Lynn, West Florida Win D-II Titles.

2012 NCAA Division II Men's National Champs.....Lynn University

The disappointment of last year’s loss in the NCAA Division II championship game served as motivation for the Fighting Knights of Lynn University.

It took a full year to get back to the championship game once again, and this time the Knights didn’t disappoint. Their 3-2 victory over Saginow State was the fourth men’s soccer title in program history, and the school’s 20th in all sports.

Johnny Mertl and Yannick Braeuer scored first-half goals but it was Anthony Desperito’s goal with 20 minutes remaining that allowed the Fighting Knights to hoist the championship trophy.

We took a picture of the scoreboard last year when we lost (in overtime),” Lynn head coach John Rootes said after the victory. “The NCAA calls it sudden victory, but that’s a euphemism for it. It was devastating for us to lose in sudden death like that to Fort Lewis.

“But it really motivated our guys from that day. We started preparing the next day for this moment. Every single player on our team, that’s all they’ve talked about since that time. We got close, but we knew we had to commit ourselves to getting back here and finishing the job.

“We talked about it this week when we got to the Final Four, about how we all thought we had some unfinished business.”

Lynn finished the season 19-3-1 overall. The Blue & White previously won national crowns in 2003, 1991 and 1987.

Desperito was honored as the Most Outstanding Offensive Player while Jason Sangha earned Most Outstanding Defensive Player recognition.

Just as LU had done in the semifinals in a win over Mercyhurst, it found the back of the net within moments of the opening whistle. The Fighting Knights took advantage of a corner kick from Jack Winter as AB Magnusson was able to keep the initial header inside the six-yard box before Mertle headed home his first goal of the season.

The Knights took a 3-0 lead before Saginaw Valley State (18-3-4) rallied for two goals late in the second half.

In the end, the Fighting Knights were able to take a different, more joyous photograph on the field afterward. To get there, though, they never permitted themselves to forget the photo taken a year earlier after the loss in the title game.”

“It was a great motivator,” Rootes said of the scoreboard picture from 2011. “It was a motivator for them to get into the weight room, to get up early and do the running. They all worked really hard over the summer to get themselves fit so they could be in this position.

“It’s so gratifying to see these young men, after how hard they worked, to be able to fully accomplish the goal that they set out to reach.”

The Fighting Knights return 11 letterwinners for 2013 with an eye towards winning the program’s fifth title.
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