Men's Soccer Team Is Second in Nation


First row, l. to r., Luigi Moriello, Ibrahima Fadiga, Michael Jaramillo, Walter Taffur,
McQuinn Burch, Ricardo Garcia, and Shane Rennie;
Middle row, l. to r., Asst. Coach Paul Tanimae, Lester Ombayo, Refael Segal, Anthony Moy, Robert Cooper, Arnold Roberts, Victor Hernandez, Jorge Sanchez, and Keron Ponchoo;
Back row, l. to r., Coach Charlie Inverso, Shawn Carr, Robert Zullo, Joe Ingraffia, Yacob Rahav, Awel Ahmed, Christopher Bensch, Jilmar Perez, Anthony Pompei, Justin Grant and Asst. Coach Pat Snyder.

The Vikings came in a close second in the NJCAA National Tournament in Tyler, TX, losing to Jefferson College (MO) 2-1 in overtime. With a season record of 15-3-3, this Vikings team came together to pull off upset after upset over higher-seeded teams in post-season play.

After winning the Region 19 final against Essex CC (NJ) 4-0 on Oct. 29, the Vikings headed to the Northeast District Tournament ranked third out of four teams. They faced Bryant & Stratton on Nov. 4, a team they had tied earlier in the season, but this time defeated 1-0. The next day they faced Monroe CC, another team they had tied earlier, and again they won 1-0. With that victory, Mercer qualified for a return to the nationals in Tyler, TX, Nov. 16-19, their sixth straight appearance in the NJCAA tournament.

The underdog theme was similar at the nationals. In the quarterfinal on Nov. 16, no. 5 Mercer faced no. 2 Yavapai CC (AZ), a team they had played at the nationals in past years. The fierce contest was tied 1-1 after double overtime and Mercer advanced after winning the penalty kick round 4-3. Next up was no. 3 ranked Louisburg (NC), a team Mercer had tied earlier in the season. Refael Segal assisted Arnold Roberts on the first score and put in one of his own with two minutes left, defeating Louisburg 2-1.

Head Coach Charlie Inverso, who completes his 18th season, notes that small changes in the line-up and key defensive plays bolstered an essentially solid team for a stellar late season effort. "We made an incredible run at another national title thanks to one of the toughest groups of players I have ever had the pleasure of coaching. Before the post-season began, we were ranked #14 in the nation and third in our district. To lose in the national championship game in overtime is one heck of a statement about the toughness of this team," Inverso said.

Goalie Shawn Carr was solid, along with Keron Panchoo and Yacob Rahav, and Ricardo Garcia and Victor Hernandez. Leading scorers were Awel Ahmed with nine goals and two assists, Refeal Segal with six goals and five assists, Arnold Roberts with five goals and one assist, and Shane Rennie with four goals and two assists.

Carr and midfielder Victor Hernandez were named to the All-Tournament team. Segal was named a First Team All-American. All-Region and All-GSAC honors went to Awel Ahmed, Shawn Carr, Ricardo Garcia, Keron Panchoo, Shane Rennie, and Refael Segal.

"Our chemistry was incredible," Inverso said. "Our bus rides were like being in a comedy club. I was blessed to have a great group of guys this year. I am going to miss them." Inverso credits his assistant coaches, Larry Povia, Bill Daily, John Pietrowski, Pat Snyder and Paul Tanimae, for their help throughout the season. The Vikings have made it to the final four five years in a row and have played in the national championship game four of those years, winning the title in 2004.

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