Matt Lynch, number 11, celebrates the win against Gannon. Photo courtesy of Millersville Athletics
Dante S. McLeod
Congratulations to Millersville Men’s Soccer for winning the PSAC championship for the third straight time. After winning against Gannon University last Saturday to stay in the NCAA tournament, they have a shot at the NCAA title.
Matt Lynch, a redshirt freshman and forward for the team, per Millersville Athletics, won his first PSAC championship with the team. He took the time to sit down and answer interview questions. Lynch provided insight on how it felt to win the PSAC, what he felt led the team to winning it for three consecutive times, moments when the team had to overcome adversity, and how the season has gone so far.
Lynch said winning the PSAC “was really exciting” and “felt surreal.”
As the third seeded team in the PSAC, the team expressed much comfort in this position because no one expected much of them. The Mercyhurst semifinal PSAC game, where Millersville won 2-0 according to Millersville Athletics, gave them confidence going into the Gannon game and a sense of dominance. They had come this far and were ready to keep moving.
Older players on the team that had won the PSAC already took on leadership roles. They made the moment easier to handle for their other teammates. On the road, Lynch said they became “road warriors.”
Lynch also felt that they took on an underdog role. After losing against West Chester twice in the regular season, per Millersville Athletics, a coach comforted them by telling them that West Chester had all the pressure. No one thought Millersville would beat them in the PSAC tournament.
However, when it mattered, Millersville delivered, something Lynch said they tend to do. To help win the PSAC again, Lynch first credits the coaches.
“Our coaches have done a great job making sure we’re fit for the preseason,” said Lynch. “Coming in, we knew that we were one of the most fit teams.”
One fitness practice pertains to the “two mile, 12 minute piece.” Tryouts have to run two miles in 12 minutes to be considered for the team. Lynch credits this along with the belief in themselves that constantly grew as the season went on.
To add on, Lynch recalls the team having an unpredictable trait this season.
Throughout the season, players in different positions contributed to point scoring for the Marauders. Lynch felt this mix of players scoring added to the “mystery” aspect of Millersville. The bench possessed great talent and performed in trustworthy ways, making it hard to know what the Marauders could do.
To get back to the PSAC, Millersville had moments where they had to overcome adversity, with one being Lock Haven. Lynch said Lock Haven already beat Millersville “2-0 at home” before. In this matchup, the teams played at Lockhaven.
At home, Lynch said people were thinking Lock Haven, top ranked at the time, had a sure win. Lock Haven fans were not the most cheerful towards Millersville. Millersville played hard but did not achieve what they wanted. Still, they were able to go into overtime with Lock Haven.
Going into overtime gave Millersville the “assurance” that they belonged, claimed Lynch. In overtime, Millersville managed to score first and win the game, getting a chance to celebrate in front of Lock Haven fans. Lynch said this moment defined them.
“This is who we are,” said Lynch. “We’re gonna get dirty, do all the things we need to, and come out with the result at the end of the day, whichever way it is.”
Leading up to this great season that is still taking place, Lynch felt they started it in a good place. The team had great “chemistry” and talented younger players arriving. Due to COVID-19, some seniors stayed on the team.
The team had great leadership from the veterans and younger players needed that. Players still had to learn what coach requirements and team plans were. Winning the PSAC two years in a row, Lynch said Millersville wanted to do it again.
However, their coach did not press them with this. The coach set qualifying for the PSAC again as one of their goals to reach.
Millersville started the season winning their first five games. After this, things slowed down because the team did some reevaluation, causing them to go astray a little, two results being the regular season West Chester games.
Going into midseason up to now, Millersville made some changes.
“We really focused on executing as an offense,” said Lynch. “Our defense has been phenomenal the whole season and has been very consistent, but on offense, I felt like there were times we had a lot of opportunities, but we just were not able to capitalize on those.”
When they started scoring more points, Lynch felt like they had turned the corner.
With a great win in the PSAC championship and another in the NCAA tournament, Millersville will play Franklin Pierce University Thursday, Dec. 2, at 10 a.m. Tune in to cheer them on!