Thursday, December 16
Lavrinenko lifts trophy for Indiana
Associated Press

 CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Another year, another goal to win a national championship.

Yuri Lavrinenko is getting quite good at this.

The Indiana midfielder provided all the scoring the Hoosiers needed Sunday to beat Santa Clara 1-0 and capture their second consecutive NCAA soccer title.

T.J. Hannig
Indiana goalkeeper T.J. Hannig, right, blocks a header by Santa Clara's Shawn Percell, left, as the Broncos' Jeff Stewart closes in.

"Winning championships, that's a dream," said Lavrinenko, the MVP of the NCAA Final Four. "Game-winning goals and everything else, it's secondary."

Indiana (21-3) became the first team to retain its title since Virginia won its fourth consecutive championship in 1994. The Hoosiers won last year's crown on a goal by Lavrinenko against Stanford.

This time, Lavrinenko scored in the 30th minute. He took a short feed from Aleksey Korol and sent a hard 15-foot roller that Rusty Johnson could not stop.

Indiana's fifth soccer title set off a long celebration by the Hoosiers and coach Jerry Yeagley, who was making his 10th appearance in the championship game in 27 years with the program.

"It's just something that's indescribable, the feeling of winning a championship, no matter if you've won one before or not," Yeagley said.

Santa Clara (16-4-3) came up short in a bid for its first outright title. The Broncos shared the crown with Virginia in 1989.

"I felt we really had to play our best to beat them, and I don't think we did," Santa Clara coach Mitch Murray said.

Both teams played into quadruple overtime in Friday's semifinals, and the effects showed Sunday. Santa Clara had three shots on goal, one more than Indiana's total.

"There wasn't quite the energy that I would expect from a final," Murray said. "But maybe Friday had something to do with that."

Indiana and Santa Clara were meeting in the title game for the first time, but the two schools are hardly strangers on the soccer field. Indiana defeated Santa Clara 4-0 in last year's NCAA semifinals, the Hoosiers' first victory over the Broncos in four tries.

The Broncos had their chances Sunday, including one in the 39th minute when Jay Totten's blast got past Indiana goalkeeper T.J. Hannig. As the ball sailed toward the open goal, the Hoosiers' John Swann rushed up and headed it over the cross bar.

It was more of the same in the 70th minute when Santa Clara's Anthony Chimienti fired a hard shot that Hannig couldn't handle. But this time Indiana's Nick Garcia headed it off the top of the bar and over the end line.

Garcia said the play was as important as any big goal he had ever scored.

"It was just a natural reaction," he said. "I remember it skimming off my head. I thought it went in."

Garcia, honored as the Final Four's outstanding defender, said after the game he will skip his final season and turn pro.

The Final Four was held at 73,265-seat Ericsson Stadium for the first time, and struggled to find many fans willing to pay $70 ticket prices for the three games.

The semifinals drew an announced crowd of 13,231, though the actual attendance appeared to be about 8,000. It was similar on Sunday when organizers announced a crowd of 15,439, though it looked closer to 9,000.

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