N.J. --Two games during the regular season foretold a satisfying
ending for the men's soccer team. The Vikings regained the
Region 19 title and earned a 7-0 record in the region and
a 13-4 record overall. Says first-year Head Coach Larry Povia,
"These players made amazing progress from the beginning
to the end. I couldn't be prouder of them as players and gentlemen."
to Povia, this squad was all about teamwork. "This team
was not about individuals. There was a total team effort on
the field; it was about working together to make it happen."
got a real boost when they defeated Burlington County College
2-1 on Sept. 23. With one of its strongest squads in years,
Burlington had been unbeaten in the region prior to facing
the Vikings. Mercer's goals were scored by midfielders Dylan
Smith and Kadeem Dacres.
predictive game, Mercer defeated regional rival Essex CC 2-1
on Oct. 1, the team that had beaten the Vikings in the 2009
Region 19 championship. Going into the contest, Essex was
ranked third in the country, but Mercer proved it had the
stuff in an all-around solid performance on both offense and
defense. Goals were scored by centerback Robin Patton and
striker Rockie Kazouh.
the post-season as the no. 1 seed, the Vikings were ready
for the challenge. Their semi-final game against Essex at
the MCCC stadium on Oct. 25 proved a battle from start to
finish. Tied 2-2 at the end of regulation, Mercer came away
with the win in penalty kicks (5-4). Both of Mercer's regulation
goals were scored by Rockie Kazouh. Among the game's many
highlights was the effort put forth by freshman goalie Diego
Diaz, who came in after starter Chris Ball was injured. Aided
by stellar defense, Diaz kept Essex from scoring through the
last 30 minutes of regulation and two ten-minute overtimes
and then made the save in round 3 of the penalty kick phase
to record the win.
Region 19 final Oct. 30, the Vikings once again faced Burlington,
a team on a successful run of its own, having beaten Essex
at the end of the regular season and defeated its semi-final
opponent, Del Tech Stanton, by a score of 7-0. Mercer once
again proved its mettle, winning 1-0 on a goal by Patton,
assisted by Smith, with 20 minutes remaining. Patton proved
decisive on defense as well, heading out a Burlington shot
late in the game to preserve the win. He was named Defensive
MVP and Kadeem Dacres was named the Offensive MVP.
6, the Vikings continued their great run in the Northeast
District Tournament, defeating Monroe CC (Rochester, NY) 1-0
in their semi-final match-up, with Patton scoring the game's
lone goal. Povia also praised Dacres and Smith in the midfield
for creating opportunities while taking commanding control
of the game and possession of play.
The season came to end on Nov. 7 when the Vikings lost 3-0
to Monroe CC (Bronx) in the district final. Povia notes the
score was not indicative of the game's competitiveness and
credited Monroe's goalie with a number of brilliant saves
that thwarted the best efforts of the Vikings offense. Monroe
also had an overall size advantage, with five players measuring
6'2" or taller.
some Vikings players remain unsung heroes in the region's
tallies, Kadeem Dacres was named Region 19's Player of the
Year and Mohamed Conteh was named no. 5 in the Top 5. Both
players were selected for First Team All-Region honors; Robin
Patton and Jonni Ventura were selected to the Second Team
All-Region. Conteh and Dacres were also selected to the All-GSAC
credits much of the team's progress to his dedicated coaching
staff, which included Assistant Coaches Pat Snyder, Bill Daily,
John Kalinowksi, John Pietrowski and Tigana Dalce. According
to Povia, "Pat was a real asset in leading the team through
technical drills, while Bill and John Kalinowski developed
the team physically. John Pietrowski and Tigana Dalce helped
players develop their set pieces and defensive plays."
He notes that his first year at the helm was hard, but rewarding.
And he's ready for next year.
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