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3. PREVIEW: Coaching legends battle in D3 men's semis
November 20th, 2006 11:52PM
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The NCAA Division III men's and women's final fours will both be played this weekend at the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. In Friday's men's semifinals, Ohio Wesleyan will face Wheaton (Ill.) at 5 p.m. ET, to be followed by defending champion Messiah against New York University. The winners will play in the championship game at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Here's a look at the four semifinalists:

WHEATON (ILL.) (15-7-4). Retiring Joe Bean looks to go out with his third NCAA Division III championship. Bean, who has an NCAA men's record 604 wins, led the Thunder to titles in 1984 and 1999. Wheaton has won seven in a row before needing a shootout to down York in the sectional final. Steve Rigby (12 goals) Joel DeLass (10) and Strider Elass (10) give Wheaton one of the most versatile attacks in the D3 ranks.

OHIO WESLEYAN (15-0-6). The Bishops, who are making their eighth appearance in the D3 final four, have given up only one goal in four games in the NCAA Tournament and only six in 21 games this season. Senior Craig Neal and freshman Jordan Halloran scored to give Ohio Wesleyan a 2-0 win over Dominican (Ill.) in the sectional final. With 515 wins in 30 seasons, Ohio Wesleyan's Jay Martin could one day overtake Wheaton's Bean as the winningest men's coach in NCAA history.

MESSIAH (19-1-2). The Falcons look to become the first team since UNC Greensboro (1985-87) to win three straight NCAA Division III men's titles and tie UNCG with a fifth D3 championship. Messiah had two close calls in section play last weekend. Winger Andre Burckhart scored with less than eight minutes left to give Messiah a 2-1 victory over Johns Hopkins after it beat host Williams on penalty kicks in the third round. In the previous round, Messiah defeated Arcadia, 3-0, to give Coach Dave Brandt his 200th victory in only his 10th season. No men's coach has reached his 200th victory faster at the NCAA level. Brandt's overall record of 201-21-11 gives him the highest winning percentage of any NCAA men's coach.

NEW YORK U. (15-3-4). The Violets are this year's surprise, making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1972 and their first ever at the D3 level. An early second-half goal from Robert Keller gave NYU a 1-0 win over Nazareth in Sunday's quarterfinals. Goalkeeper Chris Wright, who made four saves against Nazareth to record his 11th shutout of the season, was Saturday's hero against Stevens Institute. He stopped Stevens' fourth shootout attempt, then turned around and converted the next shot himself to give NYU the win.

(Tomorrow: NCAA Division III women's final four preview.)


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