EVANS, Ga. — Carson-Newman (16-5-1) knocked Simon Fraser (18-3-2) out of the running for an NCAA Division II national title with a 3-2 victory. The Eagles were propelled into the title game thanks to a last-minute goal by Joao Dowsley.
“We kept working until the last minute,” C-N coach Richard Moodie said. “That’s what this team is built on. We’ve worked hard every minute.
The Lads advance to the championship match against Southern New Hampshire (21-1-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday. “It’s the ideal situation to be in this weekend,” Moodie said. “I’m proud of the boys, proud of the effort.”
Jovan Blagojevic opened the scoring for Simon Fraser in the 14th minute with a diving header to the far post off a cross sent in by Chris Bargholz. Blagojevic now has 11 goals on the year.
At the end of the first half, the Eagles had outshot the Clan eight to six. Brandon Watson was credited three saves.
Ross Frame ended the first leading C-N in shots with three, one of which was on target. Nick Skoda released two shots and landed one on goal.
Five minutes into second half, Frame tied it up with a well-placed shot off a pass from Sindre Welo. Frame pushed his goal tally to 19, four off the single-season school record.
“The amount of late goals we’ve scored this year shows that we’re all together,” Frame said, “and that means a lot.”
Ten minutes later, Welo sent in a left-footed strike past Watson to take a 2-1 for the Eagles. Frame claimed the assist; he has 11 assists and 49 points for the year. Welo holds seven goals and eight assists giving him a total of 22 points.
“It means everything,” Welo said. “Our goal this season was to get to the national championship. From then we have taken it one game at a time. Everything can happen.”
With 26 minutes remaining, Juan Sanchez put another header into the back of the net to tie the match at two.
Dowsley gave the Eagles a 3-2 lead with just more than a minute to go off a ball sent into his feet from Kristian Speake. Dowsley went five-hole on both a defender and Watson.
“It’s just the greatest moment of my soccer career,” Dowsley said. “After injuries the whole season, there’s no better place to be than the national championship. When I kicked [the game winner] left-footed, I just put my shirt over my head because I knew the ball was going in.”
C-N keeper Rumwald Le Guevel made four saves while Watson had five.
Carson-Newman has made 11 national title game appearances as a school; this will be the school’s fourth as a Division II school across all sports. C-N has six national titles as a school, one in baseball and five in football. The last time an Eagle team was in a national title game was 1999 when the football team lost in a four-overtime thriller to Northwest Missouri State.
The South Atlantic Conference has never had an NCAA national champion in any sport. The last team to make it to the final game was the 2007 Lincoln Memorial men’s soccer team.
“You can’t be prouder than seeing these guys step up and win a game at this level,” Moodie said. “Everyone that was involved from Carson-Newman today made a great environment. It was fantastic to be a part of.”