ERIE, Pa. — Top-ranked Southern New Hampshire is headed to the NCAA Division II semifinals after besting No. 22 Mercyhurst University 5-4 in a penalty kick shootout after the two teams battled to a 0-0 double-overtime tie Sunday afternoon at the Mercyhurst Soccer Field. The Penmen are now 20-1-1 overall and advance to the Division II semifinals December 5 in Evans, Ga.
The Penmen advance to the Division II semifinals for the third time in program history, joining 1989 and 2002. The Penmen advanced to the final in each of those years, winning the national championship in 1989 and finishing as runner-up in 2002.
In the penalty kick round, SNHU senior keeper Dom DiMaggio made the only save of the extra session as he snuffed out a shot by Matt Campana in the third round. Senior Christian Rodriguez clinched advancement for the Penmen when he made his penalty kick in the fifth round.
With Mercyhurst shooting first, both teams converted their first two penalty kick opportunities, with Danny Deakin and Sten Marcson converting for the Lakers and Pierre Omanga and Mohamed Toufik for SNHU. DiMaggio came up with his save of Campana in the third round before Jonathan Lupinelli scored to give the Penmen a 3-2 lead. Joseph Korb and Ryan Lund converted for Mercyhurst, but Yannick Kabala and Rodriguez converted to advance SNHU.
After an uneventful first half that saw Mercyhurst outshoot SNHU 6-0 with just one on target, things started to get interesting towards the end of regulation. With just under 17 minutes to play, Toufik lifted a free kick from just outside the top of the 18 that nearly found the upper right corner, but Mercyhurst keeper Mikko Sarkkinen made a diving one-handed save to keep the game scoreless. At the 79:49 mark, DiMaggio made a sliding stop on a Fernando Martinez attempt to keep Mercyhurst off the board.
Southern New Hampshire outshot Mercyhurst 7-2 in the two overtime sessions and put five shots on target, but all five were turned away by Sarkkinen.
DiMaggio finished with four saves en route to his eighth shutout of the season and fourth of the postseason, while Sarkkinen made nine saves as SNHU outshot Mercyhurst 15-12. The Penmen also had three of the game’s four corner kicks as it avenged a 2-1 loss to the Lakers in last year’s quarterfinal round.