Entering the season many believed that this would be a rebuilding season for the Triton College men's soccer program. Tom Cholewa stepped down as head coach after a successful four-year run and handed the reins to his assistant, Piotr Sliwa, who took over the top job.
But instead of rebuilding, the Trojans reloaded. Despite not being nationally ranked all season long, the Trojans even exceeded the expectations of their first-year head coach by advancing to their third NJCAA national tournament (www.njcaa.org) in the last five years after an exciting 2-1 overtime win over Anoka-Ramsey Community College (Minn.) on Oct. 27 at Dominican University in River Forest to claim the District C championship.
"Making the national tournament this season definitely surpassed my expectations," Sliwa said. "But I give the guys all the credit; they worked really hard at practice and got better with each game. Now we have a week to prepare and know we'll be ready to compete at nationals."
The Trojans have won 13 straight games after losing their season opener to College of DuPage and will play Suffolk County Community College out of Sheldon, N.Y. in a national quarterfinal game on Thursday, Nov. 7 at 5:30 CST in Herkimer, N.Y. The Sharks are currently ranked fourth in the nation with a 17-2 record.
However, ranking has not phased Triton who played a 103-minute match against an Anoka-Ramsey squad who was ranked ninth in NJCAA Division III poll. The Trojans struck first in the 35th minute as Brian Tapia (Morton) found the back of the net off an assist from Rolando Zuniga (St. Joseph).
Triton did its best to protect the one-goal advantage but the Rams who controlled play most of the second half got the equalizer with 19 minutes to play. The Anoka-Ramsey goal was the first tally allowed in the last five games by the Trojans.
In the first 10-minute overtime session, goalie Mateusz Nosek (Steinmetz) made a pair of saves to keep the game tied. The stellar play in goal by Nosek who recorded 11 saves gave the Triton offense their chance as Piotr Franczek (Leyden) scored the game-winner in the 103rd minute off a terrific set-up by All-American candidate Gewargis Samuel (Mather) which sparked a mass celebration on the field.
The district title topped off a week which saw Triton win an unprecedented fifth consecutive Region IV title on Oct. 24 in Buffalo Grove by virtue of a 4-0 win over Joliet Junior College. The regional championship run surpassed the mark by Trojans teams from 1985-88.
For more information on Triton College Athletics, visit www.triton.edu/athletics or call Athletic Director Harry McGinnis at (708) 456-0300, Ext. 3784.
EXTRA: Watch Triton men's soccer team celebrate their victory over Anoka-Ramsey: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqIb47KRiZM&feature=g-upl