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Indiana Takes NCAA Title

Men's soccer: Goal by Lavrinenko and spectacular save by defender Garcia hold off Santa Clara, 1-0.

December 13, 1999|SCOTT MOE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — After playing four overtimes in their semifinal victories less than 48 hours earlier, the Indiana and Santa Clara men's soccer teams were far from fresh Sunday.

But Yuri Lavrinenko had enough energy to make one magical run and lead the Hoosiers to the NCAA title in the College Cup final before 15,439 at Ericsson Stadium.

Lavrinenko's give-and-go with Aleksey Korol in the 30th minute broke a scoreless tie as the Hoosiers defeated the Broncos, 1-0, for their second consecutive national championship and fifth overall.

After a Santa Clara attack was stopped by midfielder Pat Noonan, Lavrinenko took the ball close to the midfield stripe and looked to counter. "I started dribbling forward and was looking to pass it right away," said Lavrinenko, voted the most outstanding offensive player of the Cup. "But the movement of our players forced the Santa Clara defenders to move and that opened a seam for me."

Lavrinenko went on a 35-yard run down the left flank with the ball, passing off to Korol at the penalty box. Lavrinenko kept pushing and his defender didn't follow. When Korol gave him the ball back, Lavrinenko had only goalkeeper Rusty Johnson to beat with a shot angled into the back right corner of the net from seven yards out.

As big as the victory was for Indiana (21-3), the Hoosiers also endured a loss of sorts after the game when junior Nick Garcia, the nation's top defender, announced he will not return next season.

"It is in my best interest to leave Indiana University soccer and pursue professional interests whether it be overseas or here with the MLS," said Garcia, named the Cup's most outstanding defensive player for the second consecutive year.

But he gave Indiana fans perhaps his greatest highlight Sunday before he left.

With 20 minutes left and Santa Clara (16-4-3) getting a throw-in deep in Indiana's side, Garcia made the save of the season. Justin Canel's throw-in was deflected off a header onto the foot of a wide-open Anthony Chimienti seven yards out and to the right of the goal. He shot it past goalkeeper T.J. Hannig and the ball was on its way in when Garcia made an unbelievable diving header for the save at the goal mouth. "I thought it was a goal," said Garcia, who dived so far and so fast, he landed in the back of the net. "I thought there was no way I saved it. . . . It barely skimmed off my head."

But it didn't cross the line, and the Hoosiers held off the Broncos' frantic final rushes, controlling the ball for the final minute.

Indiana Coach Jerry Yeagley became the fifth coach to win at least five men's NCAA championships. Korol's assist gave him 29 career points in tournament play, tying him with two others for the Division I men's record.

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