Menlo men set to open NAIA soccer tournament in Salem


After winning the school's first Golden State Athletic Conference championship in any sport, the Menlo College men's soccer team travels to Oregon to take on Corban University in the first round of the NAIA national tournament. Saturday's game starts at 1 p.m. at Willamette University's Sparks Field in Salem.

This marks the second time in program history that the Oaks (15-4-1) reached the national tournament, and the first since 2011. Menlo was bounced out in the first round after a heart-breaking double-overtime loss to Southern Polytechnic State University.

Luis Nunez
For the Warriors, they have made the opening round each of the past four seasons only to lose in their first contest. Last season, the Warriors dropped a match to Biola University in the opening round.

This meeting marks the second time the two programs square off, with the last occurring in 2014. At the time, Corban was receiving votes in the national polls but was not yet in the top 25. In that contest, the Warriors shut out the Oaks by a final of 3-0 in a neutral site game to open the season.

This game features plenty of intrigue, with both teams in the top 25 in the national polls (No. 25 Menlo and No. 12 Corban). Menlo College is 4-0 against teams that in the top-25, including the GSAC championship game against Westmont College. This match also features two teams that were highlighted by blistering offenses during the regular season.

While Corban scored 58 goals during a 19-2 season, Menlo racked up 53 of its own. Timur Zhivedze leads the charge for the Warriors, and it is no surprise why he earned Cascade Collegiate Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors: 21 goals, 11 assists, 53 total points. Clearly the man in charge for the Warriors, they still have some depth: four other players registered four or more goals, and four more with at least 4 assists.

Menlo scoring is led by Erik Emanuelsson and Luis Nunez, who have scored 10 and 11 goals, respectively, on the year, and both found the back of the net in the title game. Ryan Onizuka added 9 goals with 7 assists and Eli Bunton scored 7 times while contributing on 6 others. One thing Menlo does particularly well on offense is turning their shots into goals: 18.6% of the 285 shots taken resulted in goals, while the opposition scored on just 8.7% of shots.

In the net, Jordan Farr started all 21 games for the Warriors, and he was stellar, allowing just 16 goals, including nine shutouts, for a 0.77 goals against average, making 90 saves, and recording a save percentage of 84.9.

Alex Coates-McDowall has been spectacular in his own right for the Oaks. He started 16 of the games on the Menlo schedule and allowed just 16 goals, leading to a 0.975 goals against average. He recorded 71 saves and an 81.6 save percentage, while his 7 shutouts were the most in a single-season in Menlo College history.

Taking the trip? Ticket prices are as follows:

Adults - $8

Students - $5

Ages 5 and Under -- free

You can also stream the game live at PLEASE NOTE: as this is an NAIA national playoff game, it will cost $7.95 to stream.

— Menlo Athletics

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