Dragons set for Rockhurst in regional opener

So many times in recent years, Tiffin University men’s soccer coach Rudy Brownell would wait for the call.

The Dragons would have a great season, and some years, a great postseason, winning the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament.

But the call that Brownell and his players were looking for never came.

For all its success in recent seasons, TU never made the Division II regional tournament.

Never, that is, until this season.

Tiffin, which went 11-3-3 in 2013, found out Monday that it received an at-large bid to the D-II regionals for the first time. The Dragons will host Rockhurst at 1 p.m. today in the regional opener.

Brownell said he wasn’t sure if TU would be selected for regionals.

“Yes, I was confident, no I wasn’t confident,” Brownell said. “Because anytime you add human nature into the selection process, as a coach, you get a little worried. I was more confident this year than I’ve been in the past, yes.”

Tiffin faces a team in the Hawks that are 15-3-2. They are led on offense by Mark Magee, who has scored 13 goals this season, and by George Skevington, who has seven assists.

“We know Rockhurst, we talk about GLVC all the time,” Brownell said. “It’s gonna be a good game because Rockhurst is a pretty good team. You don’t go about winning your conference tournament and not be a good team.

“To be the best, you’ve got to play the best.”

Brownell said Tiffin’s team this year is not built around a star, but rather a group of players who can contribute.

Karl Jones and Smart Osadolor each have six goals to lead the Dragons, while Andre Carvalho-Landell has four goals and Ryan Johnstone three.

“That was one of our philosophies,” Brownell said. “I think that in the past, we’d depend on one player – Ashton Campbell. This year … our philosophy was ‘Listen, we play the game so that, if Smart is off, Karl’s gonna score the goal. If Karl is off, Ryan’s gonna score us a goal. If Ryan is off, [Edison Benda] is gonna score a goal.’ So we have a team that’s really versatile.”

The Dragons also have a strong goalkeeper in Jeremy Ashley, who has 61 saves this season.

“He’s started for us since his freshman year,” Brownell said. “He does a very good job for us, excellent job. My personal opinion of Jeremy is, he can play with pretty much any team, any Division I team in the country, and I’m blessed to have him on my team.”

Brownell said Friday he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to sleep the night before the game.

“I’m looking forward to it; it should be a great day,” Brownell said. “Hopefully – I will say this – I hope I can sit in my chair (today) and just enjoy it.”

Brownell also wanted to make sure to thank others at TU who have helped to make today possible.

“I want to thank people like [Athletic Director] Lonny Allen, Darby Roggow, all those guys, because its great when you have an NCAA Tournament, and you don’t have to worry,” Brownell said.