Herkimer, N.Y. - The NJCAA DIII Tournament week has arrived with the best men's and women's soccer teams in the country battling for a national title, beginning Thursday.
On the women's side, the Generals enter as the No. 4 seed at 16-1 overall. Their lone loss of the season came against the No. 3 seed, MVCC Hawks, who are 17-0 this season, back on October 2.
Despite the disappointment of dropping their only game of the year to their local rivals, the Generals have used it as a learning experience heading into a tough weekend coming up.
"We said the whole year we want to keep getting better and better so that when we hit the national tournament hopefully that’s when we’re at our best," said Generals women's soccer head coach Jason Palkovic. "I think everything that we’ve gone through, we’ve done just that."
For the Herkimer men's team, it's been another memorable season thus far, they come into the national tournament at 18-0 overall, where they have outscored opponents an astronomical 108-7.
They, too, did face a challenge in the regional finals though, requiring overtime to get past Erie to take the Region III crown and advance to this point, and said that test will help them be more prepared against the tougher opponents coming up.
Last season, the Generals men's team missed the national tournament for the first time in 28 years. Bouncing back and getting into this year's dance, especially with their school hosting it, has been a motivating factor all season long.
"Last year, the tournament was here and we weren't part of it," said Generals men's soccer head coach Pepe Aragon. "We saw the teams practicing and playing games, so we appreciate being back here for the national tournament. To have that home field advantage too where, to be able to have our students, our faculty, community members and our families be able to watch the game is definitely a huge help."
The Generals men's team takes on Emory Oxford, out of Georgia, Thursday at 4 p.m. in the quarterfinals.
The women's tournament is at Tompkins Cortland Community College where Herkimer takes on Brookdale, of New Jersey, at 1 p.m. before Mohawk Valley faces Nassau, of Long Island, N.Y., at 6 p.m.