PENSACOLA, Fla. — Berekk Blackwell knocked home a header off Joey Madigan’s corner kick 1:31 into in the first overtime to lift No. 3 Fort Lewis (24-1-0) to a 3-2 win over No. 20 Lynn (14-5-3) in the NCAA Division II men’s soccer championship game, securing the third national championship since 2005 for the Skyhawks.
The goal capped off a wild game in which Lynn outshot the Skyhawks 12-3 overall and controlled possession for much of the contest.
"I thought we knew it was going to be a tough game," said third-year FLC head coach Oige Kennedy, who also guided the Skyhawks to the 2009 NCAA Division II crown. "It was all pretty even and to go behind and come back and put yourself in the lead, then fall back again, to come out and win it in the end is tremendous. I think we did a good job settling down and finding our rhythm. They came out and shut us down, but we adjusted and won a national championship."
Lynn scored first when Harald Gracholski netted his 12th goal of the season on a 25-yard free kick from outside the box at 13:15.
Fort Lewis equalized when Alberto Capdepon-Rodriguez took a long free kick that glanced off the head of Lynn’s Jason Sangha for an own goal at 24:05. Sangha outleaped FLC captain Fabian Kling, who was trying to get a head the shot toward goal.
"The own goal on our defender got them back into the game," said Lynn head coach John Rootes. "Their heads were down and we had momentum."
The Skyhawks took the lead at 31:23 when Thomas Hoang flicked a pass forward to Cory Dean. Dean sent a pass left to Kosta Kordistos, who one-timed a left-footed shot from the left side past Lynn goalkeeper Matt DiCerbo from 12 yards out. The goal was Kordistos’ ninth of the year.
Gracholski curled in another free kick, this one from 30 yards out, to level the score at 2-2 in the 72nd minute.
Despite being outshot 12-3 overall, the Skyhawks had more shots on goal — 4-3 — than the Fighting Knights (own goals count as a shot on goal for your opponent).
"The fact that we outshot them is a very bitter pill to swallow for us," said Rootes. "Our game plan was to pressure them and to make it difficult for them to play and we did in the first half. We had a number of opportunities in the first half, but too many misses on open shots."
Corner kicks were even at 6-6 through regulation before Madigan floated his perfect pass onto Blackwell’s head in overtime.
"I was upset over the goal and it was the first corner kick we’ve let in all year," said Rootes. "We fought hard, but we just lost our concentration in the overtime. I thought we deserved a better outcome, but you just have to hand it to Fort Lewis."
The game marked the final appearance for at least five Skyhawk seniors: Blackwell, Dean, Hoang, Fabian Kling, and Madigan. Wirth, who has been part of the Skyhawk team for five years but redshirted twice, can play in 2012 should he attend college part time next spring. All except for Madigan (who transferred to Fort Lewis prior to the 2010 campaign) were part of FLC’s 2009 NCAA-II title team, which also finished 24-1-0.
"Our team has four freshmen (Capdepon-Rodriguez, Kordistos, Artur Piperkov, and Johannes Sander) starting and one sophomore (Casey Dean) and for us to gou out and compete against a seasoned team and keep it tight, I’m just really impressed with our guys. It really is a credit to all our players."
Kling was named the Defensive Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, while Kordistos was named the Offensive Most Outstanding Player. Joining the duo on the All-Tournament team from the Skyhawks were Dean and Wirth.
Lynn was represented on the All-Tournament Team by Gracholski, defender A.B. Magnusson, and midfielder Johnny Mertl. Rounding out the All-Tournament team were Millersville defender John Claffey, Franklin Pierce defender Daniel Donaldson, Franklin Pierce midfielder Amory Houghton, and Millersville forward Aaron Roland.
Fort Lewis can now add a third star over its crest, symbolizing its NCAA Division II championships in 2005, 2009, and 2011. The Skyhawks were also NCAA-II runners-up in 1999 and 2006.
Skyhawk fans are encouraged to meet the team at the Durango La Plata County Airport at approximately 2:45 p.m. Sunday afternoon to escort the team back to Durango.