Denver, Colo. - Lynn University's men's golf team qualified for match play at the NCAA Division II National Championship for the fifth time in school history, knocking off Barry University 3-2 in the quarterfinals but falling to top-seeded Saint Leo in the semifinals on a tiebreaker after play ended 2-2-1.
INSIDE THE EVENT:
Location: Green Valley Ranch Golf Club | Denver, Colo.
History at Event: Fourth consecutive appearance and ninth overall (national runner-up in 2015, 2013 & 2011)
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HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Against Barry
- It was a neck and neck battle between the longtime rivals but in the end the Fighting Knights pulled out three points at the top of their lineup.
- Martin Cancino collected the first point for Lynn but it was not easy. A back and forth affair with Jack Allard came to a head on the final hole when Cancino took a one shot lead, Allard's second shot sailed into a hazard and Cancino birdied the hole to claim a two-shot victory.
- Elliott Whitley battled Nico Cavero in the second spot. Whitley went three-under par over his first nine holes and ended the day with a birdie to top Cavero with a score of 69 to 71.
- Gomez closed out the match in thrilling fashion. Ahead by one stroke heading into the second to last hole, Gomez birdied on the par three No. 8 hole while his counterpart, Mike Anderson made bogey. Gomez then birdied his last hole to secure the win with a 69 to 71 score.
- Manuel Torres fell in his match to Kyle Brey, 69 to 71 and Jose Miranda dropped the last match to Niclas Weiland 71 yo 75.
- Against Saint Leo
- Pitting the top-two teams in the Sunshine State Conference against each other in the semifinals, the powerhouse matchup lived up to its billing with a thrilling ending.`
- Using the same lineup as the quarterfinals, Cancino led off and had a three-shot advantage early on but Griffin Clark rallied back and tied the match on the 14th hole. Clark, though, hit into the hazard on No. 18, followed with a shot into a bunker and two-putted for a double-bogey while Cancino tapped in a three-foot putt for par to finish with a one-under 71 compared to Clark's 73.
- Individual national champion Hugo Bernard battled fellow countryman Elliott Whitley in the second position. The Canadian duo struggled over the first three holes until Bernard birdied three consecutive holes. He would take down Whitley with a score of 69 to 74 to even the match up 1-1.
- Gomez took an early lead over Liam Ainsworth and never looked back. The junior out of Cali, Colombia, would go up by as many as five but dropped two strokes over the final three holes to win 69 to 72.
- Excitement ratcheted up in the final two groupings. Manuel Torres held a four shot lead midway through the round but Joey Savoie rallied back to take the lead with a birdie on No. 16 and win 71 to 72.
- It all came down to Miranda versus Ryan Gendron. Miranda took a one stroke lead on the 14th hole but missed putts on 16 and 17 to fall behind a shot. Gendron hit a bunker and overshot the green before chipping close to the hole for a bogey. Miranda, meanwhile, hit to the bunker next to the green and his sand shot rolled inches away from the hole and the subsequent tap-in tied the match 2-2-1.
- While Miranda evened his match with Gendron, Lynn would fall to Saint Leo due to the aggregate score of 360 to 361.
BEYOND THE SCORECARD:
- Whitley moved to 6-0 in championship match play with his victory over Barry's Cavero but dropped his first match to Bernard.
- Including stroke & match play, Gomez finished 14-under par for the tournament.
- Since match play was instituted at the Division II level in 2011, Lynn has made a NCAA-best five match play appearances. Barry, Nova Southeastern and Chico State each have four appearances.
- The Fighting Knights are the only team to qualify for match play in each of the last four years and joins Nova Southeastern (2012-15) as the only institutions with four consecutive years of match play.
- Head coach Andrew Danna is now tied with Barry's Jimmy Stobbs and Chico State's T.L. Brown for the most match play appearances for a head coach with four.
The Fighting Knights posted one of its most historic seasons, having tied a school record with six tournament victories this year, including its second consecutive Sunshine State Conference title, while logging the lowest overall team stroke average (73.10) and overall team scoring average (288.11) in school history. For more information on the team, log on to LynnFightingKnights.com.