Mercer Wins Eighth National Title in Men’s Soccer


For the third straight year the Mercer Vikings earned the chance to play in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I title game in men’s soccer. But this year they came home with what they wanted – a national title.

After losing to Yavapai College (AZ) in 2002 and 2003, the Vikings defeated Georgia Perimeter 3-1 in this year’s final on Nov. 21 in Tyler, TX. This was Head Coach Charlie Inverso’s fifth national championship with the Vikings, the eighth in team history.

It was a solid win, but still forced the Vikings to come from behind after an early goal by Georgia Perimeter. Travis McKoy tied the score in the 32nd minute on a cross from Felipe Faundez. Midfielder Shay Sharaby followed with a goal in the 38th minute. Eighteen minutes into the second half Sharaby put the game away, scoring on a corner kick from Jose Miranda. Dan Steingall was in goal for the Vikings.

Inverso noted that the Vikings never let down for a minute. “In a game against such a skilled opponent, we couldn’t take anything for granted,” he said.

Inverso was well aware that at this level teams come from behind all the time. His own Vikings did it in all three rounds of the tournament. In the quarterfinal against Schoolcraft College (Livonia, MI) on Nov. 18, the game seesawed back and forth, with Schoolcraft in the lead 3-2 at the half. Mercer came back and scored three goals in the second half, sealing the victory with just 12 minutes left.

“We were a little too casual in the first half,” Inverso said. “The team really stepped up in the second half. It was truly a game of wills.”

Mercer forward Travis McKoy scored two of the goals (on assists from Marius Kapxhiu and Artie Taylor). Forward Marcus Price also scored twice (one was a penalty kick, the other was unassisted). The game winner was scored by Roy Sharaby on a pass from his twin brother Shay. Dan Steingall was in goal for the Vikings.

In the semi-final round, the Vikings proved just as determined, defeating San Jacinto (TX) in another comeback win on Nov. 19, this one in overtime.

The Vikings trailed 2-0 with 20 minutes left, finally getting on the scoreboard in the 71st minute on an unassisted goal by Marcus Price. That was followed by a goal from midfielder Felipe Faundez on an assist from Jose Miranda with 5:41 left in regulation. The game-winning “golden goal” was scored by defender Kevin Bailey in the 99th minute.

“There is just one word for that game,” Inverso said. “Unbelievable. In the first half, the guys showed signs of fatigue from Thursday's game, but came back and controlled the second half. They showed real character.”

Dan Steingall was the Vikings' goalie. The shots were almost even, with 15 for Mercer and 13 for San Jacinto. Inverso praised defender Carlos Ramirez, who shut down San Jacinto’s two-time All American Dane Richards.

Poor field conditions hampered all the teams in the tournament. “Due to torrential rains, the fields were really heavy. It had an effect on our speed and our ability to pass the ball,” Inverso said.

He noted that this championship is particularly gratifying because of this very special Vikings team. “This group of players works so well together. They all get along. It's a real family," he said.

Inverso, who was named the tournament's top coach, praised his staff, assistants Larry Povia, John Pietrowski, Bill Daily and Pat Snyder. Defender Kevin Bailey, who was instrumental in securing the wins in the first two rounds, was named the tournament MVP. Mercer's Marcus Price and Travis McKoy were named to the All-Tournament Team.

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