|Hatters Down Dolphins; Reach Title Game|
Ryan Corning celebrates his game-winner over JU.
Johnson City, Tenn. - For the second consecutive season the Stetson men's soccer team will be playing for the Atlantic Sun Conference championship after defeating Jacksonville 1-0 in Thursday night's tournament semifinal. The Hatters will face the winner of the second semifinal match between #1 ETSU and #4 Lipscomb. Stetson raised its record to 10-5-2, while Jacksonville finished its season at 9-9-2.
The victory also served as a milestone for head coach T. Logan Fleck who now has 100 victories as a division I men's soccer coach. Fleck has also registered over 100 wins coaching division I women's soccer. He is one of a very few coaches who has accomplished the feat.
"My focus is on the boys... I just want this team to do something great", said Stetson head coach T. Logan Fleck. "I'm sure the 100 wins will hit me when the season is over."
The game was scoreless until the 83rd minute when Ryan Corning Ponte Vedra, Fla.) became the hero. It was a set piece goal coming off a short corner kick. From the right corner Giulio D'Amore (DeLand, Fla.) flicked the ball to Gonzalo de Mujica (Buenos Aires, Argentina) who served the ball deep into the box. Corning timed his leap perfectly for a header inside the right side far post.
"It's a great feeling... I'm glad I was able to come up big for the team", said Corning. "We have worked hard all year and now we're making it to the championship game and hopefully we'll take that home as well."
Corning was the offensive star and along with his line mates played some excellent defense as well. Jacksonville outshot Stetson 12-8 overall and sent nine towards the Hatters' goal in the second half alone. Goalkeeper Andreas Schnabl (Blaichach, Germany) and the back four kept the Dolphins from tallying an equalizer. Corning himself swept a ball off the goal line to maintain the lead.
"Our backs played very well tonight and Schnabl really stepped up. He established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the league", said Fleck. "It was a fantastic game. Everyone was tight on both sides... no one wanted to make a mistake."
"I couldn't be happier for our seniors", he added.
Stetson will play for the championship on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. It will be the Hatters' fourth appearance in the title game since 2005. Last season Stetson defeated Mercer 2-1 in the A-Sun tournament finale and went on to play in the NCAA tournament for the second time in school history. Saturday's championship game will be available for viewing free of charge on A-Sun TV at www.atlanticsun.org