N.J. --The MCCC men's soccer team got the job done in its
Region 19 semi-final game over Essex CC on Oct. 25, coming
away with the win in penalty kicks following double overtime.
In a contest that pitted Mercer against the team that denied
the Vikings the title last year, the competition was fierce
and physical on both sides.
scored just one minute into the game. Then the Vikings settled
down and began to play the kind of solid defense and offense
that led them to a 2-1 victory over Essex during the regular
season and earned them the no. 1 seed heading into the tournament
with a record of 5-0 in the region and a 10-3 record overall.
answered Essex with two goals later in the first half, both
of them by striker Rockie Kazouh. Early in the second half,
Essex evened the score at 2-2. Then, with 31 minutes remaining,
Mercer's starting goalie, Chris Ball, received a cleat to
the nose and was taken out of the game. Freshman newcomer
Diego Diaz came into the game. Aided by stellar defense, Diaz
kept Essex from scoring for the remainder of regulation, while
Mercer had several major scoring opportunities as the seconds
Mercer once again threatened around the goal, but the game
ended in a tie, forcing a shootout.
Diaz was ready and waiting. Each team scored in the first
two rounds of the shootout , but in the third round, after
a goal by MCCC's Hroaki Tomioka, Essex player Herve Valcourt
was thwarted by Diaz, who dove to the right and punched Valcourt's
erupted as if the game had just been won, and indeed it had,
as MCCC's fourth and fifth players smoothly nailed their shots
and Mercer won the shootout 5-3. In addition to Tomioka, shootout
goals were scored by Jonni Ventura, Dylan Smith, Mohamed Conteh
and Kadeem Dacres.
The Vikings face Burlington CC in the Region 19 final Saturday
at 7:30 p.m. at NJIT. While Mercer defeated Burlington 2-1
earlier in the season, Burlington is on a run of its own,
having beaten Essex at the end of the regular season and defeating
its semi-final opponent, Del Tech Stanton, by a score of 7-0.
Coach Larry Povia, "Today's win was a total team effort."
While this game was anticipated to be Mercer's toughest competition,
Povia notes that Burlington is likely to be just as tough.
more photos, see MCCC's
Facebook album here.