Men’s Soccer Topples Franklin Pierce; Advances to National Championship
Pensacola, Fla. – A goal by Youcef Oudjidane in the 84th minute was all Lynn University’s men’s soccer team needed as it knocked off second-ranked Franklin Pierce 1-0 in the 2011 NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer National Semifinals. The Fighting Knights advance to the national championship match for the first time since 2003 and will be looking for the program’s fourth national title and school’s 20th overall.
This will be the eighth finals appearance in program history. Lynn will face the winner of Fort Lewis/Millersville on Saturday, December 3, at 4:30 p.m. EST. The Blue & White improve to 14-4-3 overall and move to 5-0-1 against teams ranked in the top-10.
Despite dominating play from the opening whistle, LU had nothing to show for it through 82 minutes. But a hard tackle on the right sideline by Julian Halder set in motion the Knights game-winning score. After having the ball stripped away, Halder fought back in the right corner, eventually tipping the ball away to Johnny Mertl on the back line. Mertl raced forward and sent a perfect ball to the top of the box to a waiting Oudjidane. The Nottingham, England, native didn’t even hesitate, firing off a shot into the left side netting for the game winner.
Having never lost this year, Franklin Pierce (21-1-1) pressed its attack as its season began to unravel. Every look was turned away by the Knights’ defense while LU’s midfield held possession and found the corners. Joey Maxson ran off 30 seconds of the clock in the waning minutes when he sprinted down the left sideline and held off two defenders at the left flag post.
Lynn was able control the pace of play right from the opening whistle. The Knights outshot the Ravens 10-2 in the opening half and had several scoring opportunities that were thwarted by FPC goal keeper Vinny Papageorgiou. Defensively, the quartet of Jason Sangha, AB Magnusson, Michael Kutscher and James Aldred held the Ravens without an attempt on goal until the 50th minute of play.
Back-to-back shots in the 50th and 51st minutes breathed new life into Franklin Pierce (21-1-1) but Lynn quickly stomped out any thoughts of a goal by muscling the Ravens out of its third of the field and countering with a stellar opportunity of its own.
Harald Gracholski grabbed a pass from Aldred near the top left corner of the penalty box and broke free on a run towards the middle of the box. Looking for an open lane, the Cologne, Germany product ripped a shot to the right post but saw Papageorgiou make another diving stop to keep the game scoreless.
This marks Lynn’s 13th shutout of the season, the third most in program history and most since 1997. LU also improves to 3-0 all-time against Franklin Pierce.
Fans can watch Saturday’s championship match on www.NCAA.com and listen to all of the action live at LynnFightingKnights.com.