Sandburg Soccer Ends Historic Season With 1-0 Loss to No. 1 Knights in NJCAA D2 Tourney

WICHITA, Kan. — The Carl Sandburg College men’s soccer team went toe-to-toe with the top seed and No. 1-ranked team in the country, but the Chargers fell just short of advancing in the NJCAA Division II Championship with a 1-0 loss to CCBC Essex on Wednesday in their final pool play match.

The eighth-seeded Chargers (16-5) were eliminated to end a historic season that included the program’s first trip to nationals, a school record for victories and a program-best national ranking.

With the victory, top-seeded Essex (18-1), the defending national runner-up, won Pool A with six points and a 2-0 record to advance to Friday’s semifinals. All three games played in the pool were decided by one goal.

The Knights scored the lone goal of Wednesday’s match in the 60th minute on a corner kick. Andy Portillo sent the corner into the top of the goal area, and Riku Kawano headed it down and between the feet of Chargers keeper Ben Hilton (West Sussex, England/Crawley Town Academy).

Sandburg put half of its eight shots on frame, but the Chargers were unable to convert on a windy day with gusts over 25 miles per hour at the Stryker Sports Complex.

The contest went into halftime scoreless thanks to two impressive saves by Hilton. In the fifth minute, an Essex shot attempt in the goal area was deflected, and Hilton, already moving to his right, made a lunge back with his left foot to kick it away from the net. The Knights had a free kick from about 25 yards out in the final 5 seconds of the first half, and Hilton made a diving play to his right to keep the attempt from going into the top corner. 

Sandburg finished the tournament with a 1-1 record, with Tuesday’s overtime victory over Heartland marking the first win for any Sandburg team at a national tournament since 2008. The Chargers end the year with their first-ever appearance at nationals, a school-best 16 victories and they appeared in all 11 weeks of the national rankings. They were as high as No. 7 on a pair of occasions, the best ranking in program history, and were 12th in the final regular season poll. 


Final Pool A standings
No. 1 CCBC Essex        2-0-0   6 points
No. 8 Sandburg           1-1-0   3 points
No. 12 Heartland        0-2-0   0 points
Pool A Results
Monday — CCBC Essex 1, Heartland 0
Tuesday — Sandburg 2, Heartland 1 (OT)
Wednesday — CCBC Essex 1, Sandburg 0 


Get text/email notifications of Sandburg Athletics results

Follow @SandburgNJCAA on Twitter

Like @SandburgChargers on Facebook

Follow @SandburgChargers on Instagram