SNHU seeks NCAA title
It's not hard to identify the underdog in today's NCAA Division II men's soccer championship game.
Southern New Hampshire University will enter the contest with a 22-game winning streak and the No. 1 national ranking. The Penmen will be facing an unranked Carson-Newman team that advanced to the national championship game for the first time.
"We know a lot about them, but I don't know if they know too much about us," Carson-Newman coach Richard Moodie said. "We're excited to play (Southern New Hampshire). They're a great, great outfit. Well coached. Very disciplined. It'll be a great game hopefully."
Today's game will be played at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga., and is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
SNHU (22-1-0) advanced by beating Rockhurst University 2-1 in Thursday's semifinals. Carson-Newman, which is located in Jefferson City, Tenn., defeated Simon Fraser 3-2 in the semifinals. Joao Pedro Dowsley scored with 1:11 to play to earn Carson-Newman (16-5-1) its first opportunity to play for a national title.
"They're a very emotional team," SNHU coach Marc Hubbard said. "They prefer a more open game, so our midfield will have to do a lot of work defensively. They have a couple key guys and if we give them a lot of space it could be a long day for us."
SNHU is aiming for its second national title. The Penmen won the NCAA Division II championship in 1989, and finished as the runner-up in 2002.
SNHU leads the nation in goals-against average (.40) and hasn't allowed more than one goal in any game this season. SNHU goalkeeper Dom DiMaggio has started all 23 games and has an .845 save percentage.
The Penmen are ranked No. 9 in scoring average (2.59), and haven't lost since opening the season with a 1-0 setback against Post. Senior Pierre Omanga, the Northeast-10 Player of the Year, leads the SNHU offense with 20 goals and three assists. He has scored at least one goal in nine of the last 12 games.
Junior Ross Frame has 19 goals and 11 assists to lead Carson-Newman, which is averaging 2.19 goals per game (No. 26). Carson-Newman goalkeeper Rumwald LeGuevel has a .795 save percentage.
"I genuinely think (LeGuevel) is the best keeper in Division II," Moodie said.
Today's game will be the first meeting between the two programs.
"We'll have to win the battle at midfield, take the opportunities when we have space and shut down their top two or three scorers," Hubbard said. "I'm feeling good about our chances based on how we played the other night."