With rain swirling and wind blowing, the night was perfect for the Lipscomb men’s soccer team as the Bisons celebrated their first-ever ASUN Championship with a 2-1 victory over Jacksonville in the ASUN Final.
“This feels great,” Lipscomb head coach Charles Morrow said. “I am so happy for these guys and our coaches. This win is big for our program. I could not be more excited to finally be able to bring back a championship. It’s a great feeling.
“What a tremendous job by JU to get to this game. They found their stride late in the season and found a way to be dangerous, but tonight we were the better side.”
With the win, the Bisons earn the ASUN’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament where they will be a first-time participant. They will find out their first round opponent during the NCAA Selection Show on Monday at Noon.
Lipscomb (11-7-2) looked the better side all night and the champions opened the scoring in the first half as senior Kyle Smith buried a Logan Paynter rebound to give the Bisons a 1-0 lead.
“We knew getting the first goal was going to be important tonight ant that it would change the match significantly,” Morrow said. “To be able to get one in the first half was huge.”
After the Dolphins (6-10-1) tied the match early in the second half, the Bisons answered quickly with a converted penalty. Senior Eduardo Reza capitalized on a handball in the box from the Dolphins to restore the one goal lead in the 68th minute. It was his third score on the season.
“Tonight was a trap game,” Morrow said. “We knew we would have a lot of the ball and that they (JU) would play for counters. I thought our guys did a good job of managing the game. I felt we could have been a little more composed at times and less frantic, but in terms of limiting opportunities, I thought we did a fantastic job.”
The final 22 minutes belonged to Lipscomb as the Bisons ran out the clock before dogpiling on the pitch.
Five Bisons made the All-Tournament team, led by MVP Ivan Sakou, who scored three goals in the championship run. Joining the senior striker on the team was Logan Paynter, Ivan Alvarado, Ryan Birchfield and Eduardo Reza.
“Ivan has had a great tournament,” Morrow said. “Without him we don’t win it. He was so huge and the MVP honor is well deserved. In terms of production, he sometimes doesn’t show up on the score sheet like tonight, but the job he did in holding up the ball and working to press was fantastic.”
- The Bisons are the first 6-seed to ever win the conference championship.
- Smith’s goal gives him two this season and four in his career.
- With his assist on Smith’s score, Paynter upped his season point total to 23 – second most in the conference this season. He has 61 points in his career.
- With 11 wins on the year, Lipscomb is just one victory shy of tying the program’s single-season record set in 2014 when it finished 12-4-1.
- Christopher Zappia was credited with two saves in the win. He has played 1877:41 minutes in net this season.
- Sakou led the way with five shots for the Bisons. He put a team high two on target. Smith attempted four.
- The Bisons only made three subs in the match: Jonathan Ramirez, John Wynia and Ihaia Delaney.
The Bisons will play the first round of the NCAA Tournament next Thursday, November 16. The location and opponent will not be known until the selection show on Monday.