Henrik Sohn doesn’t know a great deal about the William Carey women’s soccer team but is quite certain the Lady Crusaders are no slouch.
“They went to (NAIA) national championship game last year and lost to Tennessee Southern on penalty kicks,” he said. “They’re a very good side, full of international (players).”
Sohn and his Kansas Wesleyan team, though, are eager to travel to Hattiesburg, Miss. to play No. 6-ranked WCU on its home pitch at 2 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the NAIA Women’s Championship.
The NAIA announced 40-team field Monday morning.
“Anyone that’s in the field right now is a very strong team so it didn’t really matter who you play, you’re going to play a quality opponent,” Sohn said. “And that’s what we’re going to face – William Carey, a very good team.
“We’re thankful that we’re still playing, we’re on borrowed time right now and we appreciate that we get the chance to go to the national tournament.”
KWU gained a berth after Oklahoma Wesleyan won the Kansas Conference’s regular season title and the postseason tournament championship. The Coyotes finished second in the regular season and received the KCAC’s second automatic bid.
The Coyotes (11-7-1) are the fourth seeded and William Carey (15-2-1) the top seed in the Hattiesburg Bracket. Columbia, Mo. is seeded second and Taylor, Ind. third. The two winners play this Saturday for a right to advance to the final site November 29-December 3 in Orange Beach, Ala.
Sohn appreciates the opportunity, something that didn’t appear likely early in the season.
“You’ve got to put in perspective how we turned things around,” he said. “In the middle of September, we were 0-5, it didn’t look like we could do much this year and we rallied back to a 10-1 record in the conference.”
The Coyotes got untracked with nine consecutive victories after opening with the five losses.
“I said it to the players the other day, I’ve been part of some championship teams, I’ve won a lot in my career,” Sohn said. “But this team, the resilience it had, is something I’m the most proud of. I’m proud of the amount of guts they had, the way we came back and the way we fought every single game to get us to where we are.”
“I am so proud of these young ladies and that’s something that will stay with me as a coach and hope will stay with them as individuals the rest of their lives. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”
William Carey has won 11 in a row and is 6-0 in Hattiesburg.
“If we play to our ability, I think we can compete with anyone in the nation and that’s what we’re going to do,” Sohn said. “We’re going to go down there and play our game and see what happens.”