Fort Lewis 6, Lynn 4

Dec. 2, 2005

WICHITA FALLS, Texas -- All-American forward John Cunliffe (Edgeworth, England) scored three goals and added an assist as top-ranked Fort Lewis College defeated No. 9 Lynn University 6-4 to advance to the NCAA Division II Championship, to be held at noon (CST) on Sunday at the Midwestern State University Soccer Field.

The Skyhawks (21-0-1) will face Franklin Pierce College (14-5-4) in the finals, which will be broadcast live on Altitude Sports & Entertainment Network and KIUP (930 AM and

We finished our chances, and I think thats the difference, said Fort Lewis head coach Jeremy Gunn, whose Skyhawks were outshot 18-12. Every time Lynn really had a go at us, we had some special players on the field to keep us ahead.

Cunliffe opened scoring at 13:25 on a breakaway run from the midfield line. His goal was assisted by junior midfielder Ryan Kerr (Seattle, Wash.) and senior forward Cole Sweetser (North Richland Hills, Texas).

Sophomore midfielder Kieran Hall (Blackburn, England) knocked in a header from the far post off a corner kick from Cunliffe at 42:18 to send Fort Lewis into the locker room with a 2-0 lead at intermission.

The Fighting Knights (16-3-0) evened the score at 2-2 by scoring twice in the first 25 minutes of the second half. Freshman midfielder Lee Porter (Repton, England) scored just 1:13 into the second half by driving a hard shot past a diving Fort Lewis goalkeeper Nick Clark (Durango, Colo.) into the side of the net. Senior defender David Benn (Preston, England) scored on a breakaway from the midfield stripe at 69:12 to knot the score.

Benns goal was the first of four goals in a wild three-minute span. Cunliffe notched his second of the game a 71:12 on a breakaway. Thirty-three seconds later, Lynn freshman midfielder Jean Alexander (Delray Beach, Fla.) scored off a deflected pass to tie the score again at 3-3. The Skyhawks took the lead for good when junior midfielder Ben Gantenbein (Golden, Colo.) buried a crossing pass from Sweetser at 72:16.

Sweetser and Cunliffe added insurance goals for the Skyhawks in the final 10 minutes to extend the lead to 6-3 before junior midfielder Lee Paul Scroggins (Bolden, England) converted a penalty kick for the Knights at 86:22 to make the final score 6-4.

The 10-goal offensive explosion came as a surprise to most of the 761 fans in attendance since the two teams had allowed a total of 20 goals entering tonights semifinal contest.

The Skyhawks will make their second-ever NCAA championship appearance. Fort Lewis reached the championship game in 1999 before falling to Southern Connecticut State in double overtime, 2-1.

-- Courtesy Fort Lewis