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2013 Menís Soccer National Championship Semifinal Recap

December 06, 2013
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By: Sam Knehans, Communications & Sports Information Intern

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Goalkeeper Stephen Lunney was the man of the match for Martin Methodist (Tenn.), knocking home the final penalty kick to send the RedHawks to their first-ever NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship final, after making the lone penalty-kick save. The RedHawks keeper is also stellar in the classroom, having been named the Capital One College Division Academic All-America® Player of the Year this season while maintaining a cumulative grade point average of 3.95.

Martin Methodist will take on the winner of No. 2 seed Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) and No. 11-seeded Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) in the 2013 NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship final at 3:00 p.m. Saturday. The second semifinal match, between the Blue Raiders and Warhawks, will be played this afternoon. Both matches will take place at the Emory Folmar YMCA Soccer Complex in Montgomery, Ala.

With both teams playing impeccable defense, it looked as if the semifinal match would head to halftime tied, 0-0. But, Daniel Dreier of Ashford (Iowa) had other plans, finding the back of the net for his fourth goal of the National Championship in the 42nd minute to put the Saints up 1-0 at the half. It took until the 87th minute, but Michael Fulton would respond for the RedHawks, pushing the game to overtime with an unassisted goal. After 20 minutes of scoreless golden-goal action, the game advanced to penalty kicks, becoming the sixth game to be decided in such fashion in this year’s National Championship.

Stephen Lunney saved the second Ashford penalty kick, off the foot of Caio Ruiz, to put the RedHawks up 2-1. Given the opportunity to send Martin Methodist to its first-ever National Championship final—in any men’s sport—Lunney delivered again, firing the final RedHawks penalty kick into the upper 90 to help the team advance, 5-4. 

NeuLion, the NAIA’s official video-streaming company of select NAIA national championship events, will be broadcasting all 15 matches of the 2013 Men’s Soccer National Championship in Montgomery, Ala. Don't miss any of the action that runs from Dec. 2 - 7. Single day packages can be purchased for $9.95, while an all-tournament pass is available for $29.95. For more information and to pre-register, click here.

National Championship Semifinal Notes
-Martin Methodist (Tenn.) advances to its first-ever Men’s Soccer National Championship final in just its second national championship appearance. It will also be the first National Championship final for any RedHawk men’s sports program.
-Martin Methodist coach Gerry Cleary has won two previous national championships as the coach of the RedHawks women’s soccer team in 2005 and 2007. This will be his first-ever Men’s Soccer National Championship final.
-Both Ashford and Martin Methodist were competing in their first national championship semifinals in program history.
-The third place finish is a program-best for Ashford, which had previously appeared in the national championship in 2009 and 2012, having advanced as far as the Second Round.
-Martin Methodist had appeared in just one prior national championship, in 2009, where the RedHawks advanced to the Quarterfinals.
-After having two teams in the National Championship final last season, the Southern States Athletic Conference is guaranteed at least one finalist in Martin Methodist, with the possibility of a second, as Auburn Montgomery (Ala.) is competing in the second semifinal match later today. 
-This was the first RedHawks game to be decided by penalty kicks since the 2008 TranSouth Conference Tournament Championship, where Martin Methodist fell to Bethel (Tenn.).
-After this overtime match, fourteen contests have now required an extra period, with thirteen advancing to double-overtime and six being settled by penalty kicks—all NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship records—in this year’s National Championship.