Lees-McRae And Fort Lewis Advance To Title Game
Dec. 3, 2009
By Carl Kotala
Special to NCAA.com
TAMPA - One team won in a laugher. The other had to rally from a 2-0 deficit with less than six minutes remaining to win on penalty kicks.
But no matter how they got there, the only thing that matters to Fort Lewis and Lees-McRae following Thursday’s NCAA Division II men’s soccer national semifinals is that they’re now just one more win away from a national championship.
The teams will meet Saturday at 4 p.m. at Tampa’s Pepin Stadium.
FORT LEWIS 8, LEMOYNE 2
It took the Skyhawks about 20 minutes to get rolling Thursday. But when they did … wow.
Three goals within six minutes to start the second half – including two by senior forward David Barden to give him a hat trick – broke open what had been a 2-1 game at the half, and sent Fort Lewis to the national championship game.
“We’re delighted with how we played today,” Fort Lewis interim coach Ogie Kennedy said. “All credit to our guys. It’s (been) four years of hard work, and it’s starting to pay off. We’ve got one more game to win.”
Barden, in his first game back since sustaining a broken bone on top of his foot three weeks ago, entered the game midway through the first half. He scored the go-ahead goal at the 37:52 mark of the first half on a perfect crossing pass from senior midfielder Tom Settle and then added two more early in the second half.
Settle had three assists Thursday to bring his season total to 24, tops in the nation. He also added a goal. Joe Barnd and Euan Purcell each had two goals as well.
Le Moyne, which got two goals from junior Angelo Reina, gave Fort Lewis trouble early, pressuring the ball up the field and not letting the Skyhawks (23-1) have much room to pass. However, that strategy seemed to change after Reina’s first goal gave the Dolphins a 1-0 lead. Le Moyne defenders dropped back about 10 yards and Fort Lewis was able to take advantage.
It was the start of the second half, though, when it all completely unraveled for the Dolphins.
“There’s no question about it,” Bonus said. “I said at halftime, if we give up a third goal, we don’t want to give it up early. I thought after we gave up the third goal, the guys stopped playing a bit.”
Le Moyne (18-3-3) was playing without senior goalkeeper Steve White, who injured his shoulder in Wednesday’s practice. Junior Dan St. Jacques, who had played only 45 minutes since 2007, got the start in goal and held up well early on before the Fort Lewis attack overwhelmed the Dolphins defense.
LEES-MCRAE 2, LEWIS 2 (2OT, 5-3 PKs)
Christopher Whalley thinks his goalkeeper, Sean Paradise, is one of the best in the country and it was hard to argue with him Thursday. The senior stopped a penalty shot in regulation, and another during penalty kicks as the No. 9 Bobcats rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat No. 20 Lewis.
Nestor Hernandez scored two goals in less than a minute to give the Flyers what seemed like an insurmountable two-goal lead late in the second half. But Lees-McRae (19-2-1) answered with goals by Grant Elder and Lee Squires – the last with 3:39 to play – to send it into overtime.
In the penalty kick phase, Paradise stopped Lewis’ Robert McGowan on the Flyers’ first attempt. In regulation, Paradise had read McGowan perfectly on a penalty kick and stopped him by diving to his left.
“I figured he wouldn’t go the same way twice on me and he ended up going the other way,” Paradise said. “I guessed right again.”
After the first four Bobcats made their penalty kicks, a trip to the national title game was on the foot of Lees-McCrae true freshman Jamie Bladen.
“I wasn’t happy with the way I played today,” Bladen said. “So I knew I had to score to give myself a chance to prove myself in the finals. I give the credit to Sean, because it’s harder to save than it is to score.”
Hernandez, who scored his second goal with 10:23 remaining, thought the Flyers (16-4-2) may have been too buoyed by the big lead.
“I think we, especially after the second goal, got a little too confident,” he said. “We lost the rhythm of our game. We were doing good for 83-84 minutes and that affected us … they popped one in and their momentum grew. Then they got the second one. We didn’t do the job for 90 minutes.”