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Men's Soccer Claims Peach Belt on the Pitch

Mar 22, 2010
by Devon Jeffreys, '08

Sometimes a little change goes a long way. But for the 2009 Flagler men’s soccer team, it was actually a drastic change after a rough start that took them all the way to their first Peach Belt Conference title. Even more impressive, this was Flagler’s first year competing in the Peach Belt.

When his team suffered back-to-back losses to open the season, Flagler soccer Coach John Lynch knew some changes were in order, especially after a 6-1 loss in their second game.

“In the second game of the season we played dreadful. We lost 6-1,” Lynch said. “We had to do something dramatic and we did that weekend in trying to wake the group up. We made massive changes in personnel and we made a big change in tactics.”

The changes prompted a new beginning for Flagler, and the Saints went on to reel off wins in 11 of their final 14 regular-season games. Their mid-season surge included six wins in seven conference games, and they secured the Peach Belt Conference regular-season championship on Halloween with a 3-1 win over conference power Francis Marion on Flagler Field.

“Everyone was so excited that we finally made it into a conference and had something to play for. Being able to win it the first year was an amazing feeling,” said junior goaltender Matt Gilman, who finished his first season at Flagler with 14 victories and six shutouts.

Entering the season, Flagler’s coaches and players knew very little about their Peach Belt Conference foes. But when preseason rankings were released and the Saints saw themselves ranked seventh in a nine-team conference, they were both excited and motivated.

For Lynch, the year also brought an important milestone — he notched his 100th win as Flagler’s coach against North Georgia and was named Peach Belt Conference Coach of the Year.

Flagler moved into the NCAA Division II National Tournament ranked fifth in their region, but fell 4-0 to Wingate in the regional quarterfinals.

“We did a lot of good things,” Lynch said about the season. “We faced a lot of unknowns and to come out as champions and do it in the style we did, it was really, really satisfying.”

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