CONOVER, N.C. - Florida Southern concluded play here Thursday morning in the quarterfinals of the 2015 NCAA Division II National Championships as the No. 8 seeded Moccasins fell 3.5 to 1.5 to No. 1 seeded Lynn in the opening round of match/medal play on the Jones Course at Rock Barn Golf & Spa.
The Moccasins, who overcame a 10-shot deficit in Wednesday's final round of stroke play to finish eighth and earn a spot into the match/medal play after shooting a 2-under 282 as a team and watching two-time defending D-II National Champion Barry shoot a 13-under par 297 to fall out contention for a spot in the match/medal play round, won one match, tied a match and lost three matches to help the second-ranked Fighting Knights post a 3.5-1.5 victory after the conclusion of the five match play matches.
"I thought the guys fought hard out there as not one of them was not trying hard, even when they were out of the match, so I was proud of them for that," Moccasin head coach Doug Gordin said. "I felt like we had a chance when I was on the 16th hole as Vandy had gotten his match back to one shot and Jimmy (Jones) was ahead at this point and (John) Coultas was way ahead and is all you have to do is win three matches and then we didn't win those last two matches over the last three holes."
In Thursday's quarterfinal match, the Mocs won its only match by three shots over Lynn as freshman First-Team All-American John Coultas (Valrico, Fla.) posted a three-stroke win over Lynn's Mateo Gomez as Coultas shot an even-par 71 and Gomez fired a 3-over par 74 in the fifth and final match. In the match the two teams tied, freshman First-Team All-American John VanDerLaan (Southbury, Conn.) and Lynn's Jose Andres Miranda each shot 2-over 73's to tie their match.
"Overall, it was a great match, a very good and competitive match and Lynn was just the better team this morning," said Gordin, who completed his 20th year at the helm of the Mocs this season.
Along with Lynn's win, the other three teams that advanced to the semifinals of match/medal play were No. 4 seeded Saint Leo, who defeated No. 5 seeded Simon Fraser by a score of 3-1-1, No. 2 seeded Nova Southeastern defeated No. 7 seeded Cal State-Chico, 3-1-1 and No. 3 seeded Central Missouri took down No. 6 seeded USC Aiken by a score of 4-to-1.
In Coultas' match against Gomez, who was also named a First-Team All-American, the Moccasin freshman won by three strokes as he shot a 2-over 37 on the front nine and then carded a 2-under par 34 on the back nine, while Gomez shot a 4-over 39 on the front nine and carded a 1-under 35 on the back nine. On his scoreboard on Thursday, Coultas, who was named the Phil Mickelson Division II Freshman of the Year on Wednesday, recorded three birdies and had three bogeys and closed his round by scoring a birdie on the par 5 No. 18 hole.
At the No. 4 spot, VanDerLaan and Miranda each shot 2-over par 73's to finish tied. VanDerLaan opened his round by firing a 3-over par 38 on the front nine and trailed by three strokes heading to the back nine as Miranda shot an even-par 35. On the back nine, VanDerLaan rallied as he recorded three birdies and two bogeys to post a 1-under par, but Miranda posted three bogeys on his scorecard and had only one birdie to even the match up.
Lynn's three victories came at the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 spots. At the No. 1 spot, Moccasin sophomore Jason Huntington (Lakeland, Fla.) fell by eight strokes to Lynn's Elliott Whitley as Huntington shot an 8-over par 78 and Whitley shot an even-par 71. Perhaps the highlight of the match for Huntington and the Mocs was his hole-in-one on the par 3 No. 15. It was the only hole-in-one so far at the Division II National Championships.
At the No. 2 spot, freshman Jimmy Jones (Tampa, Fla.) dropped a hard-fought match to Lynn's Martin Cancino by one stroke. The biggest differnce in Jones' match was his double bogey at the 13th hole as heading into that hole, Jones was holding a two shot lead, but the bogey tied the match up 3-over par. Cancino would seal his one-shot win by posting birdies on three of his final six holes, while Jones recorded a birdie on the par 5 No. 18 hole.
The Fighting Knights' final win came as the No. 3 spot as sophomore Levin Hoffmann (Sarstedt, Germany) hung with Keith Greene for 10 holes, before he posted a 6-over par score over the final eight holes, while Greene posted a score of 1-under par on that same stretch to help him post a seven-shot win over Hoffmann. Hoffmann finished the match with a 7-over 78 and Greene shot an even-par 71.
Despite its loss on Thursday to Lynn, the Mocs closed out an outstanding season as they recorded a season scoring average of 294.45 as a team and had two Top three finishes in tournaments, including finishing third at the Sunshine State Conference Championships and qualified for match/medal play at the NCAA Division II National Championships. In addition, they had two players, Coultas and VanDerLaan earn Second-Team All-SSC and PING First-Team All-American honors, along with Jones earning Second-Team All-SSC accolades and Coultas being named the 2015 winner of the Phil Mickelson Division II Freshman of the Year Award. The Mocs also were ranked eighth in the most recent Bushnell/Golfweek Division II Coaches' Poll.
Head coach Doug Gordin will return all five of his players in his playing lineup from the national championships next season and has already added two new freshmen to the roster for the 2015-16 season. This year's Moccasin line-up featured three freshmen and two sophomores.
Gordin said that his young team's ability to make it into match play this season will do nothing but help going forward.
"Those guys being in the match play format is going to do nothing but help them the next time we're in it, because they've never played that before as the only time they play it is at the national championships," the Mocs coach added. "So a year of experience with match play makes it better the next year and the next year after that. I can't wait till we are in that situation again, because I think we'll be better."
Click here for complete match/medal play results from NCAA Division II National Championships