Eagles focused on winning title
By By Austin Bishop/The Meridian star
TYLER, Texas Making the NJCAA Division I Men's Soccer Tournament has become old hat to the Eagles of Meridian Community College.
This year's trip marks the third time in four years that MCC has qualified for the elite eight-team field. But this year's team doesn't seem satisfied with just making the tournament, they have a little more substantial goal in mine.
The Eagles earned a shot at the national title with a 3-1 win over Springfield College of Illinois on Friday night. MCC will now take on Bryant &Stratton in the championship game at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
MCC soccer coach Steve Clements said there is no doubt that the attitude of this year's team is more focused that the previous two Meridian squads that played in the National Tournament.
To a man, the Eagles say their only goal was to walk away as the best junior college soccer team in the nation.
MCC finished fifth in the nation last year, after losing to State Fair (Mo.) Community College and then to Bryant &Stratton in the third-place game.
Sophomore defender Brad Wagner said making the National Tournament really wasn't a surprise at all for the Eagles, who are ranked No. 1 in the country by the NJCAA.
MCC goalie Ryan Simms said once the postseason began, everything was in place for the Eagles to make a run, they just had to play up to their potential.
While most of this year's sophomores were on last year's squad that played in the National Tournament, defender Shun Taylor was on the 1997 squad that went to the event in Trenton, N.J. He sat out the last two seasons before returning to the team.
Clements said nothing can replace National Tournament experience and playing a tough regular season schedule.
McLeod said last year's team was a solid one, but the chemistry on the 2000 squad is even better.
Despite not being satisfied with anything less than an appearance in the title game, Wagner said the trip has still been a whole lot more fun that it has been work.
Austin Bishop is a sports correspondent for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.