Yavapai falls in title game

Date Published: 
Daily Courier

Yavapai's Avery JohnYavapai's Avery John: looks for somebody to pass the ball to Sunday during the NJCAA national title game in West Windsor, N.J.

Not too many soccer games are going to be won when a team manages just five shots at goal.

Matters become much, much worse, however, when the other team scores on its first two shots.

Such was the case for Yavapai Sunday in the NJCAA national title game against host Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, N.J.

The Roughriders—who had come back from a two-goal deficit to knock of Tyler, Texas 3-2 in four overtimes in the semifinals—could find no magic this time around.

Failing to crack Mercer's touch back line, Yavapai fell 2-0 in losing the national title game for the second year in a row.

"The wear and tear of the overtime victory just took its toll," said Yavapai coach Mike Pantalione, whose squad ends the season with a record of 21-3-1.

"We have nothing to hang our heads about. They played extremely well the last month of the season when it counted."

Yavapai goalkeeper Chuck Browder, who had allowed just two goals all season prior to the championship match, matched that number in a hurry on Sunday.

A free kick from about 25 yards out went between Browder's legs. A surge of players toward the net followed and Robert Mikulski tapped the ball in just 1:12 into the match.

Not long after, Browder was caught in no man's land after a crossing pass. After hesitating, he was unable to get to the ball and was caught out at the 6-yard line. Mercer's Stern John was then able to head it in to make it 2-0 at 12:20.

Browder was replaced by Cesar Delgado.

"Chuck had a great season for us, but at the time his concentration wasn't there as a result of giving up the two goals," Pantalione said.

Delgado allowed no goals and tallied seven saves, as YC rebounded and played well the remainder of the match.

"The players played extremely well for the last 76 minutes," Pantalione said. "We just didn't have many scoring opportunities because they had a tremendous back line."

Mercer sweeper Gilbert JonBaptiste was named the national tourney's MVP.

The 'Riders did manage to stop Dexter Rouse from scoring, as the Mercer star led all players with five goals in the tournament.

YC's Richard Elliot finished with four goals for the event to make the all-tourney team, while Yavapai teammate Avery John was selected as well.

"With the exception of 12 minutes of soccer, it was a tremendous national tournament week for the players on and off the field," Pantalione said.

NJCAA Title Game

Mercer 2
Yavapai 0

(Sunday in West Windsor, N.J.)
Yavapai (21-3-1)....... 0 0—0
Mercer (19-1-0)......... 2 0—2

Scoring: MC—Mikulski (Arbani) 1:12; MC—John (Zgelich) 12:20.

-- YC - MC
Shots 5 - 16
Corners 6 - 5
Fouls 19 - 25
Saves by 7 - 3

Goalkeepers: YC—Browder 14 min. (0 saves, 2 goals), Delgado 76 min. (7 saves, 0 goals); MC—Ilczyne 90 min. (3 saves, 0 goals).