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FIU and Barry soccer, MDC volley and STU football among local teams in national playoffs

FIU’s men’s soccer team is six wins away from what would be its first national title. The Panthers are ranked 22nd in the nation in Division I.

Barry’s men’s soccer team, which is ranked 15th in the country in NCAA Division II, is five victories from what would be its second national title.

The 18th-ranked St. Thomas University’s football team – which just qualified for the NAIA playoffs for the first time in program history – is also five wins away.

That’s just a taste of what’s happened on the local college sports scene from Sunday night to Monday night as a total of seven teams were officially announced as playoff bound.

That doesn’t even count Miami Dade College. The Sharks (20-5) have already started their playoff journey, and they are four wins away from what would be their 11th national title. They will play Casper (Wyoming) on Wednesday morning in Hutchinson, Kansas. This is the 22nd time in the past 24 years that MDC has reached the national finals, which consists of 16 teams.

Here’s a closer look at the other playoff participants:

FIU soccer (9-4-4) will host Mercer (7-5-8) on Thursday at 7 p.m. It’s the 13th national playoff appearance for FIU, including the past three years in a row.

“We’re thrilled,” FIU coach Kyle Russell said. “As soon as you see your name on the board, you are excited. We didn’t even care whose name popped up next.”

Four FIU players were named all-conference last week, including forward Eduardo Mustre to the first team. Making the second team were: Bernardo Dos Santos Monteiro; Joao Domingues; and Owen Travis.

Mustre led FIU in goals (11) and points (24). He ranked second in the league in goals, and it was the most scores by an FIU player since 2018.

Dos Santos was second on FIU in goals (six) and points (14). Midfielder Domingues and defender Travis helped FIU hold opponents to just 18 goals in 17 games. That’s the fewest goals FIU has allowed since 1991.

Barry soccer (12-4-1), which has won seven straight matches, will host Lincoln Memorial on Saturday.

STU football (8-3) will play host to No. 19 Reinhardt (8-2) on Saturday at noon. STU has won five in a row. Reinhardt has won seven straight.

STU is led by running back Rontavious Farmer, who ranks first in the nation in rushing yards (1,358) and second in rushing touchdowns (20).

Bill Rychel, the only coach STU has had in its brief five-year history, said his Bobcats have been playing playoff-like football for the past five weeks, following their only conference loss of the season.

“We’ve been getting better every year,” Rychel said. “We expected to get in (to the playoffs) last year when we went 9-2, but it didn’t go our way. Now that we’re here, we’re excited.”

Nova Southeastern University’s women’s soccer team (10-4-1) earned its second straight NCAA Division II tournament bid. The Sharks will play West Florida on Friday (1 p.m.) at Daytona Beach.

STU’s third-ranked men’s soccer squad (16-1-2), which reached the final 10 teams last year, is a national contender again. Their first opponent has not yet been determined.

STU’s 16th-ranked women’s soccer team (13-3-2) will travel to Tennessee on Saturday to play Cumberland. This is a rematch of the 2021 playoffs when Cumberland eliminated STU, 2-1.

STU women’s volleyball (25-2) won the Sun Conference for the second straight year, earning an automatic bid to the national playoffs. STU, ranked 22nd in the nation, has been so dominant this season that six of its players made first-team all-conference.

THIS AND THAT

Nova Southeastern University’s men’s basketball team, which won the NCAA Division II national title last season with a 36-0 record, is off to a 2-0 start, extending its win streak to 38. Despite losing its entire starting five to graduation/transfers; NSU is ranked second in the nation.

FIU women’s soccer team, led by coach Jonathan Garbar, finished their season 8-8-4. That’s the most wins by the program since 2015. In fact, it’s as many wins as FIU had in its past three years combined.

Florida Memorial’s football team went 6-4 for its first winning season since going 5-1-1 in 1958. Since the Lions brought back football four years ago, the record has improved every season: 0-3 in 2020; 2-9 in 2021; and 3-7 last season.