Julian Halder struck early and Lynn University never looked back.
Halder scored an early goal Thursday and the Fighting Knights from Boca Raton, Fla., pulled away from Mercyhurst for a 4-1 win in the NCAA Division II semifinals at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans.
With the victory, Lynn (18-3-1) advances to play Saginaw Valley State in the men’s soccer final at noon Saturday.
“We’re extremely excited to be going back to the final,” said Lynn coach John Rootes, whose team lost in the championship match last season. “We really wanted to work hard in the first 20 minutes and get an early goal. Scoring so quickly certainly did a lot for our confidence. Our team is very mature and did a good job keeping their focus.”
Right after the kickoff, Heiko Eberhardt served a pass to Halder, who dribbled to the top of the box. Halder fired a shot past goalie Mikko Sarkkinen in the upper right corner of the net to stake Lynn to a 1-0 lead 36 seconds into the contest.
Halder added another goal at the 31-minute mark when he punched in an assist from Jack Winter.
“To score two goals today, I was really happy,” Halder said. “We came here to play in the final and we’re looking forward to that.”
Winter scored unassisted on a breakaway goal 13 minutes into the second half to push the Lynn lead to 3-0. Anthony Desperito tacked on another goal for the Fighting Knights late in the contest.
Mercyhurst (17-6-1), which dropped its first three games of the season, entered with a nine-game winning streak. The Lakers got on the board in the 81st minute when Ryan Lund scored on a header off an assist from Dane Rimko.
“I think we showed ourselves that we can play at this level,” Mercyhurst coach Dale White said. “For periods, we passed the ball better than they did. They’re a much more mature team and have more experience being at this level,” White said. “Our boys were brilliant. They’ve been brilliant all season.”