By John Jordan
Special to The Gargoyle
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Flagler College men’s soccer team (14-5-2), the Peach Belt Conference regular season champions, will take on Wingate University (12-4-1) of the South Atlantic Conference Wednesday night at 7 p.m., in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional at the WU Soccer Complex in Wingate, N.C.
The winner advances to take on No. 1 seed Lees-McRae College of Banner Elk, N.C., on Friday at 7 p.m.
Flagler, the No. 5 seed, is coming off a 2-2 tie with Lander University in the PBC Tournament championship match on Sunday which ended in a 4-3 shootout decision for Lander. The Saints are riding a seven-match unbeaten streak in to Wednesday’s first round match. Leading the way offensively for Flagler is local product Mack Hough (St. Augustine, Fla./Pedro Menendez HS). He has tallied a team-high 25 points and also leads the team with 10 goals. Pol Berenguer (Barcelona, Spain/St. Augustine HS) has recorded 15 points and scored seven goals and earned second team All-Peach Belt honors. Johan Bergfeld (Akers Styckebruk, Sweden/Rekarnegymnasiet) earned first team all-conference and all-tournament honors. Conor Killeen (Dublin, Ireland/Colaiste Ide) also earned all-conference honors and is tied for the team lead with six assists.
Flagler’s defenders have been a formidable quartet. Steven Carothers (Apopka, Fla./Bishop Moore HS) and Ryan Endrizzi (Apopka, Fla./Bishop Moore HS) were named to the conference’s all-tournament team and Kevin Partel (St. Augustine, Fla./St. Joseph Academy) was selected second team all-conference.
Transfer keeper Matt Gilman (Ocala, Fla./Jacksonville U.) has a 14-3-1 record this season to go along with six shutouts and a 1.23 goals against average.
Head Coach John Lynch is in his 11th year at Flagler and was named Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year. Joseph Toby (Jacksonville, Fla./Wolfson HS) earned PBC Freshman of the Year honors after scoring four goals and assisting on six more.
Wingate is no stranger to the NCAA postseason as it is making its third appearance in the field and first since 2007. Leading the Bulldogs is SAC Player of the Year Luke Mulholland. He has scored 15 goals this season and has three assists. Junior Nyemb, an All-SAC member, is second on the team with nine goals. Wingate is solid defensively as well. Tom Poole is a first team All-SAC selection while Jack Vundum was a second team honoree.
The last time Flagler reached a national postseason championship was in 2002. The Saints took on Mid-Continent College of Mayfield, Ky., and lost 2-1 in the first round of the NAIA National Championships in Bowling Green, Ky.
Fellow conference member, Lander, is the No. 6 seed and they travel to Jefferson City, Tenn., to take on No. 3 seed Carson-Newman College on Wednesday. The winner of that match will take on No. 2 seed Anderson University on Friday at 4 p.m., in Banner Elk.