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Chapman Soccer One Victory From Final Four

Gregg Murphy is a happy man these days. Murphy, in his sixth season as the Chapman men’s soccer coach, saw his program reach a milestone by beating UC San Diego for the NCAA Division III West Regional championship Sunday.

“This has been five years of dreaming and hoping but basically working,” Murphy said. “There are a lot of people who are vicariously living with this team right now. The players that started with us five years ago are just living and dying with Chapman soccer.”

Murphy says he receives telephone calls from former players daily.

Local fans will have one final chance to see the Panthers play this season, when Chapman plays host to Ohio Wesleyan at 1 p.m. Sunday.

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A victory would put Chapman (17-3), ranked sixth in a national poll, in the Division III final four. No. 12 Ohio Wesleyan (17-2-2) is the Great Lakes Region champion.

Murphy said the victory over San Diego was thrilling. “We want nothing more than for our players to experience the thrill and excitement of advancing as far as possible,” he said. “To see them Sunday after the game made the last five years of banging my head against the wall sometimes worth it. Every bump on my head was worthwhile.”

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Chapman broke through against San Diego Sunday when Jason DeLucca scored from near the 18-yard line. DeLucca, the Panthers’ stopper, had moved up for a corner kick. His shot came when he volleyed the pass off one bounce.

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The goal, midway through the second half and the Panthers’ first against San Diego since 1993, started a celebration. But at least one Panther player didn’t join in--goalkeeper Craig Bennett.

“I turned around and didn’t even watch them celebrate,” Bennett said. “I knew the last 20 minutes were going to come down to us in the back. I knew they would send everything at us and they did.”

With about 10 minutes left, a San Diego player broke free for a header to the lower corner of the goal.

“The guy crushed a header that Craig had to literally almost pull out of the back of the net,” Murphy said.

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Bennett, who also had a shutout in the 2-0 first-round victory over Colorado College to give him nine for the season, said marking fullbacks Joe Hernandez and Shawn Kailey helped take San Diego out of its game. San Diego was held to two shots on goal.

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The Chapman women’s volleyball team received an NCAA Division III playoff berth for the second consecutive season, but this time it was a surprise.

The Panthers lost six of their final seven matches, but beat La Verne in three games Thursday and gave UC San Diego a battle Friday before the Tritons won, 4-15, 15-5, 15-12, 15-13.

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Fourth-seeded Chapman (13-12) will play top-seeded Cal Lutheran (23-2) in a first-round match Friday at UC San Diego. The winner will play the victor of the match between San Diego and Occidental on Saturday in San Diego.

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Because of a quirk in the NAIA Far West Regional women’s volleyball playoff system, Concordia will play host to Cal Baptist in a first-round match at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Concordia (17-2) finished in a tie for sixth in the Golden State Athletic Conference. Cal Baptist (13-10), ranked 18th in the nation in NAIA, finished in a tie for third and beat the Eagles twice this season. The point system that determined playoff seedings, gave Concordia the fourth seeding and Cal Baptist the fifth.

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The Southern California College men’s cross-country team received an at-large berth in the NAIA cross-country championships, which will be held Nov. 18 in Kenosha, Wis.

SCC, ranked 17th in the NAIA, was third in the Golden State Athletic Conference meet Saturday with 69 points, behind Azusa Pacific (22) and Westmont (54).

Tim Hardin led the Vanguards, finishing the 8,000-meter course in 25 minutes 6 seconds, a personal best by 45 seconds. Larry Holland (11th) and Jason Schaefer (12th) each finished in 25:36. Hardin was the Vanguards’ first first-team all-conference pick. Holland and Schaefer were second-team selections.

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Nikee Pool finished third in the women’s race for SCC. She ran 17:55 for 5,000 meters behind Miriam Niednagel (17:41) of Westmont and Mathea Kok (17:50) of Azusa Pacific. The SCC women finished fourth, seven points behind third-place Fresno Pacific. Pool advanced to the nationals as an individual.

Notes

The Chapman football team will finish its season Saturday by playing host to Whittier at 7 p.m. Chapman (7-1) won’t be making the four-team NCAA Division III West Regional playoffs. The Panthers still haven’t received votes in the regional poll. La Verne (8-0) has moved up to fifth. . . . Scott Dameron, women’s soccer coach at Southern California College, was named Golden State Athletic Conference co-coach of the year. Dameron shared the award with Mike Giuliano of Westmont. Three SCC players made the all-conference team: juniors Lori Van Herk and Courtney Leonard and senior goalkeeper Amy Lewis. Van Herk set a single-season school record with 19 goals this season, breaking by two the mark set last season by Jamie Gardiner. . . . The SCC men’s soccer team had three players named to the all-conference teams. Junior Peter Schumerth and senior Kevin Villar made the first team and senior goalkeeper Brent Rogers the second team. . . . The Pacific Christian men’s basketball team begins its season Friday at the California Coastal Conference preseason tournament.


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