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November 8, 2011

Lutes Look To Continue Historic Season In So Cal

THIS WEEK:  After a historic season which saw the Pacific Lutheran University men's soccer team make it's first NCAA Division III national tournament, the Lutes will face a tough test right off the bat against the University of Redlands on Saturday.  The game will be the first-round of the tournament, and Redlands will be hosting the four team regional which also includes Chapman University and Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges.

FOLLOW THE LUTES: You can listen to the play-by-play call of PLU men's soccer at the regional tournament by going to http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/plu.portal#. The University of Redlands is also providing live stats here.

TOURNAMENT NOTES: PLU makes its first-ever NCAA Division III national tournament appearance with a 15-3 overall record after finishing as co-champion of the Northwest Conference. The Lutes earned the NWC's automatic berth in the tournament by virtue of beating fellow co-champion Whitworth by 1-0 scores in its two head-to-head contests. PLU is one of 41 teams in the 61-team tournament who earned automatic qualification into the tournament as a result of winning their regular season or conference tournament titles.  Tickets are required for all spectators at the Redlands Regional and may be purchased at Farquhar Field up to one hour prior to kick-off.  General admission is $6.  Students with school I.D. and senior citizens cost $3, while children ages 2-12 years old are $2.

ONLINE TOURNAMENT PROGRAM: For the first time, the NCAA is providing an online version of the Division III men's soccer tournament program. To view the program, click here.

GETTING TO KNOW THE OPPONENTS:  NCAA tournament-tested University of Redlands comes into the match with an 18-3-1 overall record, but had to receive one of 20 at-large bids after losing the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) postseason tournament to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in a shootout on Saturday.  While Pacific Lutheran is known for a prolific offense with a school-record 55 goals this season, the Lutes will be well-matched by Redlands.  The Bulldogs have amassed a whopping 79 goals in 21 matches, an average of 3.76 goals per contest.  They rank third in the country in that category, while PLU is 11th with its 3.06 goals per match.  Freshman Charles Izydorek leads the regular season (and unbeaten in 14 matches) SCIAC champs with 13 goals, followed by senior Cody Carlson with 12.  Junior Gabe Ramirez is the "table setter" with 10 assists so far this season.  Alex Laughton has contributed five goals and nine assists.  In all, 19 different players have scored goals and 18 have contributed assists for the Bulldogs.  Redlands also plays great defense, allowing just 13 goals this season.  It posted eight consecutive shutouts at one point and ended the season with 14 clean sheets, ranking it fifth in shutout percentage among Division III men's soccer programs.  Keeper Andreas Silva played the majority of the minutes and has a 0.63 goals against average.  

Claremont-Mudd-Scripps is the SCIAC champion this season, and comes into the tournament with a record of 13-5-2, 9-4-1 in SCIAC play.  Leading the Stags this season are juniors Harrison Doyle (13 goals, four assists) and Jared Bernstein (10 goals, 6 assists).  The Stags punched their ticket to the tourney by beating Redlands in a penalty-shootout in the final of the SCIAC tournament a week ago.  This will be the third consecutive trip for the Stags to the "Big Dance."

The Chapman Panthers will be the final team in the Redlands Regional.  The Panthers are playing in their ninth NCAA tournament, and the second in the past three years.  Sitting at 11-4-3 overall, Chapman earned an at-large bid as a provisional member of the SCIAC, and boasts several quality wins this season.  Beating Redlands and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, both teams that have made the NCAA tourney, the Panthers will be a tough opponent if the Lutes advance to the seocnd round.  

TRAVEL POTENTIAL:  If the Lutes win the Redlands Regional, they will have to travel to the Midwest for the third and fourth rounds.  The potential sites for those games include Iowa (Loras College) , Michigan (Calvin College), or Wisconsin (Carthage College).  The Lutes have had success in recent years in the Midwest, going 5-0 in trips to Minnesota and Wisconsin since 2007.  

UPS 1, PLU 0:  Pacific Lutheran's prolific offense couldn't find a way to get past the Puget Sound defense led by goalkeeper Chris McDonald, and as a result the Lutes were shut out for the first time this year in a 1-0 Northwest Conference men's soccer loss on Saturday afternoon.  Despite seeing its school-record 11-match winning streak come to an end, the Lutes finished the regular season 12-2 in the Northwest Conference and as co-champions with Whitworth. PLU earns the NWC's automatic berth in the NCAA Division III postseason tournament, however, based on a pair of victories over the Pirates this season.  The Lutes, now 15-3 overall, will find out on Monday morning who, and where, they will play in the opening round of the national tournament.  Puget Sound scored the only goal of the match in the 13th minute, and McDonald made it stand up with a number of stellar saves.  Colin McIntosh scored his third goal of the season on a scramble in the six-yard box following Landon Gauthier's corner kick just 12:10 into the match. The goal came with the run of play, and the Loggers continued to press the Lutes, finishing the first half with a 7-2 advantage in shots.  After their slow start, the Lutes showed their quality in the final 45 minutes, but they couldn't come up with the tying goal despite putting six of their nine shots on frame. McDonald made all six of his saves in the final period, including stopping a penalty kick by Chad Kearns in the 80th minute.  McDonald also benefited from the goalkeeper's best friend, the woodwork, when Spencer Augustin's 73rd minute header ricocheted off the crossbar.

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