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1-0; Hood, 4-2; and Widener, 2-0;

to wrap up the first undefeated

conference slate in the 58-year

history of the soccer program.

“If we get into the second half

of a game and it is still tied, we feel

we’re in a good spot,” Gibboney

said. “One of the things we pride

ourselves on is being one of the

fittest teams in the country.

Another thing we have is great

depth. A lot of teams will play with

three or four substitutes, but we

played with eight to 10, so as a game

went on, we were able to wear a lot

of teams down. That played out

with so many of our goals coming

later in games.”

The MAC Commonwealth

Tournament found the team

leaning on a new hero. Freshman

Sainclair Tueno, from Ivory

Coast by way of Maryland, scored

winning goals in both tournament

games, with a mighty kick into the

right corner of the net for a 1-0

conference championship win over

Messiah.

In the process, Lycoming ended

Messiah’s season shy of the Division

III Championship for the first time

in 18 years, doing it in front of a

jam-packed crowd at the Shangraw

Athletic Complex that rushed onto

the field to celebrate as the final

horn blew.

“The atmosphere and support

provided by the student body,

faculty, staff and even fans from

the Williamsport community was

tremendous,” Gibboney said. “Once

we got to the end of the year and

into the postseason, the atmosphere

from all of those games was a huge

advantage. The team loved playing

in front of those big crowds full of

family and friends.”

After winning the program’s

second MAC Commonwealth title

After an opening day loss in

overtime to Eastern, the team didn’t

lose again for 81 days. In that time,

the Warriors recorded a season for

the ages.

It could have gone south quickly

for the team, too. In their third

game, the Warriors fell behind York,

2-0, before scoring twice in the final

nine minutes to force overtime.

Abdullahi Abdi, a Somali refugee

born in Kenya, provided the game-

winning penalty kick goal in the

105th minute. In their next outing,

the Warriors fell behind rival

Susquehanna in the Battle of the

Boot before a three-goal outburst

ensured a 4-2 win, Gibboney’s first

over his alma mater.

“We knew coming into the

season that our first few games

were going to be really difficult,”

Gibboney said. “Our backs were

up against the wall after losing to

Eastern, and then trailing York.

With no seniors on the squad, those

younger players had to step up and

play at a higher level. I give all the

credit to our guys, who continued

the battle. That is the game that got

us going and feeling good about

ourselves.”

As the weeks rolled past, wins

continued to add up and even when

it looked like the team would be

stymied, it found a way to answer

the adversity. Down 1-0 at Arcadia,

Kyle Stettenbauer drilled a goal

in the 87th minute to ensure a tie.

In their next outing, the Warriors

stopped Messiah’s 52-game MAC

Commonwealth unbeaten streak,

as Abdi and All-American Kyle

Thomas scored in the win.

Lycoming had to break second-

half ties in each of its last four

regular-season games, and did so

with aplomb each time, beating

Alvernia, 2-1; Lebanon Valley,

in three years, the Warriors - once

an outsider on the national scene -

had begrudgingly won the respect

of the pollsters and the NCAA

rankings committee, leaping to

15th in the National Soccer Coaches

Association of America poll.

The NCAA rewarded the

Warriors for their fine work, as

Lycoming College was announced

host of a four-team regional for

the first and second rounds of the

championship, the first time in 11

years the College hosted an NCAA

postseason event in any sport. In

front of packed crowds on a mid-

November weekend, Lycoming

posted a 1-0 win over Johnson &

Wales and a 2-1 win over Dickinson

to reach the Division III Sweet 16,

where eventual national champion,

Amherst, finally knocked Lycoming

out of the tournament with a 2-0

loss.

That 81-day stretch without

a loss, though, left one heck of a

string of memories — a school-

record 20-game unbeaten streak,

a school-record 18 wins, a school-

record 13 shutouts. Several players

transformed into stars — Abdi

and Jordan Logan were both

Second Team All-Mid-Atlantic

Region and First Team All-MAC

Commonwealth selections. Thomas,

the team’s central back, not only

earned Second Team All-American

honors, but was also named the

MAC Commonwealth Defensive

Player of the Year. All three players

were just sophomores.

“This is a solid group that

we were able to build around,”

Gibboney said. “As long as we

continue to push each other like we

have and play together as a group,

the future continues to be bright.”

27

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AT H L E T I C F E AT U R E