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MCC shuts out Bryant &Stratton for NJCAA Title

By Staff
BATTLE FOR THE BALL n MCC's Shun Taylor, No. 12, battles against a Bryant &Stratton player for ball possession. Photo by Austin Bishop/The Meridian Star
By Austin Bishop/The Meridian Star
TYLER, Texas Seven was definitely Meridian Community College's lucky number on Sunday.
In just its seventh season the MCC soccer team claimed the NJCAA Men's Soccer National Championship with a physical 2-0 win over Bryant &Stratton (N.Y.) on the muddy surface of Pat Hartley Field on the campus of Tyler Junior College.
Clements helped birth the MCC soccer program in 1993 and has been the team's only coach through seven seasons.
The win capped an amazing run for the Eagles, who finished the season with a 24-1 record and went into the eight-team NJCAA 2000 Division I Men's Soccer Tournament ranked as the No. 1 junior college soccer team in the country.
MCC set a school record for wins in a season, while closing the year out with a school-record 17 consecutive victories.
During the postseason, the Eagles went 7-0 and outscored their opponents by a whopping 32-3.
MCC scored the only goal it needed with 16:51 left in the first half when Damani Ralph connected on a penalty kick.
Sophomore Andrew McLeod put the game away with less than seven minutes to play, when he fired a bullet past the sprawling Bryan &Stratton goalie and into the upper left-hand corner of the net.
Despite the fact that there was still more than an hour left to play in the match, Ralph said he knew his penalty kick attempt could be the turning moment of the game.
While Clements said he would rather a championship game not be decided by a penalty kick, he said he thought the call was a good one.
Clements sent Ralph, who led all scorers in the tournament with five goals, to the line for the all-important penalty kick.
The penalty kick was set up by a strong effort by Andrew McLeod. He beat a Bryant &Stratton defender, then got past the goalie, forcing the Bobcat keeper to take him down from behind in the box.
Trailing 1-0 in the second half, Bryant &Stratton mounted the pressure and began to sell out on the offensive end during the last 25 minutes of the match.