PENSACOLA, Fla. -- A little over month ago, Fort Lewis freshman forward Kosta Kordistos was standing on the sidelines as the Skyhawks rolled through their regular season schedule. 

On Saturday afternoon, Kordistos helped his teammates raise the 2011 NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship trophy and was named the most outstanding player of the championship as the Skyhawks edged Lynn 3-2 in overtime. 

In only his fourth game of his freshman year, Kordistos collided with a Colorado School of Mines defender, injuring his knee. He was sidelined for 13 games with the injury, and there was doubt he would return to the pitch at all this year.

But Kordistos preserved, and worked relentlessly to rehabilitate the knee in time for the postseason.

“I remember when I got injured … Coach spoke with me about redshirting,” Kordistos said.  “I told him I would be fit and in shape for the (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) tournament.  I said that we have a great team with such a good attitude and everyone has worked so hard this season.  I said that if we didn’t win this year, I didn’t know when else we would … I’m pretty happy that everything worked out like this.”

A native of Lippstadt, Germany, rejoined the squad for the regular season finale at Adams State.  He came off the bench, but played 44 minutes and netted two goals in the final 10 minutes of the 3-1 contest, including the game-winning score just a minute after ASC had knotted it at 1-1.

Kordistos came off the bench in the Skyhawks’ next three games, but was back in the starting lineup against Incarnate Word on Nov. 13 for FLC’s second NCAA tournament contest.  Kordistos did not score in Fort Lewis’ 1-0 victory against IWU, but he has been an integral part of the Skyhawks’ offensive attack in their last three NCAA games, scoring four goals.

“It’s a credit to Kosta because he missed most of the season and we’ve only just gotten a brace off his leg,” FLC head coach Oige Kennedy said.  “The goals he has scored have been phenomenal. The athletic trainers and doctors worked hard to get him healthy and we were just pleased to see him playing again.”

Lynn took an early 1-0 lead thanks to a free kick goal by Harald Grochalski -- the first score the Skyhawks had surrendered in the NCAA postseason. FLC tied it up with a Lynn own goal 24:05 into the first half.  The Skyhawks gained some momentum, and Kordistos put them up 2-1 with a score off a through ball in the box, assisted by Cory Dean.

“After the first goal against us we started to play our game,” Kordistos said.  “We got a little bit lucky with our first goal when their guy headed it in on an own goal. But a couple minutes later, I scored our second one and from then on it was a tight battle.”

Grochalski knotted the score at 2-2 at 71:26 for his second free kick goal, forcing overtime in the NCAA title game for the first time since 2000. Fort Lewis needed just 91 seconds of extra time before senior Berreck Blackwell sealed the victory on a corner kick goal. 

“Every game, I’m extremely impressed,” Kennedy said.  “Our team has four freshman starters, and a sophomore in the lineup and we were going up against a team that has a lot of experience and older guys.  I’m impressed with the way they could keep themselves balanced.”

It is the Skyhawks’ third NCAA championship since 2005.  Fort Lewis also won the 2009 title -- Kennedy’s first season as head coach.