For the fourth time in the past six Atlantic Sun Conference Championship Finals, a familiar name will appear as the Stetson Hatters leaped past the Jacksonville Dolphins with a strike from the head of senior all-conference defender, Ryan Corning, in the 83rd minute to give the defending champions a 1-0 victory in the opening semifinal.
However, the Hatters will be looking for more than just their third A-Sun title and back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament. Corning and the rest of the Hatters’ squad will be searching to extend the program’s legacy and increase the men’s soccer tradition in DeLand, Fla.
“We expect to make it the final of the A-Sun Championship every year now and we have been building the program every season since my freshman season and even before that and over that time we have become a better team in hopes of becoming a top-25 program.”
In order to accomplish the feat of becoming a traditional top-25 program, Stetson will need to take down top-seeded ETSU or No. 4 seed Lipscomb, but for Hatters Head Coach Logan Fleck the tough game is over with, “Everyone says there is more pressure to win in the championship final, but I think getting to the championship is much harder.”
With the victory, Stetson has one day off to recuperate both mentally and physically for another championship game, which contrasts from their 11-day layoff from their season finale against Jacksonville on Oct. 31st.
“The idea for our team now is to revamp and to come out on Saturday and play our type of game,” Fleck stated. “This can be a special team because no Stetson team has been able to win back-to-back titles and advance to the NCAA Tournament. This team has accomplished a lot of special things together and they can add to that on Saturday.”
Corning’s goal was extra sweet for the Hatters after a 1-1 tie to the Dolphins in the finale cost Stetson the overall number one seed and host opportunity for the A-Sun Championship.
“It’s a great feeling to come back and get the win over a team we have a rivalry with and we have a lot of respect for Jacksonville’s program and they came out fighting, but we were able to get our revenge from the season finale and a chance for the A-Sun title.”