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Men's Soccer Team Wins Semis in Dramatic Fashion;
Heads for Region 19 Final This Saturday


West Windsor, N.J. --The MCCC men's soccer team got the job done in its Region 19 semi-final game over Essex CC on Oct. 25, coming away with the win in penalty kicks following double overtime. In a contest that pitted Mercer against the team that denied the Vikings the title last year, the competition was fierce and physical on both sides.

Essex scored just one minute into the game. Then the Vikings settled down and began to play the kind of solid defense and offense that led them to a 2-1 victory over Essex during the regular season and earned them the no. 1 seed heading into the tournament with a record of 5-0 in the region and a 10-3 record overall.

Mercer answered Essex with two goals later in the first half, both of them by striker Rockie Kazouh. Early in the second half, Essex evened the score at 2-2. Then, with 31 minutes remaining, Mercer's starting goalie, Chris Ball, received a cleat to the nose and was taken out of the game. Freshman newcomer Diego Diaz came into the game. Aided by stellar defense, Diaz kept Essex from scoring for the remainder of regulation, while Mercer had several major scoring opportunities as the seconds ticked down.

In overtime, Mercer once again threatened around the goal, but the game ended in a tie, forcing a shootout.

Goalie Diaz was ready and waiting. Each team scored in the first two rounds of the shootout , but in the third round, after a goal by MCCC's Hroaki Tomioka, Essex player Herve Valcourt was thwarted by Diaz, who dove to the right and punched Valcourt's ball away.

The crowd erupted as if the game had just been won, and indeed it had, as MCCC's fourth and fifth players smoothly nailed their shots and Mercer won the shootout 5-3. In addition to Tomioka, shootout goals were scored by Jonni Ventura, Dylan Smith, Mohamed Conteh and Kadeem Dacres.

The Vikings face Burlington CC in the Region 19 final Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at NJIT. While Mercer defeated Burlington 2-1 earlier in the season, Burlington is on a run of its own, having beaten Essex at the end of the regular season and defeating its semi-final opponent, Del Tech Stanton, by a score of 7-0.

Said Head Coach Larry Povia, "Today's win was a total team effort." While this game was anticipated to be Mercer's toughest competition, Povia notes that Burlington is likely to be just as tough.



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From left, Mohamed Conteh, Rockie Kazouh, Jonni Ventura, Kadeem Dacres, and Jonathan Louisignau.
Midfielder Dylan Smith on the ball.
Halftime huddle
Diego Diaz makes the save that won the game.
Head Coach Larry Povia, second from right, with assistant coaches, from left, Bill Daily, Art Taylor, Tigana Dalce, Pat Snyder and John Pietrowski.