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Cougars Beat Southeastern to Win Regional Championship and Advance to NCCAA II National Tournament

(11/1/09) Clearwater Christian College defeated the host team Southeastern University 1-0 on Saturday night to win the NCCAA II South Region Championship in Lakeland, Florida. The Cougars were ranked #3 in the nation coming into the match, and the Fire were ranked #7. The game winning goal came in the 40th minute of the first half when Carl Lassegue scored off a through ball from Tyler Spraul to put the Cougars in command.

Early in the match, the Cougar defense was tested as Southeastern played very direct, putting the Cougars under pressure as they looked to seize an early lead for the Fire. The Cougar defense, led by keeper Anthony DeRosse and defenders Matt Tewes, Jeff Crews, and Lucas Hollenbach were up to the challenge and were able to keep the Fire away. Midway through the first half, the Cougars regained the momentum and began to open up the Fire defense and create opportunities to score. Near the end of the first half, the Cougars finally capitalized on a free kick in the midfield 3rd as Matt Tewes played a ball in that Bill Carlton flicked on to Tyler Spraul who split the Fire defenders to find Carl Lassegue who calmly beat the Southeastern keeper to score the eventual game-winning goal.

After making a couple tactical adjustments at halftime, the Cougars came out of the halftime very motivated, putting the Fire under pressure and intent on getting the 2nd goal to take control of the match. 10 minutes into the 2nd half, Juan Robayo found space behind the Southeastern defense and played a perfect ball across the goal mouth to Adam Stallings whose volley barely missed over the crossbar. The game continued to go back and forth from end to end as both teams continued to pressure the opponent’s goal. The Cougar defense showed why it has led the nation in goals per game as they continued to battle and kept the Fire at bay.

As the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard, the Cougar team and fans celebrated a hard-fought win and the South Region Championship. After the match, Coach Whitaker said, “We knew this was going to be a 90 minute match. I’m so proud of our guys and the way they battled against a great Southeastern team. Our team has played so hard for each other all season, and I think we’re coming together at the perfect time. We’re thrilled to be representing the South Region in the National Tournament, and we’re going to be ready to compete in Kissimmee in a couple weeks.”

With the win, Clearwater improved their record to 13-1-3 and also earned an automatic bid to the NCCAA II National Tournament on November 12-16 in Kissimmee, Florida. The NCCAA National Committee will announce the field and seeding for the National Tournament on Monday, November 2.

All-Region awards were also given out at the tournament with 8 Clearwater players earning honors. Tyler Spraul was named South Region Player of the Year, joined by Anthony DeRosse, Juan Robayo, and Matt Tewes as 1st Team All Region members. Jeff Crews was named to the 2nd Team All-Region Team; and Bill Carlton, Drew Custer, and Adam Stallings were all named Honorable Mention All-Region.