Men’s Soccer Season Ends in National Championship Loss
Pensacola, Fla. – Lynn University’s bid for its 20th national title fell short Saturday afternoon following a 3-2 overtime loss to No. 3 Fort Lewis in the 2011 NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer National Championship. Johnny Mertl, AB Magnusson and Harald Gracholski earned NCAA All-Tournament honors with Gracholski netting both goals for the Fighting Knights. Lynn ends the season 14-5-3 overall.
Lynn owns three national crowns in men’s soccer and 19 overall since 1986. The men’s soccer program has played in eight national championships in its history.
Trailing 2-1 with 19 minutes remaining in regulation, Gracholski worked his magic to knot the game at two. The Cologne, Germany, product ripped his 13th goal of the season on a free kick from 30-yards out inside the left post to send the game into OT.
This was just the ninth overtime game in the history of the NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship. Fort Lewis (24-1-0) took advantage of a corner kick 1:33 into extra time when Berekk Blackwell headed in Joey Madigan’s pass for the game-winner.
Lynn was all over the Skyhawks in the opening minutes of the match. Stefan Wolf and Mertl each had opportunities inside the 18-yard box but watched as their attempts hit the post and sailed wide. It was at 13:15 that the Blue & White finally broke down Fort Lewis’ defense.
Gracholski heeled a pass to Wolf near the top of the box and through the Skyhawk central defenders and the senior forward out of Rostock, Germany forced a foul to set up a free kick. Gracholski snuck the proceeding shot around the four-man wall and inside of the right post for the 1-0 lead.
The Skyhawks evened the game at one in the 25th minute when a free kick by Alberto Capdepon-Rodriguez was accidently headed in by the LU defense. Fort Lewis then took a 2-1 lead seven minutes later when Kosta Kordistos beat the Knights’ back four on a through ball by Cory Dean and chipped a shot over keeper Matt DiCerbo.
Lynn outshot Fort Lewis 12-3 but the Skyhawks held a 7-6 advantage in corner kicks.
The Fighting Knights return 21 letterwinners, including nine starters, for next season.