Lincoln Memorial Drops D-2 Title Game.
That is what was left in regulation in the NCAA Division II men’s national championship game when Franklin Pierce’s David Clifton, the #2 goalscorer in the nation, slipped a shot over the head of Lincoln Memorial goalkeeper Brent Cole for a 1-0 win with a minute and 45 seconds to go.
Ironically, it was with 1:46 to go in the second overtime in the semifinals, when Lincoln Memorial scored to beat Montevallo University.
The final was an epic battle between two programs that had never before won a national championship.
Though disappointed, Lincoln Memorial’s head coach Helio De’Anna was philosophical in defeat.
“I told our guys, that our sport is so unforgiving,” said D’Anna. “Franklin Pierce is a great team, but we did what it took to win the game, and we out-shot them.
“Anyway, that is part of why we love this game. We played our possession game, and sometimes that wears the other team out. In fact, many times we are out-shot because of our style, and we win. Our guys did what it took, and I’m proud of them.”
The “style” of which D’Anna, a native of Brazil, spoke is not unlike the style played in Brazil. Nine of his players are from his native country, including senior midfielder Nelson Pizarro, sophomore defender Felipe Nogueira and sophomore Leandro Pereira. All were named Daktronics NCAA Division II All-America.
Pereira was named National Division II Player of the Year. He led the Railsplitters with 23 goals and 55 points. Pizarro scored 15 goals and Nogueira added 11.
Cole, one of three Tennessee natives on the LMU team, is a senior from Knoxville. He played in 24 games with 22 starts, posting a 0.92 goals against average with 84 saves.
The victory that launched the Railsplitters into the title match was the result of Guilherme Alves, another Brazilian, ending a long game by finishing a shot as the sun was setting behind the goal.
“It’s the story of our season,” said Coach D’Anna after that win. “It was a close, hard, dog fight. Our system works. It might not be the best for some, but for our players it works.”
His words were prophetic, as it turned out with another close, hard, dog fight in the final.
Lincoln Memorial finished the season 20-4-1. All five of the Railsplitters’
Tennessee Well Represented
Tennessee intercollegiate soccer was well represented in the NCAA D-II tournament. Tusculum and Carson-Newman squared off in the men’s first round with C-N winning 3-1. LMU beat Carson Newman 2-1 in the second round of play.
In the NCAA Division II women’s national tournament Tusculum reached the third round, where the Pioneers lost to Columbus State 2-0. They had a bye in the first round and downed Lincoln Memorial 3-1 in the second. LMU had defeated Armstrong State 2-1 in the first round.