The national spotlight was on the University of Mobile athletic program in the 2021 fall season, with Men’s Soccer and Men’s Cross Country making it to the highest levels in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). When the season ended, the Rams were runner-up in the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship with a talented team that included the NAIA Men’s Soccer Player of the Year, and a true freshman qualified for the 2021 NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championship meet.
Jacob Harned, a first-year freshman from Springville, Alabama, qualified for the 2021 NAIA Men’s Cross Country National Championship in his first year with the Rams, earning an individual bid to the championship meet following his top 10 placement with a time of 26:49.93 in the SSAC Conference Championship 8k.
The national meet was raced in Vancouver, Washington, on Nov. 19 as Harned and Head Coach Andy Canegitta made the long trip across the country. In the race, Harned recorded a time of 28:13.6 in the championship meet, with an average mile time of 5:41 and placing 259th out of 333 runners from over 220 NAIA programs from across the country.
Following his first season with Mobile, Harned was named to the SSAC Men’s Cross Country All-Conference Team and to the SSAC Men’s Cross Country All-Freshman team.
Led by eighth-year Head Coach Daniel Whelan, the University of Mobile Men’s Soccer program advanced to the NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship Tournament for the third-straight year during the 2021 season and the 21st time in program history. It’s the fourth time under Whelan’s leadership that the Rams have gone to nationals.
The Rams won the SSAC Regular-Season Championship during the year and earned a host bid for the opening round of the tournament. Mobile defeated the University of Houston-Victoria and the Columbia International University during the opening round to be one of 10 teams to advance to the final site of the championship tournament in Decatur, Alabama.
At the final site in Decatur, the Rams defeated Indiana Tech University and Columbia College to advance to the NAIA National Championship match for the fifth time in program history, the first since 2012. Mobile’s lone national title win came in 2002.
In the championship final against Keiser University, Mobile fell to the Seahawks 2-0 on Monday, Dec. 6. The Rams finished with an impressive 18-3-1 overall record during the season and now have an overall record of 33-20-4 in the national tournament following this year’s runner-up finish.
The awards rolled in. Daniel Whelan earned his third SSAC Men’s Soccer Coach of the Year award during the 2021 season and is a finalist for the national coach of the year honor. This season, the Rams were led by Alejo Binaghi who became the second Ram in the program’s history to be named the NAIA Men’s Soccer Player of the Year. The Buenos Aires, Argentina native was named SSAC Men’s Soccer Player of the Year, SSAC Men’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Year, the SSAC Golden Boot winner for most goals scored during the season, and was one of eight Rams selected to the SSAC First-Team All-Conference team. Binaghi was named a NAIA Men’s Soccer First-Team All-American selection and leads the nation in points recorded during the season (54) and sits second in the nation in goals scored (24). Binaghi led the NAIA in game-winning goals this season with 10.