Southern New Hampshire University captured the NCAA Division II men's soccer championship with a 2-1 win over Carson-Newman University in Evans, Ga. on Saturday.
It is the second national championship for the program and the first since 1989.
"That's what we set out to do was win the big one," said SNHU head coach Marc Hubbard. "We played really good soccer and I think anyone watching saw what Southern New Hampshire can do."
SNHU was ranked No. 1 and finished the season 23-1-0 with 22 wins in a row after losing the season-opener to Post University. Carson-Newman of Jefferson City, Tenn., was unranked and closed the season 16-6-1.
The Penmen took a 1-0 lead in the 74th minute when junior midfielder Miguel Carneiro scored on a shot from the left side of the box that rolled past the reach of Eagles goalkeeper Rumwald le Guevel and inside the near post.
In the 86th minute, le Guevel was called for a foul in the box after tripping SNHU senior forward Pierre Omanga as both men raced toward a loose ball.
Omanga, an All-American selection, was awarded a penalty kick and buried the shot to the middle of the net as le Guevel guessed wrong, diving low to the left. It was Omanga's 21st goal of the season.
The two-goal lead probably felt safe for SNHU, which had allowed just two goals in the past nine games and recorded 13 shutouts on the season from goalkeeper Dom DiMaggio.
With just over two minutes remaining in the game, the physical nature of the game finally boiled over and Carson-Newman's Matheus Bachi and SNHU's Mohamed Toufik got into a fight, with the pair exchanging punches and kicks.
Both men were shown red cards and ejected. The scuffle broke out while another Eagle, Joao Pedro Dowsley, was being given a red card. That left Carson-Newman down two players and SNHU down one for the remainder of the game.
"We were up 2-0 and they weren't happy about the PK call. It got chippy," Hubbard said. "You never want to see a game end like that."
The Eagles managed a goal with six seconds remaining when Kristian Speake beat DiMaggio (three saves) far post with a shot from the left side of the box.
But it was too little, too late for Carson-Newman and the Penmen celebrated their second NCAA title in three trips to the big game.
A group of approximately 50 SNHU fans were on hand to share in the title win.
"It was a great crowd. SNHU was able to fly a bunch of people down and get them a bus and they got here right as the game started," Hubbard said. "They made a big difference. It really shows the commitment of the school."
With the championship not even minutes old, Hubbard was already thinking about the next one.
"I hope we finally get the respect we deserve in the region," Hubbard said. "We'll get back to work on Monday and reload for next season. Success is only going to drive us to want more."