By Gian Louis Thompson | email@example.com
Photo by Josh Weaver
The men’s soccer team will battle Wingate University in the first round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional tonight. The match comes as a result of the NCAA Division II selection show where Flagler was drawn to compete. The Saints consider this game as a chance to avenge their recent loss by penalty kick shootout against Lander University in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament.
The two teams have yet to face each other on the pitch and are expected to show each other a sleeve of unfamiliar tactics. Head coach John Lynch believes that the unfamiliarity between his squad and Wingate will work to the advantage of both teams.
“Scouting reports are all we have,” Lynch said. “We know very little about them. We know that they have they players to get at us but we have the players to get at them.”
Lynch said Wingate is known to be an offensive powerhouse and foresees a strong defense is the key to victory on the pitch.
“Whichever team defends best will probably win the game,” Lynch said.
Flagler will have to play as a team in order to claim victory. Senior defender Ryan Endrizzi says it’s the simple things that the team needs to execute.
“I think we will have to attack and defend as a team,” Endrizzi said. “Sometimes we get disconnected from each other from a whole. As long as we do the simple things right we will succeed.”
Junior midfielder Conor Killeen also believes a collaborative performance is crucial and the talent is there for the Saints.
“We need to move and play together as a team against Wingate,” Killeen said.
The Saints face a new environment as of their admittance to the PBC. The postseason national spotlight is new to them too. Killeen believes that adaptation when necessary is essential to triumph over their foe.
“We aren’t going to change our tactics walking onto the field,” Killeen said. “If need be, we can adapt and change. We’ll have surprises for them and they for us.”
The postseason national contest comes as a long awaited chance for the Saints who have not seen a national postseason match since 2002. It is the Saint’s senior class who will cherish this moment most.
“Its (national postseason appearance) surreal and exciting–especially as a senior,” Endrizzi. “I don’t want the season to end because its the last chance to play with this team.”
As kickoff approaches, the Saints anticipate a fierce contest.
“Its going to probably be the toughest game of the season,” Killeen said. “But we definitely have the talent to beat them.”
The game was also moved from the WU Soccer Complex at Wingate to Mallard Creek High School in Charlotte, N.C., due to heavy rains from Tropical Storm Ida.