CHICAGO --- To rate a perfect score in Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's soccer, one needs to go 11-0. Such was not the case in 2013 with the top teams – Cardinal Stritch University and Olivet Nazarene University - securing only eight victories. Three other decisions for both teams resulted in either ties or losses.
A similar case was the story with seeds 2-5 with four decisions being left on the table.
In other words, the 2013 CCAC Men's Soccer Championship, which opens on Saturday afternoon, is wide open with any of the seven entries having the opportunity at the crown and the second automatic bid to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round.
No. 1 seed Cardinal Stritch (12-4-2 overall) gained the first bid to the national tournament by securing its second straight regular-season title with an 8-1-2 league mark. The Wolves, who also earned a first-round bye in the CCAC Tournament, went unbeaten in October before dropping a 2-1 overtime decision to non-conference foe Illinois Tech on Wednesday to close out regular-season play.
All four Cardinal Stritch losses came by just one goal this season.
The Wolves' only regular-season conference setback came in similar fashion, 1-0, at the hands of Robert Morris University during the first week of conference play (Sept. 28). CSU also had to settle for 1-1 ties against both No. 3 seed Judson University (13-4-1) on Oct. 8 and No. 6 seed Saint Xavier University (7-9-1) on Oct. 22.
No. 2 seed Olivet Nazarene (12-5-1), meanwhile, will be seeking to repeat as conference tournament champions after taking Cardinal Stritch to a 0-0 double-overtime contest and ultimately claiming the title in a 4-1 shootout last year. Each of the Tigers' three losses in league play this season have also been by only one goal with No. 5 seed Holy Cross College (2-1, Sept. 24), Cardinal Stritch (1-0, Oct. 16) and Robert Morris (2-1, Nov. 2) doing the honors.
If Cardinal Stritch manages to get through the gauntlet of this year's tournament, the conference's second bid to the national tournament goes to Olivet Nazarene University as the second-place finisher during the regular season.
Cardinal Stritch will face the winner of the Holy Cross/Roosevelt University match, which will be played at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Holy Cross enters at 12-6 with No. 4 seed Roosevelt coming in at 12-5-1. Both teams finished 7-4 in league play with Roosevelt gaining the higher seed by virtue of a 2-1 win over Holy Cross on Oct. 19.
On the other side of the bracket, Olivet Nazarene will host No. 7 seed Calumet College of St. Joseph (9-9). That game is slated to start at 4 p.m. on Saturday. That winner will square off against the winner of the match between No. 6 Saint Xavier and No. 3 Judson, a matchup which Saint Xavier won, 4-3, during the regular season (Oct. 2).
Semifinal round games take place at Cardinal Stritch and the site of the other highest remaining seed on Wednesday, Nov. 13, with the tournament championship slated for Nov. 16 again at the site of the highest remaining seed.
The complete schedule follows:
Saturday, Nov. 9 - First Round
• Game #1: No. 5 Holy Cross (12-6) at No. 4 Roosevelt (12-5-1), 1:30 p.m.
• Game #2: No. 6 Saint Xavier (7-9-1) at No. 3 Judson (13-4-1), Time TBA
• Game #3: No. 7 Calumet St. Joseph (9-9) at No. 2 Olivet Nazarene (12-5-1), 4 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 13 - Semifinal Round
• Game #4: Winner-Game #1 at No. 1 Cardinal Stritch (12-4-1)
• Game #5: Winner-Game #2 vs. Winner-Game #3 --- TBA (at site of highest remaining seed)
Saturday, Nov. 16 – Championship
• Winner-Game #4 vs. Winner-Game #5 --- TBA (at site of highest remaining seed)