Men's soccer outlasts W&L for ODAC championship

Lynchburg's team poses with the championship trophy.

Lynchburg, Va. -- Along with the Old Dominion Athletic Conference championship trophy, Fredy Flores will have another souvenir from Sunday's league title match.

In the celebration on Shellenberger Field following Lynchburg's 2-1 championship victory over Washington and Lee, Flores lifted up his shirt, showing off a welt on his ribcage.

Evidence of the game-winning goal.

In the first minute of the halftime break, Lynchburg boasting a 1-0 lead, the Generals defense played a ball back to keeper Gillen Beck to clear out. But Flores hustled after the play and leapt to block the keeper's kick. It hit Flores squarely in the abdomen and caromed into the goal.

"I just happened to pressure at the right time, and he hit it off of me," Flores said.

But the goal was huge for the Hornets' momentum. Washington and Lee escaped disaster in the first half, thwarting a few LC opportunities that could have allowed the Hornets to cruise into halftime leading by more than one.

The one goal Lynchburg did net in the first half came on their first opportunity. In the sixth minute, the Hornets applied their first offensive pressure of the game, and the ball found senior striker Jon Mackey in the box. Mackey headed the ball in front of the goal, where sophomore Jack Ashby finished it cleanly. The goal was just Ashby's fourth of the season, but it was the Delaware native's second of the tournament, and it really set the tone for Lynchburg.

The early goal, Flores said, was really freeing for the Hornets.

"It let us open up and play the kind of match we wanted to play," he said.

But Lynchburg couldn't add on despite ample opportunity.

The Hornets earned three corner kicks in an eight-minute span midway through the half, but one shot was blocked, another missed wide, and the third, a great look by semifinal hero Bhayle Kearns, was saved by Beck.

Just before halftime, the Hornets got behind the W&L defense and had a two-on-one with the Generals keeper, but the shot sailed high and the advantage remained 1-0.

The frustrations of the first half made Flores' 46th-minute score even bigger, according to Lynchburg keeper Dylan McLaurin.

"It changed the story of the game," the junior said. "We knew whoever got the next goal, it was going to change the momentum of the game."

In the waning minutes, Washington and Lee turned up the heat. Managing just five shots in the first half, the Generals took 12 in the final 45 minutes, making use of a whopping seven corner kicks.

McLaurin was there almost every time. The junior made seven saves, solidifying his spot on the All-Tournament team. Lynchburg defenders Kearns and Austin Kues joined him with the honors, as did senior midfielder Nate Berning.

W&L finally broke through the Lynchburg defense in the 87th minute when Tyler Runge broke through with a goal, but the Hornet defense held as time expired, and the celebration was on at Shellenberger for the second-straight year.

For McLaurin, going back-to-back made the accomplishment that much sweeter.

"Going back-to-back is pretty hard, especially in a conference like this," the LC keeper said. "We knew that we had the talent to do it, and we knew that we just had to play our game."

Sunday's championship was the 16th in Lynchburg men's soccer program history but the first in an odd year since 2009.

Additionally, Sunday marked just the third time in LC history that both the men's and women's soccer teams carried ODAC titles. In the previous two instances, 2010 and 2014, one of the two programs reached the Division III national championship match.

To find out their path back to the last game of the Division III soccer season, Lynchburg's men will look forward to Monday's NCAA selection show, which will be broadcast at 1:30 p.m. on NCAA.com.

 

2017 ODAC Men's Soccer All-Tournament Team

Nate Berning, Lynchburg
Brian Breslin, Randolph-Macon
Travis Brown, Randolph
Frankie DiOrio, Randolph
Oliver Dolberg, Washington and Lee
Will Hamryka, Washington and Lee
Bhayle Kearns, Lynchburg
Sterling Kirk, Washington and Lee
Austin Kues, Lynchburg
Dylan McLaurin, Lynchburg
Christian Torres, Randolph-Macon

--LC--