Yavapai College saves best for last

Dan Beeson
Date Published: 
Daily Courier

Roughrider soccer team's final recruit could be one of tops in the school's history

He was close to signing with longtime adversary Mercer College.

He was closer yet to signing with national powerhouse Essex, N.J.

But on the eve of the 1997 junior college soccer season, 23-year-old forward Angus Eve has become a Yavapai College Roughrider.

And that makes YC coach Mike Pantalione's day. In a big way.

Eve has most recently played on the Trinidad National Senior Team where Pantalione watched him on television.

A telephone call from a four-year coach in New York, coupled by an arduous 60-day recruiting process, enabled Yavapai to land what might be the school's most prolific player since Edson Rico, who put the vaunted program on the map in its first year, 1989.

"I'm very excited ... needless to say," Pantalione said Wednesday, shortly after making the signing official.

"He's a very versatile player with an abundance of international experience. I think he'll add a lot of maturity to our team as well as a lot of speed, quickness and unselfishness, with big-time goal-scoring ability as well."

Such a description also fits Rico to a tee. And Pantalione hopes that Eve's presence will be the fit necessary for YC to get back to the days that Rico introduced -- namely, that of winning national championships.

Yavapai has an eight-year overall record of 170-10-6, and has finished runner-up nationally each of the past three seasons.

But it's been five years since it has visited the national winner's circle, a drought that seems like forever to a program of this caliber.

"We put this team together to beat Mercer and teams like Mercer," said Pantalione, whose team is ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll and begins practice Wednesday.

"Now it's time to cooperate and make it all work."

Eve is the second player to come to Yavapai from Port of Spain, the other being former All-American goalkeeper Chris Sagar.

But he isn't the first Roughrider to come from Trinidad, and those who did are all familiar with his abilities.

"I talked to Chris Sagar recently and he told me, 'coach, he'll help you win a national championship,'" Pantalione said.

Returning midfielder Kevin Jeffrey (current YC player from Trinidad) described Eve as being "A lot better than me."

And another former YC star from Trinidad, Avery John, labels him as "The real deal."

All help covince Pantalione of exactly what kind of player he's getting. But ...

"We haven't had an Edson Rico since Edson Rico," Pantalione said. "But the way I look at it ... actions speak louder than words."

Eve joins 11 other freshmen recruits and 11 sophomores on the '97 squad.