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SNHU Penmen kick their way into NCAA semifinals

Pierre Omanga, Mohamed Toufik, Jonathan Lupinelli, Yannick Kabala and Christian Rodriguez each scored to lead the top-ranked Southern New Hampshire University men’s soccer team to a 5-4 penalty kick shootout win against host No. 22 Mercyhurst University Sunday in the NCAA Division II quarterfinals in Erie, Pa.

 Both teams battled to through a scoreless tie in two overtimes before the penalty kicks decided the contest. The game was played in snowy and windy conditions.

SNHU senior goalkeeper Dom DiMaggio made the only save of the penalty kick round, which proved to be the difference in the game.

The Penmen (20-1), winners of 20 straight games, avenged last year’s 2-1 NCAA quarterfinal home loss to Mercyhurst and advanced to the Division II semifinals on Thursday, Dec. 5 in Evans, Ga.

The Penmen are in the Division II semifinals for the third time in program history, the first two coming in 1989 and 2002.

The Penmen advanced to the final in each of those years, winning the national championship in 1989 and finishing as runner-up in 2002.

On Dec. 5, Southern New Hampshire will face No. 14 Rockhurst University, a 1-0 winner Sunday over the nation’s other top-ranked team, Lindenwood University.

SNHU defeated LIU Post on Friday 3-1 for the NCAA East Region title.

In the penalty kick round against Mercyhurst, DiMaggio made the only save of the extra session, stopping a shot by Matt Campana in the third round.

Rodriguez, a graduate of Manchester Memorial, made his penalty kick in the fifth round, punching the Penmen’s ticket to the semifinals. Kabala, a graduate of Manchester Central, scored his penalty kick in the fourth round.

After an uneventful first half during which Mercyhurst outshot SNHU 6-0 with just one shot on target, the Penmen threatened with 17 minutes to play in regulation.

At the 79:49 mark, DiMaggio made a sliding stop to thwart Fernando Martinez.

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