Campus Corner

Rockhurst men bid for NCAA Division II soccer title

Updated: 2013-12-04T21:57:48Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

It’s one thing to be talented. It’s a bonus to be experienced.

Rockhurst University is both, and that’s why the Hawks have advanced to the NCAA Division II soccer championship in Evans, Ga.

The semifinal game against Southern New Hampshire begins at 4 p.m. Thursday. The winner advances to Saturday’s national title game.

This is the Hawks’ first trip to soccer’s Final Four, but coach Tony Tocco’s program has been knocking on the door for the past few seasons with appearances in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. The nucleus of the team has been together in that span.

“We’ve been playing together for so long we know each other tendencies on the field,” said senior defender George Skevington, who played at St. Thomas Aquinas.

It’s also helped the team overcome adversity. In its NCAA opener against Tiffin (Ohio), Rockhurst trailed 1-0 in the second half before Jon Schreiber’s goal tied it and the Hawks won 8-7 in a shootout.

“No matter what happens to them we don’t get down or upset,” said Tocco, in his 43rd year as the program’s head coach. “That only comes with experience.”

Rockhurst, 17-3-3, enters the semifinals on an eight-game unbeaten streak. The Hawks won the Great Lakes Valley Conference championship for the second straight year, and advanced to this weekend by defeating top-ranked Lindenwood 1-0 on Paolo Scoppola’s first-half goal.

Scoppola and Mark Magee, who leads the Hawks with 15 goals, were chosen all-conference.

This marks Rockhurst’s seventh NCAA Tournament appearance. The program reached five NAIA championship games, the last in 1997.

A first national title for a tradition-rich program would “cap it all off,” Tocco said. “Not for me, but for the players who started the tradition.”

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

Deal Saver Subscribe today!

Comments

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here