“UnFalconBelievable” was the message the Pfeiffer faithful wore on the backs of their shirts heading into the title game of the NCAA Division II men’s soccer championships on Saturday.
It’s now time to believe.
Pfeiffer (25-0-0) dominated from the start, en route to a 4-0 victory over Cal Poly Pomona to claim its first national title.
An overwhelming performance by junior Nathan Regis and a stalwart defense proved too much for the Broncos (17-3-3), who had few answers after two early Falcons goals.
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In 29 years coaching NCAA Division I powerhouse Rutgers, Bob Reasso never won a championship.
After a short retirement, it took just three years for him to lead his alma mater to an undefeated season.
“No one ever starts a season and thinks they’ll go undefeated,” Reasso said. “This is remarkable, and we’re going to enjoy this championship.”
And all of the Falcons stars should return, including goalkeeper Tomas Correa.
“The good news is we get to spend another year together,” Reasso said. “From the first guy on the team to the last guy, it will be a privilege for all of us to spend another year together.
“This means a little more to me because this is my alma mater. I’ve also coached some great teams, but this is the best group of kids I’ve coached.”
Pfeiffer is the first team to have an unblemished record since Southern Connecticut State went 20-0-0 in 1999. The only other Division II team to have a perfect season was Lock Haven in 1980.
In the title game and this season, the Falcons did it their way, with an up-tempo aggressive offense and a strong defense.
They proved they had the firepower early, as Regis and Jaime Siaj scored during the first four minutes.
The quick barrage put the Broncos on their heels the rest of the half, and they could not capitalize on their few offensive chances.
“My teammates distribute the ball and try to set up their teammates in good position,” said Regis, a junior striker from Trinidad & Tobago. “Once you share the ball, it gets back to you when it needs to. Everyone played a part in this victory.”
Regis, who led the nation with 32 goals, credited the coaches for getting the Falcons to believe they could win every game. He added another goal at the 60-minute, 44-second mark on a penalty kick.
“It’s a privilege playing with these guys,” Regis said. “I was there when coach Reasso was appointed. The program has really changed in a way you would love to see a program develop. Coach Reasso knows how to win matches and knows how to coach a team.”
Martim Galvao put the finishing touch on the victory with a goal off an assist from Siaj just two minutes after Regis scored.
Galvao said the win was a complete team effort, and one that he won’t soon forget.
“This win is all about the hard work we’ve put in all season long,” said Galvao, a sophomore midfielder. “We deserve it. It’s definitely a pleasure to play with these guys. I’m super happy and definitely super excited.”
Correa, who made two saves, hopes for even more success in seasons to come.
“As a freshman, it’s unbelievable to win 25 games and a championship,” said Correa, of Portugal. “We’re a close family, and I hope next year is going to be even better.”
Siaj, a sophomore midfielder, also was instrumental in leading the Falcons to their first title. He was gracious to the fans who came in droves to see Pfeiffer win.
“Everybody cares for each other,” said Siaj, of Spain. “Even the crowd, they all drove many hours to watch us. This was the last step of a perfect season. We made history.”