Men's Soccer Team Stellar in Defeat
Fall in Overtime in NJCAA Semi-Final


If the Vikings’ only mission this year was to repeat as national champs, they didn’t quite get there. They did, however, get to the semi-final round of the NJCAA Tournament on Nov. 18 in Tyler, TX, after breezing through the quarter-final against Jefferson College (MO) with a 4-0 win on Nov. 17. The Vikings ended their season with a stellar 20-1-1 record.

Said Head Coach Charlie Inverso, “Of course we’re disappointed not to repeat as champs, but we certainly have a lot to be thankful for. In the past four years we have finished third, second (twice), and were national champions in 2004. We continue to compete against the monster schools that have scholarships, dorms, and full-time coaches."

In the semi-final Mercer faced Georgia Perimeter, the team that went on to win the championship and the very same team that Mercer had beaten in last year’s title game. Tied 2-2 after goals by Refael Segal and midfielder Marius Kapxhiu, the Vikings came close to scoring at the end of the first overtime. Unfortunately their opponents found the goal in the second overtime and the Vikings lost 3- 2. The Vikings played a consolation match on Nov. 20, beating Louisburg (NC) 2-1 and finishing third nationally.

Along the way to that slightly premature ending, Mercer played some beautiful soccer thanks to a strong lineup of players who steadily improved throughout the season. After defeating Essex County College (NJ) 3-1 on Oct. 28 to capture the Region 19 title, Mercer proved a dominant force in the District Tournament held at Mercer Nov. 5-6.

In the first district game, Mercer faced Massasoit (MA), a team the Vikings had narrowly beaten 2-1 on Sept. 18. This time it was all Mercer as the Vikings found the net again and again, tallying five goals for a 5-0 win. Goals came from Jilmar Perez, Anthony Moy, Refael Segal, and Nick Devine (2). Sophomore Tom DeStefano ably defended the goal, while experienced defenders Felix Martey and Jason James limited Massasoit to four shots. Awel Mohammed, Marcus Price and Tom Fink also contributed. Facing Bryant & Stratton on Nov. 6, the Vikings had a tougher time but still controlled the action, winning 2-0 on a first-half goal from Price and a second-half goal from Segal. Bryant & Stratton had only one good chance to score, a shot that DeStefano deftly deflected.

Noting the difficulty of repeating as national champs, Inverso said he worked hard throughout the season to keep his players focused on the game and not be distracted by the team’s no. 1 national ranking. “We had amazing chemistry this year. I really believe that the wear and tear of the season took its toll on our guys. Key players were hurt down the stretch and played on sheer guts. I believe we play the best brand of soccer in the country. Our guys had tremendous heart. I am really proud of them and feel lucky to have been associated with this team.”

All-Region/All-GSAC nominees included Kapxhui, James, Price, DeStefano, Martey and Muner Hassen. Kapxhui and James were also selected as NJCAA All-Americans. Assisting Head Coach Charlie Inverso, who completed his 19th season, were Larry Povia, Bill Dailey, John Pietrowski and Pat Snyder.

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