Penmen score 19th consecutive victory in NCAA second round
MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Senior Christian Rodriguez scored twice as second-seeded Southern New Hampshire posted a 3-0 victory against sixth-seeded Wilmington (Del.) in the second round on Saturday at Larkin Field. The Penmen won their 19th consecutive to improve to 19-1 overall, while the Wildcats see their season come to a close at 13-6-2.
SNHU will next face top-seeded LIU Post, a 6-1 winner against Dowling, in the NCAA East Region final. That game will be at the highest remaining seed in the Atlantic Region, which will be determined Sunday when second-seeded Notre Dame (Ohio) faces third-seeded Mercyhurst.
Southern New Hampshire struck twice in the final 8:04 of the first half to build a 2-0 break at intermission. In the 37th minute, senior Brian Francolini, who had just come in off the bench, took a through ball down the middle from junior Miguel Carneiro, deked a Wilmington defender and fired from the right past Wildcat keeper Spyros Stergiotis for his sixth goal of the season.
Rodriguez made it 2-0 1:58 before halftime when he took a low crossing left-to-right crossing pass across the box and fired low as he scored his fourth goal of the season. Kenny Doublette also registered an assist on the play.
Rodriguez added an insurance goal at the 73:28 mark when he intercepted a clearing pass from a Wilmington defender and ripped a shot from 25 yards that found the upper left corner.
After an even first 20 minutes, Southern New Hampshire gradually took control, outshooting the Wildcats 21-7. Senior Dom DiMaggio made three saves en route to his seventh shutout of the season and the 12th of the season for the Penmen, including their past six. Stergiotis played the first 84:16 and made four saves before being relieved by Chad Jenkins, who was not forced to make a save. The Penmen also held a 6-3 advantage in corner kicks.
Southern New Hampshire did not face LIU Post in the regular season and last played the Pioneers in 2011, defeating them 2-0 in the second round of the NCAA tournament.