LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Lynn struck early and often, and then survived a furious second half rally from Charleston (W.Va.), en route to their second Division II men’s soccer championship in three seasons. The Knights powered past the Golden Eagles 3-2 Saturday at Owsley B. Frazier Stadium behind three first half goals.
Freshman Nicholas Mortensen set the tone for Lynn’s championship run with a third-minute strike that deflected off the hands of Golden Eagles goalkeeper Fabian Veit. Mortensen’s goal was followed by a free kick score from sophomore Chris Hellmann in the sixth minute. Hellmann, who tallied two goals in Lynn’s 4-1 semifinal victory against Quincy, would connect again in the 31st minute to push Lynn toward a 3-0 halftime advantage.
Junior Jules Gabbiadini put the Golden Eagles on the scoreboard in the 78th minute, igniting what would become a furious rally from Charleston over the game’s final minutes. Playing with a heavy wind at their back, Charleston strung together a series of late attempts on goal. A penalty kick score by freshman Will Roberts pulled Charleston within a goal in the 89th minute and set the stage for Lynn to defend a free kick as time expired.
“I’m sure it was a great and exciting finish if you were watching neutral, but for me I’m glad they had the defibulator on the side just in case,” Lynn head coach John Rootes said. “My heart couldn’t take much more of that.”
Rootes now has two national championships at the Florida school and three total for his career. He also guided Southern New Hampshire to a Division II title in 1989. The 25th anniversary of that title occurred earlier this week.
“It really is special and I’ve been staying in coaching this long because of the experience with these guys,” Rootes said. “It seems like yesterday we played in the 1989 championship. I still have great relationships with those kids and I hopefully this group will be exactly the same in 25 years.”
Lynn’s victory marked the third Division II title in program history. The Knights previously won championships in 2012 and 2003, and finished as the national runner-up in 2011 and 1997.