KISSIMMEE, FL – The semifinals of the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championships are set and Florida Southern is one of the four teams still alive. The 4th-ranked and 2nd-seeded Moccasins prevailed in their quarterfinal match over 7th-seeded Ferris State (MI) by winning all five individual matches for a 5-0 victory. That sends them into Thursday afternoon's semifinals where they will face top-ranked and 3rd-seeded West Florida, a 4-1 win over the sixth seed, Newberry (SC).
On the other side of the bracket, the No. 8 seed, Arkansas Tech, upset 3rd-ranked and No. 1 seed Barry, while 2nd-ranked and 4th-seeded Lynn downed 6th-ranked and 5th-seeded Florida Tech. Arkansas Tech advanced on a tie-breaker after splitting two matches with Barry and tying one, but the Wonder Boys out-shot the Buccaneers by a single stroke to move ahead. Lynn won its match over Florida Tech, 3-1-1.
Florida Southern took control of its match on the first hole when Ferris State had trouble reaching the green and the Moccasins didn't. After Chase Ibbotson won that hole by two strokes over Jack Weller, both Michael VanDerLaan and Christian Anderson made long putts down the rolling green that put them within a foot of the cup where they converted for par. For Anderson, it was a two-stroke win on the hole after Seth Terpstra had trouble coming out of the brush behind the green. John Coultas then tied the hole with Ryan Bayer, and John VanDerLaan put the Mocs further ahead with his putt for par.
Anderson was the early star for the Moccasins, consistently hitting the shots he needed to hit to steadily pull away from Terpstra. Both players would par 2 and 3 before Anderson added another stroke to his lead on 4. Methodically moving through the front nine, Anderson made the turn even by parring every hole, only losing ground when Terpstra birdied 9. He got that one back though with a birdie of his own on 12 to re-gain his four-stroke lead. The gap later shrunk to two with one hole remaining, and a lost ball off the tee on 18 caused some angst, but by then Ibbotson and Michael VanDerLaan had already won their match and Coultas and John VanDerLaan were each up by six shots through 15. Anderson finished with a two-over par 72.
John VanDerLaan had even fewer problems in his match at the top flight. He copied Anderson's line of nine straight pars on the front nine while playing partner Andrew Hammett bogeyed 2 and 4, had a triple-bogey on 5 and a double on 8. At the turn, VanDerLaan was ahead by six strokes, and at that point the Mocs were ahead as a team with a 4-0-1 advantage. He ended up winning by seven with another 72 for the Moccasins.
Florida Southern's best score came from Michael VanDerLaan, who shot a two-under par 68 to defeat Ben Cook by one shot. Cook had been the Bulldogs' top performer during the stroke play portion of the tournament, but VanDerLaan jumped out on top by three strokes after four holes. Back-to-back birdies by Cook reduced the lead to one by hole 6, Cook then took the lead when VanDerLaan bogeyed 9 and held it for three holes before things were evened up on 12. When VanDerLaan birdied 13 he had his lead back again and never lost it.
Coultas shot a 69 for the Moccasins that included a 33 on the front nine. He birdied three straight holes from 2 through 4 and had another one on 8. That one put him ahead of Bayer by three shots and it never got closer than that. The lead was up to six by 14 and it remained that way all the way to the end.
Ibbotson turned in a 72 for the Mocs as their first golfer across the finish line. It was his best score of the tournament so far, and he gave the Mocs a three-shot win over Weller. They were all square four different times, the last of which occurred when Weller birdied 15, but Ibbotson grabbed the lead back on 16 and closed things out with a birdie on 18 for what turned out to be his largest lead of the day.