Illini Men Mount Major Comeback in NCAA Match Play Quarters, but Season Ends in Semis

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Bradenton, Fla. (via Illini Athletics) - After an exciting comeback victory over UCLA to advance to the Final Four, Fighting Illini Men's Golf fell to USC in the Semifinal round of Match Play at the 2015 NCAA Men's Golf Championships. The Bruins took the match 3-1-1 to advance to the Final round. The Illini have qualified for NCAAs in each of the past eight seasons, and conclude this year with eight tournament victories, the most for any Illini team in program history.

"We had probably the greatest season in Illinois Golf history this year," head coach Mike Small said. "We finished second here two years ago, but this team was by far more steady and successful than that team was all year round. But, it's the tournament; you have to get hot at the right time. I'm proud to coach these guys."

The Illini got off to a strong start in their second matchup of the day, taking an early lead over the Trojans. Junior Thomas Detry started his match all-squared, but got up on the third hole. He maintained his lead all through the round, topping USC's Crocker 2&3.

In the final round of his Illinois career, senior Brian Campbell squared his match, through 18 holes. Campbell was consistent all season, and he comes away with two tournament wins including his NCAA Noblesville Regional Title. Campbell closes his career with the Illini with two NCAA Regional titles in four NCAA Regional and Championship appearances.

"Brian Campbell has been a star at this place for four years and I hate to see him go," Small said of the graduating senior. "He has been a thrill to coach and he is going to have a great career."

Junior Charlie Danielson continued his strong play during his second match of the day. After winning seven of his last eight holes in the quarterfinal round, Danielson started out the semifinals all-squared before taking the lead on the third hole. He was up by two after the sixth hole, but USC powered through to take the lead as the two headed into the back nine. USC's Hoey topped Danielson 2&1.

Both Dylan Meyer and Nick Hardy got off to early deficits in the round. Meyer was able to cut USC's lead as he headed to the back nine. He trailed by just one at the completion of the 11th hole, but he couldn't overcome the deficit and fell 3&2.

Hardy also made a comeback on his back nine, he squared things up on the 12th hole and was 1-up after 13. Once again, the match came down to the wire, with Hardy's round determining the team's fate. USC's Sugimoto was too much for the freshman as the Trojans earned took the match 3&1.

"We've got a great group coming back," Small said, looking forward. "They're just going to get better, and there are some things we can all work on. That's the fun of coaching, working with those guys to get better."

Keep checking in to FIGHTINGILLINI.com for more information on Illinois Men's Golf, and follow the team on Twitter (@IlliniMGolf), Facebook (facebook.com/IlliniMGolf) and Instagram (@illiniMGolf).



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