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MCC continues success in Nationals

By By Jeff Byrd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 19, 2001
TYLER, Texas By winning the fourth-place game on Sunday morning here at Pat Hartley Field, the Meridian Community College men's soccer team claimed a top-four finish for the fourth time in five years.
Meridian finished fourth in 1997 and third in 1999. They were the national champions in 2000. They finished the 2001 season with a 19-3-2 record.
Bryant &Stratton closes the deal
Bryant &Stratton won the 2001 NJCAA National Championship on Sunday afternoon beating top-ranked Yavapai 3-2 in the title game.
Bryant &Stratton, which lost to Meridian in the 2000 finals, broke in front 1-0 15 minutes into the game. They were up 3-1 in the final 10 minutes when Yavapai scored late.
Bryant &Stratton came into the tournament ranked third in the nation and were unbeaten as well. The Bobcats of Syracuse, N.Y. ended the season with a perfect 18-0 record.
All three of their wins were low-scoring affairs. They didn't get to play Schoolcraft.
The Bobcats beat Louisburg 4-1 in the quarterfinal and then blanked Johnson County 3-0 on Friday.
Yavapai, of Prescott, Arz., entered the tournament as the nation's top-ranked team. Yavapai was 24-0 entering the final.
Five-star day for Sullivan
Meridian freshmen Mahlon Sullivan had a career day scoring five times in Sunday's rout of Schoolcraft. None were more impressive than his first goal. It was a kick that traveled nearly 25 yards but it came at a sharp angle from the five-yard line.
It's a small world
With soccer being very much a game of the world, one could expect a fair representation of countries. That's the case here at the NJCAA National Tournament.
Seventeen different countries had players in the eight-team field. Following the United States are England and Jamaica with five each.
Three of the five Jamaicans play for Meridian. They include Garthfield Whyte, Mahlon Sullivan, and Kevin King. The other players play for Yavapai.
Four of the British players suited up with Louisburg College. That may explain their rough play. The Hurricanes drew a red card and at least two yellows in their 4-2 loss to Meridian on Friday. The red card was especially costly since it meant Louisburg had to play the final 41 minutes with just 10 men.
Some of the more unusal countries represented included: Israel, Egypt, Mali, Belarus and Trindad &Tobago.
The three Meridian Jamaicans all hail from Kingston.
There are three South Africans on the Meridian team. They include sophomoreCecil Noyce, and freshmen Stuart Wainwright and Shaun Van Heerden.
Leading scorers
With his big day on Sunday, Sullivan finished the tournament with seven goals. He had two in Friday's win over Louisburg.
Whyte was nearly as impressive. He had two goals and an assist to lead Meridian in its first two games. He had one goal with three assists on Sunday to give him three goals and four assists.
Beard and Kevin King each finished with three goals each. Sullivan and Whyte were later named to the All-National Tournament team.
Two and done
Mercer County, N.J. came into the nationals unbeaten and ranked second in the national. They left Tyler on Saturday morning after losing two straight.
Schoolcraft, which was blasted 8-0 on Thursday by top-ranked Yavapai, bounced back with a 5-4 overtime decision on Friday against Mercer County.
Mercer County has won seven national titles. The last six came as Mercer County. The first, in 1962, was as Trenton College.
Jeff Byrd is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. He can be reached at 693-1551 or by e-mail at jbyrd@themeridianstar.com.

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