Joe Flanagan is back.
Kevin Gallaugher is back.
They're not alone, either.
Fort Lewis College might be the No. 1 ranked side in the nation, but the Skyhawks will have to dethrone the defending
national champion if they wish to play soccer into December.
"This is last year's champion," FLC men's soccer coach Oige Kennedy said Friday night. "They're certainly not here by
default. They know what it takes to go all the way. We're looking forward to playing against that level of a team."
Cal State Dominguez Hills, the 15th-ranked side in the nation, returned six seniors and 13 players from last year's
19-2-4 championship team.
Flanagan won the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Coach of the Year award, his second this
decade after he led the Toros to a title in 2000, as well.
Gallaugher won the NSCAA Player of the Year award.
"They're still well-experienced," Kennedy said.
FLC (21-1-0) will host Cal State Dominguez Hills (17-5-1) at 1 p.m. Sunday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division
II Men's Soccer Championships. The winner will advance to the Final Four on Dec. 3-5 at the University of Tampa in
"The boys look good. They're working hard," Kennedy said. "They're ready for this."
Ready for what, exactly, the first-year coach isn't quite sure. He's seen tapes, of course, "but you really don't
know until you play 'em on your field.
"They've got weapons on the offensive side; they're tough on the defensive side," he said. "This will be the toughest
game of the year for us, for sure."
Gallaugher, a four-time All-American, is the Toros' most recognizable figure, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior
defenseman. The reigning player of the year has six goals this season and is one of five Toros in double figures in
Andrew Marinez leads the team with 25 points.
Greg Piechota leads the team with 10 goals.
Markus Dickerson, a freshman, is this year's goalkeeper. He is 17-4 overall with 11 shutouts, an .833 save percentage
and a .750 goals against average.
Of course, FLC can stack statistics side by side with any team in the nation.
Fort Lewis leads all divisions in goals scored (98).
Euan Purcell is one of the nation's top goal scorers (18).
Tom Settle is the division's top set-up man (20).
Zane Wells is one of the nation's top goalkeepers.
Fort Lewis, too, has some experience in big games.
David Barden, Jeff Jennings, Settle and Wells all were a part of the Skyhawks' national runner-up season in 2006.
Barden and Jennings were starters in their 1-0 championship loss to Dowling that season in Pensacola, Fla.
Since, the Skyhawks have bowed out of the national tournament in the first and second rounds, respectively.
Prior, the Skyhawks defeated CSDH in the quarterfinals en route to the program's only national championship in 2005.
"I'm certainly aware of the past," said Kennedy, who started as an assistant coach at FLC the season after that
infamous '05 home finale.
There was a midgame streaker.
There was a postgame brawl.
"These are two different teams - coaches have moved on from FLC. I'm sure Cal State Dominguez Hills remembers it, but
those are fond memories for us," said Kennedy, referring to the Skyhawks' subsequent 6-4 semifinal victory over Lynn
and 3-1 championship victory over Franklin Pierce in Wichita Falls, Texas, for the national title.
"Hopefully, we can accomplish that same result."