110 minutes wasn't enough to decide the 2018 NAIA national title match between Central Methodist University and Missouri Valley College. In penalty kicks, the Eagles of CMU prevailed 4-3 to capture the first national title in school history in any sport. 2018 Kaw Valley FC alums Adrian Gutierrez and Santiago Sierra played a pivotal role for CMU in their championship run, with both earning all-conference honors and Gutierrez capturing conference Player of the Year.
(L to R) 2018 Cranes Adrian Gutierrez, Daniel Kozma, and Santiago Sierra after the CMU-Grand View match on October 14th, 2018
"This accomplishment has been building for the last three years. It was very hard but hard work pays off," Gutierrez, an all-tournament selection, said. "The summer for me was very helpful as I started the season already more in shape than other players, and I felt faster and better than last year at the same time. Following the advice from (2018 KVFC Head Coach) Istvan Urbanyi helped me play the best season that I’ve had in my three years playing college soccer."
Central Methodist entered the tournament as the third-overall seed after a 17-2-2 regular season and Heart of America regular season championship. Gutierrez was named the Conference Player and Offensive Player of the Year. The two 2018 Cranes combined for 15 goals and 18 assists during the collegiate season.
"This summer helped me learn more about the game," Sierra, an all-conference selection, said. "Istvan helped me improve and made me understand the game more. I’m looking forward to next summer."