NCAA Preview: Transylvania men's soccer faces Carleton College in Chicago in Saturday's First Round match

Men's soccer tournament preview


Chicago, Ill. – The Transylvania men's soccer team will look to continue a successful 2018 campaign this weekend as it faces the Carleton College Knights in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Soccer Tournament on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern time at the University of Chicago's Stagg Field.

The Pioneers carry an overall record of 8-4-6 into this year's NCAA Tournament matchup with Carleton, which sports a 15-1-3 overall record. The Knights took second place in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season table with a MIAC record of 7-1-2.

Transylvania clinched its second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth by defeating the Hanover College Panthers on penalty kicks, 3-1 this past Saturday in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship match after playing to a 1-1 draw in regulation.

The Pioneers are making their ninth trip to the NCAA Tournament in Program history and currently hold a record of 5-8 in tournament play. The Pioneers' most successful tournament run came in 2009 when the team advanced to the Elite 8 before falling to Calvin College in penalty kicks.

Transylvania's first-round matchup pits the Pioneers against the Knights, who earned the MIAC's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Carleton completed a 14-1-3 run through the regular season, including a 7-1-2 showing in conference play. The Knights are currently on a 15-match unbeaten streak that dates back to their only defeat of the season, a 2-0 loss to Gustavus Adolphus College on September 12.

This marks the first-ever NCAA Tournament meeting between Transylvania and Carleton.

The winner of Saturday's 6:00 p.m. eastern time first-round match will advance to play Sunday at 6:00 p.m. eastern time in the second round versus the host University of Chicago Maroons, who received one of two first-round byes in the 62-team field.

Transylvania is led by midfielder Alex Shkraba, whose six goals lead the Pioneers and ranks 10th in the HCAC this season, which helped the junior earn All-HCAC First Team honors. Also providing offensive support are senior midfielder Thomas Shellenberg and junior forward Charlie Wend. Shkraba recorded a brace in the Pioneers' 6-2 victory over Mt. St. Joseph on October 10, while Shellenberg provided Transylvania's lone goal in a thrilling 1-1 draw with Ohio Northern on September 1.

Led by sophomore Zach Hill and freshmen Jak Birdsong and Jon Bloch, the Pioneers boast a formidable defense that has held opponents to just 1.08 goals per game this season. For his efforts on the back line, Hill was named to the All-HCAC First Team this week.

Junior goalkeeper Drew Grisham has provided stellar play in net for the Pioneers all season. Grisham finished atop the HCAC in save percentage with a mark of .797 and posted a 0.93 goals-against-average which ranked second in the conference. The junior capped off a solid HCAC run by tallying four combined stops in the Pioneers' pair of shootout victories in last week's HCAC Tournament.

Carleton carries a formidable defense which ranks 6th nationally in goals-against average, giving up just 0.45 goals per game. The Knights also average 21 shots per game, placing them 11th in the nation in that category.

The Knights are led offensively by freshman midfielder Marco da Cunha, who has scored 11 goals on the year. Sophomore Aaron Forman stands in goal for the Knights, and ranks 9th in the country in goals-against average with 0.48 goals allowed per contest.

Admissions for fans attending the match at Stagg Field are $7.50 for adults, $5 for students and seniors aged 62 and above, and $3 for children under 12. Admission is free for children two years and under.

LIVE VIDEO LINK - Carleton vs. Transylvania, 6:00 PM Saturday

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