Men’s Soccer Advances to NCAA Third Round
BOCA RATON, Fla. – A picturesque header by Julian Halder in the 49th minute clinched a 1-0 Lynn University men’s soccer victory over rival University of Tampa in the NCAA South Region Tournament second round on Saturday afternoon. This marks the first victory by the Fighting Knights over the Spartans in NCAA Tournament play since 1997, snapping a four-game postseason losing streak.
In a rematch from a 4-0 LU victory in late September, the Blue & White looked for a similar script in scoring early on. That opportunity arose in the sixth minute of play when Julian Halder skipped a free kick off the turf towards net. Tampa keeper David Niepel could not make the clean save as Jack Winter looked for the opening goal. But the Spartans defense cleared the shot off the goal line to keep the match squared at 0-0.a
The Fighting Knights logged seven of their 17 shots in the first half, with Niepel making three stops. On the flip side, Lynn’s defense held Tampa without a shot attempt on frame through the first 45 minutes and allowed just two shots on target to record its 12th shutout of the season. The defensive unit of Jason Sangha, AB Magnusson, Michael O’Neill and Michael Kutscher completely neutralized Tyler Blackwood, holding the Sunshine State Conference Offensive Player of the Year to one shot.
With the game tied at 0-0, Lynn finally broke through the UT defense with some combination passing. Halder found Youcef Oudjidane near the right sideline and the graduate midfielder chipped a cross over the back four to the left post. Halder met the ball in the air and headed a shot over Niepel for his team-leading ninth goal of the season, and fourth game-winner.
Tampa (10-6-1) made a couple plays to even things up with its best chance coming from Alex Knaggs. The Spartan midfielder beat his defender on the right wing and ripped a shot from just inside the box but Matt DiCerbo made a leaping save, one of two on the day, to keep LU on top.
The Fighting Knights will next take on Rollins College in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Date, time and location are to be determined based on results of the Southeast Regional where top-seeded Lander battles Wingate and No. 2 seed Flagler hosts UNC-Pembroke.
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