For the second time in as many years, the Lipscomb men’s soccer team is going to the NCAA tournament.
In a brutally cold match at the Lipscomb Soccer Complex, the one-seeded Bisons beat the six-seeded Stetson Hatters by a score of 2-0 on Saturday night.
It was a big moment for head coach Charles Morrow, who happily celebrated a Gatorade bath and posed for trophy pictures with his team after the game.
“It’s real good to be back here again and get another crack at trying to move on, and get to the NCAA tournament and see what we can do there,” Morrow said.
Redshirt senior forward Logan Paynter scored two goals and received the ASUN Tournament MVP. To make the night even more memorable, Paynter set Lipscomb’s program record for career goals by scoring the 34th and 35th tallies of his career.
“My teammates did amazing to get me the ball in those spots,” Paynter said. “And, I mean we played such a great game all around, every single player.”
Paynter’s first goal came in the 39th minute. It appeared that Stetson goalie Braeden Luna would recover the ball off a slow bounce, but it instead went past him and into the net, giving Lipscomb a 1-0 lead.
In the 53rd minute, redshirt sophomore midfielder Ben Locke passed the ball to Paynter, who outran his defender and booted it past Luna for the second and final tally of the night.
“I sure do hope we’re going to work hard to showcase what he can do in the NCAA tournament and showcase what he can do [for] pro teams,” Morrow said. “Cause I think he’ll make somebody very, very happy.”
It was an emotional game, full of physical contact, foul calls and no-calls that got the players and fans riled up. A total of seven yellow cards were issued — three on Lipscomb and four on Stetson. It almost looked like a fight would break out in the 55th minute, but cooler heads prevailed.
Late in the game, Lipscomb freshman midfielder Ryan Dougherty stayed on the ground for a few minutes while nursing what looked like a wound on his head, although he later returned to the game.
“I don’t feel like [there] was any dirty play,” Morrow said. “I mean, I felt like they were chasing the game a little bit, and you saw some effort fouls. And that’s really on the officials to deal with, and I thought for the most part they did a pretty good job dealing with that.”
The victory continued the dominance that Lipscomb athletics has shown in the ASUN this season. Lipscomb’s women’s cross-country, women’s soccer and men’s soccer teams all have clinched NCAA berths. It will be up to the volleyball team to continue that trend on Thursday when they open their ASUN tournament against North Florida.
The men’s soccer team improved to 9-9 with the victory, while Stetson dropped to 7-10-2. Lipscomb fans can find out where the Bisons will open NCAA tournament play on Monday during the NCAA.com Selection Show. Details for a Selection Show watch party have yet to be announced.
Lipscomb dropped a 2-0 contest at Butler in their first-ever NCAA appearance last season, but Morrow believes that experience will help the Bisons this time around.
“I think it’s just a confidence and a belief that we belong there, and that we can go in and get a result,” Morrow said. “No matter who we draw.”
Photo courtesy of the ASUN Conference