Athletic Event

NJCAA Division I National Tournament

Chiefs season comes to a close with loss to sixth-seeded Mercer County (NJ) at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament

Chiefs season comes to a close with loss to sixth-seeded Mercer County (NJ) at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament

Conference: No

Opponent: #6 seed Mercer County (NJ) Community College (19-3-1)
2 - 8 (L)

(Prescott, Ariz.) – Waubonsee Community College’s men’s soccer team fell behind early and could not recover in losing 8-2 to Mercer County (NJ) Community College at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament. The Chiefs’ second loss in Pool Play officially ended their season as Waubonsee finishes with a 17-6-1 record overall. It was a bittersweet ending for head coach Brett Suhayda’s Chiefs, who captured the Illinois Skyway Collegiate Conference title and the Region IV title for the second straight year, and made the program’s first ever trip to the National Tournament.

Waubonsee’s first ever appearance in the 12-team tournament did not go as they had hoped. Waubonsee was seeded 10th and placed in Pool C with the host school Yavapai (AZ.) College and Mercer County (NJ) Community College, two of the most storied NJCAA men’s soccer programs in the country. Third-seeded Yavapai has won the National Championship seven times and been National Runner-up six additional times under legendary head coach Michael Pantalione, the NJCAA’s all-time leader in wins with 614 in 29 seasons. The Roughriders are in the tournament for the 21st time in the program’s history. Sixth-seeded Mercer County, whose roster features 15 international players from five continents, is also a seven-time National Champion. The Vikings are making the program’s 31st appearance in the tournament, the most all-time.

Mercer County (20-3-1) got on the scoreboard just two minutes into the game when Osaka, Japan native Eiichi Yamaguchi netted his 26th goal of the season. In the 16th minute Mercer County went ahead 2-0 on a goal by Adir Versano. Freshman Diego Leite, from Rio de Janiero, Brazil, was credited with the assist on both of the Vikings’ goals. Eleven minutes later Yamaguchi poked a shot from the left side of the box into the far corner of the net to make it 3-0 as Mercer County took complete control of the match. Versano, a native of Azor, Israel, booked his second goal just six minutes later to put the Vikings ahead 4-0 in a dominating first half display. Mercer County out shot Waubonsee 18-1 in the first period, stifling the Chiefs’ offense.

Waubonsee finally got on the scoreboard seven minutes into the second half as midfielder Jose Gallegos registered the Chiefs’ first ever goal in National Tournament play. The goal by the freshman from Aurora West High School was his fourth of the season while Daniel Carbajal was credited with the assist. The Vikings answered five minutes later as Kingston, Jamaica native Oshana Boothe scored with an assist from Yamaguchi.

Mercer County tallied a sixth goal in the 74th minute when Rayan Steglich, a midfielder from Rio de Janiero, Brazil, scored with another assist from Yamaguchi.  Not even a minute later the Chiefs responded as their leading scorer Reuel Erastus-Obilo drilled a 20-yard shot past Vikings’ keeper Erick Guimaraes Cavalcante on a breakaway. It was the Waubonsie Valley High School graduates’ 23rd goal of the season, with Marcos Carrrasco recording his 11th assist of the fall. Yamaguchi then capped off a big day as he booked his third and fourth goals of the match, scoring in the 85th and 87th minute to give him 29 goals on the season, third most nationally among all NJCAA Division I players this season.

For the match Mercer County out shot the Chiefs 31-10 overall. The Vikings got off 16 shots on goal, while Waubonsee managed just five against Brazilian native Cavalcante. Mercer County was assessed 20 fouls compared to just seven for the Chiefs, but the Vikings had the advantage of five corner kicks to just one for Waubonsee. 

In other pool play action on day two of the tournament eighth-seeded Pima (AZ.) Community College (18-4-3) downed Illinois Central College 3-1 to knock the 12th-seeded Cougars (10-10-2) out of the tournament. Seventh-seeded Monroe (NY.) College (13-1-2) beat 11th-seeded Kansas City-Kansas Community College 5-1 to eliminate the Blue Devils (16-5-1) from contention. And fifth-seeded Indian Hills (IA.) Community College  (18-2-0) edged Louisburg (NC) College 1-0 to end the Hurricanes’ (16-7-0) season. Pool Play wraps up Wednesday with the four winners advancing to the Final Four beginning on Friday, November 17. The 2017 NJCAA Division I title match is set for Saturday.