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Boxer soccer goes national

Pacific caps a record-setting season with its first NWC title since 1996 and first NCAA tournament appearance since '98

The members of Pacific's men's soccer team knew they couldn't leave anything to chance this year.

Not after winning 14 games last season and finishing third in the Northwest Conference, only to be left out of the NCAA Division III tournament on Selection Sunday.

A year wiser and a year hungrier, the Boxers returned in 2010 and upped the ante with another 14-win season and the program's first NWC championship since 1996, guaranteeing Pacific - and its long-tenured, nine-player senior class - automatic admission to the Big Dance.

Pacific's season may have ended in November with a 3-1 loss to No. 1-ranked Trinity (Tex.) in the first round of the NCAA tournament, but that didn't diminish anything the Boxers accomplished this season.

'We got a tough draw going down to Trinity, but we played well in that game and I was real proud of our players' effort,' said Pacific head coach Jim Brazeau. 'We may have lost, but overall the season was a huge success. I've said it before, but at the end of the year there's only one team that's happy, and that's the team that wins the national championship.'

National championship notwithstanding, Pacific still had plenty to celebrate following the season, most notably the seven All-Northwest Conference awards the team scored last month, including senior goalkeeper Andrew Stevermer being named NWC Defensive Player of the Year for the second season in a row

Stevermer anchored a historically stingy Pacific defense that recorded 25 shutouts and allowed only 24 goals over the last two years.