Louisville, Ky. – Two goals moments into the match shell shocked the No. 1 team in the nation and Lynn University's third-ranked men's soccer team withstood a late offensive push to defeat Charleston (W.Va.) 3-2 to claim the 2014 NCAA Division II National Championship. This is the 23rd national title in school history and the fifth for the men's soccer program, including the second national crown in the last three years.
Lynn's men's soccer team has now claimed NCAA titles in 2014, 2012 and 2003 and NAIA crowns in 1991 and 1987 and joins the women's golf team with five total championships. Both programs trail women's tennis, which has six titles.
Chris Hellmann scored twice, giving him a nation-leading 28 goals and 69 points while adding his 10th game-winner, in being named the tournament's Most Outstanding Offensive Player. Jason Sangha was honored as the tournament's Most Outstanding Defensive Player for the second time in his career. Joining Hellmann and Sangha on the all-tournament team was Nicolas Mortensen and Lukas Zlatarits.
Lynn (19-1-1) grabbed a 1-0 lead just 3:23 into play when the Golden Eagles turned the ball over deep into their territory. Nicolas Mortensen grabbed the poor pass and ran on goal before ripping a shot from 25-yards out. Charleston keeper Fabian Veit made the initial save but the ball trickled back over the goal line to put the Fighting Knights ahead 1-0.
A mere three minutes later Hellmann unleashed the goal of the season off a free kick from 25-yards out. The sophomore striker stood over the ball on the right wing and bent a shot over the wall to the upper right corner of net for his 27th goal, putting Lynn on top 2-0.
Charleston (22-1-1) tried in vain to get back in the match but was turned away on two occasions by freshman keeper Lucas Fancello. The second save in the half proved crucial as Fancello made a leaping save, similar to the semifinals, to keep the Golden Eagles at bay.
Another sloppy play by the Charleston midfield led to a 3-0 Lynn advantage in the 32nd minute. Hellmann stole an errant pass near the top of the box and slotted his shot to the lower corner on a drawn out Veit and the Fighting Knights celebration for No. 23 was nearly complete.
If Lynn's first half was flawless, its second half was flawed. The Blue & White had difficulty combining on passes and overcoming tremendous wind gusts. Where Charleston missed on opportunities earlier, it finally put one into the net in the 79th minute. Jules Gabbiadini tallied the goal with a shot from the left side to the right post, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
Lynn bunkered down, got defensive and continued to drive to the corners of the Golden Eagles territory. Unfortunately a takedown inside the Lynn 18-yard box brought new life to Charleston as it gave the opposing team a penalty kick, converted by Will Roberts to make it a 3-2 match.
A foul with eight seconds left near midfield kept the crowd and team in suspense but Fancello punched away the aerial pass and the Fighting Knights' bench poured onto the field for the 23rd celebration in school history.
This marks the 10th time Lynn has posted at least 19 wins during the season while the men's soccer team joins the 2003 squad as the only team in Sunshine State Conference history to win the league's regular season and tournament title and national championship.
Lynn returns 19 letterwinners and six starters, including First Team All-American Chris Hellmann. To read more about the men's soccer program log on to LynnFightingKnights.com and follow @Lynn_Knights on Twitter and Instagram.