TAMPA - Inquiring minds want to know: How does the 2009 team compare to the 2005 national championship vintage?
There are similarities.
Andy McDermid again is coaching the Fort Lewis College men's soccer program at the Final Four.
John Cunliffe, star player turned coach, is back on the pitch.
Zane Wells spells Nick Clark as the Durango High School alumnus in the Skyhawks' goal.
There is a deep offense.
There is a versatile midfield.
There is a dynamic defense.
after his team's walk-through at the University of Tampa Pepin Stadium.
This year, our back four is as strong as either of those teams. Of course, those teams had Cliff Wilmes, Bryan
Eisenbraun, Adam Beach, Sean Flanagan, Ryan Kerr - a lot of great players, but I'd pit this back four against any of
them, and I think they'd stand on their own."
Two thousand and five was a national-championship season.
Two thousand and six was a national-championship runner-up season.
Two thousand and nine No. 1 FLC (22-1-0) will play No. 6 Le Moyne (18-2-3) at 9 a.m. (MST) today in the semifinals
of the NCAA Division II Men's Soccer Championships. (The game can be heard locally on KIUP 930 AM, online at
www.radiodurango.com and can be viewed via Web cast at www.ncaa.com. The Irish Embassy Pub will open its doors to the
public at 8 a.m. today for a special viewing of the playoff game.) No. 9 Lees-McRae (18-2-1) of Banner Elk, N.C., will play No. 20 Lewis (16-3-2) of Romeoville, Ill., at noon in the other national semifinal.
We're going to worry about what we do," said Kennedy, unconcerned with any of his opponents' possible tactics. Take
care of business. Continue to do what we do. We're going to preach that same mantra to the team to win."
Save for one freak neutral site cum home game in the 11th hour for then-nationally ranked Incarnate Word early this
season, that's all FLC has done: Win. Just like the 2005 team, and just like the 2006 team.
This side is every bit as green as the '05 and '06 pitch, too.
There is no Cunliffe to set up or score a last-second goal to victory, but there are Euan Purcells, David Bardens, Joe Barnds and Abdel Becerras.
We've got guys that will score goals as needed," defenseman Fabian Kling said after sweating through Wednesday's
practice, 70 degrees and humid. The pressure is not just on Euan anymore."
The midfielders score goals, too.
Dimosthenis Krymanidis is a left-footed tank; Thomas Hoang is the offensive middle; Jeff Jennings is the defensive
middle; Tom Settle leads the country in assists. Keane Hamilton, an injured starter, has been cleared to play, as
Top-ranked team in the country, top-ranked offense in the country," Kennedy said.
Defense, however, is the name of this game.
Like Wilmes and Eisenbraun before them, Kling and Jamie Cunningham are the bigs in the middle.
Like Beach and Flanagan before them, Kyle Wood and Sam Morris are the speed on the outside.
We push opponents back," said Morris, another injured starter who has been cleared to play in today's playoff game.
The outside wingers don't attack as much on us, and Jamie and Fabian eat up the long ball. They win balls in the
air, and they can win balls with their feet.
That's it. We know we're good at what we do, so we're just going to stick to that this weekend. We're not worried
about our opponent; let them worry about us."
Morris, who separated his shoulder 11 days ago in the quarterfinal, said he's healthy enough to start.
I'll do whatever it takes," he said, while the fullback's left shoulder was wrapped in ice.
Morris is the left-footed service for half of the Skyhawks' set pieces, and he is one half of the Skyhawks' speed
around the edge of opponents' defenses.
I don't think anyone gets as forward as we do on defense," said Kennedy, whose fullbacks consistently overlap
Krymanidis and Settle with dangerous runs deep into the opposing third of the pitch.
Woody and Settle on the right side, Dimo and Sam on the left most teams that try and play with us get destroyed,"
said Kling, the 6-foot-4 central defender next to Cunningham, a 6-2 second-team All-American. They get ripped apart.
They kick it at us, then you get me and Jamie's size, strength. They try to go wide, then you get the speed from our
It's very difficult to score on us. It's hard to break us down."
It's only happened 11 times this season, which is good for fourth-best in the country and is tied with FLC for tops
in the Final Four.
FLC has scored 99 goals this season, which is best in the nation and 57 goals better than Le Moyne.
Le Moyne has allowed 14 goals this season.
FLC has that guy," too, as Kling nodded to Wells, a two-time All-American keeper who saved the Skyhawks' season by
putting his mitts on a second-half penalty kick to preserve a 1-0 victory in the quarters.
I've worked closely with Zane for three years now, and I told him when we first started that he was going to be an
All-American," said Kennedy, who started as the goalkeepers coach in 2006.
I said he was going to win a national championship, too. Now we're two games away to do it, and I plan on fulfilling