Chris Davison knows what to expect. He's been there.
The Cayuga Community College men's soccer team's head coach was a freshman when the Spartans last made a trip to the NJCAA Division III tournament in 2014. Cayuga made the longest postseason run in program history to the semifinals.
Now, Davison believes his experience will help as the Spartans seek their first national championship.
"I don't feel any nerves by now because I've been there before, and I know the level and I know the level of my team," Davison said. "I'm happy my team is at the level to compete."
Cayuga, seeded No. 5 in the quarterfinals, begins play at 1:30 p.m. Thursday against No. 4 Camden (NJ) at Herkimer County Community College. The winner takes on either No. 1 Nassau or No. 8 Howard (MD) in the semifinals Friday.
The championship game is set for Sunday.
The Spartans are coming off one of the biggest wins in program history. Cayuga topped Herkimer 3-1 on Oct. 28 to win the Region III championship and end the Generals' 28-year streak.
"We took a few days off after the big win because we were a bit emotionally and physically tired," Davison said. "We've trained every day ever since."
The Spartans' lineup, much like the team in 2014, boasts many international players.
Cayuga's roster includes athletes from England, Germany, Spain, Ireland and more. Only one player (Nicholas Clark, Central Square) is listed from New York.
Davison himself came over to join the 2014 team from Newcastle, England. He was one of the Spartans' top offensive threats, and after graduating in 2016, continued his career at Union College in Kentucky.
Davison ruptured his Achilles and returned to England to get surgery, and decided to get into coaching.
Married to a woman from Union Springs, Davison returned to the area and was brought on as an assistant coach at Cayuga last season. This season, he took over control of the program.
Now Davison hopes his international athletes get the same exposure to four-year colleges that he did by competing in the national tournament. That and the Spartans bring home their first championship.
"The keys to victory are exactly what we worked on in practice," Davison said. "Be a team, fight for each other and stick to the game plan."