Down to Four: Men’s Soccer Heads to National Semifinals
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Lynn University’s men’s soccer team departs for Evans, Ga., on Tuesday to begin final preparations for the 2012 NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship. The Fighting Knights will battle Mercyhurst on Thursday, November 29, at 11 a.m. with the victor moving on to the national championship on Saturday, December 1, at 1 p.m. All games can be viewed live at LynnFightingKnights.com or NCAA.com.
This will be the second consecutive national semifinals appearances for the Blue & White following its loss to Fort Lewis in the national finals in 2011. Lynn is playing in the sixth NCAA semifinals match in program history and 13th overall dating back to its time in the NAIA. The Fighting Knights claimed national championships in 2003, 1991 and 1987 and finished as national runners-up in 2011, 1996-97, 1992-93 and 1989-90.
Lynn’s defense has been its calling card all season long as the unit of Jason Sangha, AB Magnusson, Michael Kutscher, James Aldred and Michael O’Neill boasts the third-best shutout percentage in the nation at 0.57, behind fellow Final Four participant Saginaw Valley State (0.59) and UC San Diego (0.71). The Fighting Knights, though, have the lowest team goals against average in the country at 0.42 while Matt DiCerbo is second with a 0.41 GAA.
Offensively, Jack Winter has come on as of late. The sophomore First Team All-South Region midfield selection propelled the Blue & White into the national semifinals with a two-goal outburst against Wingate in the quarterfinals, giving him seven on the season. Coupled with Julian Halder (nine goals) and Heiko Eberhardt (four goals) and the Fighting Knights have some balanced firepower.
Lynn and Mercyhurst have never faced each other as the Lakers return to the Final Four for the fourth time in program history, with all three prior instances ending in losses. In 2002, the Lakers’ last trip to the Final Four, Mercyhurst dropped a 2-1 decision to Southern New Hampshire in the semifinals. Mercyhurst also made it to the semifinals back in 1998, but suffered a 2-0 setback to South Carolina-Spartansburg. The Lakers' first trip was in 1995, but they suffered a 3-2 overtime loss to South Carolina-Spartansburg in the semifinals.
On the opposite side of the bracket, Saginaw Valley State and NCAA newcomer Simon Fraser meet up. Saginaw Valley earned the school’s first NCAA national semifinals trip with a 1-0 double-overtime victory over Northeastern State. LU has never faced SCSU.
Simon Fraser is an old nemesis of the Blue & White from the days of the NAIA. Lynn went 2-0-1 against The Clan, all in the postseason, with the last meeting a 4-1 LU victory in the 1991 NAIA semifinals. Simon Fraser advanced to the semifinals in 1988 on penalty kicks a year after the Blue & White claimed the 1987 NAIA National Championship in a 1-0 double-overtime victory.
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