal. Hale will need to continue playing at the level of a defensive player of the year while also showing his leadership capabilities.
Look for excellence in CC’s other game changing players such as sophomore goalkeeper Jasper Broad. Broad has 45 saves on the season, awarding him an astounding 75% save percentage. Oliver Ramirez ’26 and Connor Webster ’26 will be influential characters as well as both leading the team in goals and should hope to extend their number in this weekend’s tournament.
The Tigers certainly have a tough schedule ahead yet should expect success if they keep consistency and drive in mind.