MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For the second time in three seasons, the University of Charleston men’s soccer team will take the field in the NCAA Division II Championship match.
The Golden Eagles rallied from an early deficit to eliminate Lynn University, 3-1 Thursday evening in the NCAA semifinals in Pittsburgh. UC (21-2-1) will face Cal State LA (19-0-3) Saturday in the title match. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. and the match will be broadcast at ncaa.com.
“We are in a good run of form and hopefully it can continue for another 36 hours,” said Charleston head coach Dan Stratford. He was a guest on MetroNews Talkline Friday morning.
Gabriel Rodriguez (35′), Christos Charalambous (39′) and Ettore Ballestracci (85′) scored the goals for Charleston in the semifinal.
Charleston has outscored their opposition 85-8 this season and they feature a deep roster. 21 players have started at least one match and and 17 players logged at least 15 minutes in Thursday’s semifinal.
“It has been a huge feature since 2014 when I came to the program as an assistant coach and it has become an even more prominent feature as the years have progressed,” Stratford said. “It takes two and a half months to prove to our players that depth is a good thing.”
“There are no big egos amongst what we have. Everyone is incredibly humble.”
Charleston is seeking their second national championship in three seasons under Stratford.
“We have about five or six players that played significant minutes in the final in 2017,” Stratford said. “Playing in the semifinal last night and getting through some of the nerves of being at the Final Four will help them. It is the biggest stage for us.”
Stratford is a WVU graduate (’07) and he remains the West Virginia program leader in matches played (85) and is second in assists (27).
“I moved to the states (from England) in 2004 and I never really left West Virginia for a great deal of time in the last fifteen years,” Stratford said. “It is crazy to think how time flies.”
Cal State LA defeated Indianapolis 3-0 in Thursday’s opening semifinal match.
“They are very well organized,” Stratford said. “They are a counterattack type of team. That’s not uncommon to what we face during the season. So there will be some familiarities.”