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Wingate soccer team claims first NCAA title in school history

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Top-ranked Wingate got a pair of goals from All-American  Jon Ander on Saturday afternoon en route to a 2-0 victory over fourth-ranked Charleston (W.Va.) in the NCAA national title match.

Wingate ends its historic season at 19-1 overall, while the Golden Eagles fall to 19-3-2.

“I think first and foremost it means a world to the university,” head coach Gary Hamill said. “Our players have dedicated themselves to winning, I see that day in and day out with their attitudes, their behaviors and lifestyle. For all the alums, who have worked so hard and given so much to Wingate, it’s just fantastic — what a great feeling.”

The story throughout the tournament has been the dominant Wingate defense, which did not disappoint on Saturday. The Bulldogs, who already blanked the nation’s top-ranked offense in the regional title match two weeks ago, shutout the nation’s second-ranked offense on Saturday, handing the Golden Eagles only their second shutout of the year.

Charleston scored 78 goals on the year, averaging 3.39 goals per game before running into the nation’s top defense.

The Bulldogs got on the board with nine minutes remaining in the opening half. Freshman Oscar Perez sent one to Ander just outside the box. Ander ripped one through the defense, with the ball getting deflected into the near corner to give Wingate the lead. The Bulldogs took that 1-0 lead into halftime, out-shooting Charleston 5-3 with a 3-1 edge in shots on goal.

Charleston looked to get the equalizer six minutes into the second half, but a header from Felipe Antonio was saved by two-time All-American goalkeeper Pablo Jara.

The Bulldogs got their insurance goal in the 78th minute. Ander got the ball just inside midfield, dribbled towards the box, then fired one from 20 yards out, netting his team-best 10th goal of the year and fifth goal of the NCAA Tournament. It was 2-0.

Wingate out-shot Charleston 10-8 on the afternoon, holding a 5-2 advantage in shots on goal. Jara collected two saves to notch his 12th shutout of the year.

The historic championship is the first NCAA team national title in Wingate University history. The Bulldogs were also the first team to make an NCAA Final Four in school. The victory also gives the South Atlantic Conference its first-ever NCAA National Championship in a SAC-sanctioned sport.

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