BOCA RATON, Fla. –- With two consecutive trips to the NCAA Division II National Championship, including winning the 2012 national title, the question is will Lynn’s No. 1 ranked team be able to sustain its success for the 2013 season?  The team lost nine starters from last year, so the Fighting Knights title hopes will hinge on the extraordinary talent of the 10 returning players and the 14 newcomers joining the squad.

Luckily, the Blue & White have All-Americans anchoring the offense and defense in Jack Winter and Jason Sangha to build upon with most of the returners having played significant roles off the bench.

Winter could become the focal point of the offense after posting eight goals, seven assists and 23 points in his first year with Lynn. Although LU lost an 11-goal scorer, the combination of Anthony Desperito and Yannick Braeuer is ready to step up. Desperito was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player for the NCAA tournament and Braeuer scored key postseason goals as the duo tallied eight goals between them overall.

Coach Rootes could also look to some newcomers to provide the offensive firepower. Chris Klarner has showed promise in the preseason and Charlie Anderson boasts an impressive resume with back-to-back NSCAA First Team Junior College All-America selections. 

The middle of the field will have four new starters on the pitch but two players, Jake Furman and Kerst Lehman, saw substantial minutes last season. Furman looks to push the ball offensively while Lehman proved he can whip any ball into the box from the left side. Competition will also be coming from transfer Mark Hanlon, a Second Team All-Peach Belt Conference selection the previous year at South Carolina-Aiken, NCAA Division I transfer Adam Hutchinson, Matthias Jaenicke and Isaac Hamui.

Defense has been the trademark of Lynn men’s soccer throughout its history and 2013 should be no different with two-time All-American Sangha manning the middle.  Returner Michael O’Neill and newcomer Javier Mochon are locked in a battle for the second middle defensive position but O’Neill may be better suited at right back, allowing the NSCAA Junior College All-American to give LU a formidable tandem. Converted forward Simon Gubisch could be manning the left side and would give Rootes an offensive attacking option from the back line.

One of the hotly contested position battles will be in net with Harris Smiler and freshman Kevin Shields. Smiler showed promise until an injury prematurely ended his 2013 season. He brings age, maturity and some experience to the table. But Shields, the FHSAA Class 3A Player of the Year, has the size and athleticism not seen in a Blue & White uniform in some time.

Lynn beings its title defense with a forgiving start to the schedule as the team travels for road matches at Shorter and Lee. But a home match versus Palm Beach Atlantic will test the Fighting Knights’ mettle and prepare them for a difficult stretch where they will face four Sunshine State Conference opponents, Nova Southeastern, Florida Southern, Barry and ninth-ranked Rollins, in non-conference action.

THIS WEEKEND'S TOP-10 MATCHUPS
DATE/TIME (ET) MATCHUP
Sept. 5  
3:30 p.m. No. 8 LIU Post vs. Concordia (N.Y.)
7 p.m. No. 3 Simon Fraser vs. CSU-East Bay
7 p.m. No. 7 SNHU vs. Post
8:30 p.m. No. 2 Saginaw Valley State vs. Lewis
Sept. 6  
3 p.m. No. 4 Mercyhurst vs. No. 25 Notre Dame (Ohio)
4:30 p.m. No. 1 Lynn vs. Shorter
7 p.m. No. 6 Rockhurst vs. Newman
7 p.m. No. 10 Flagler vs. Mars Hill
Sept. 7  
2 p.m. No. 3 Simon Fraser vs. Holy Names
2 p.m. No. 10 Flagler vs. Limestone
3 p.m. No. 5 Regis vs. St. Mary’s (Texas)
3:30 p.m. No. 2 Saginaw Valley State vs. Wisconsin-Parkside
7 p.m. No. 1 Lynn vs. Lee
7 p.m. No. 8 LIU Post vs. Adelphi
7 p.m. No. 9 Rollins vs. Embry-Riddle
Sept. 8  
1 p.m. No. 6 Rockhurst vs. No. 14 Northeastern State
1 p.m. No. 7 SNHU vs. Dowling
3 p.m. No. 4 Mercyhurst vs. No. 11 Charleston
Sept. 10  
3:30 p.m. No. 1 Lynn vs. Palm Beach Atlantic
Sept. 11  
6 p.m. No. 7 SNHU vs. Dominican (N.Y.)
7 p.m. No. 9 Rollins vs. No. 10 Flagler