Eagles got it done when it mattered
November 20, 2000
TYLER, Texas Meridian Community College men's soccer coach Steve Clements said every team has lulls, and that includes his squad.
The 24-1 Eagles had put together a couple of poor performances near the end of the regular season, but Clements said when his club needed to perform at its best, it did.
The final result of that effort came in the form of a 2-0 win over Bryant &Stratton (N.Y.) in the finals of the NJCAA 2000 Division I Men's Soccer Tournament on Sunday.
Sock it to me: A controversy of sorts nearly broke out just minutes before MCC's match with Bryant &Stratton.
Teams competing in the National Tournament are not allowed to wear the same color socks. Each team wearing different color foot wear supposedly makes it easier for the referee to tell who is fouling who by looking at the players' feet.
MCC, the designated home team for the game, came out wearing all white from head to toe, other than their black shoes.
Bryant &Stratton, whose primary colors are black and red, was also decked out in white socks. Normally it would be the visiting team who would be forced to change, but the Bobcat coaches said they had no other color socks with them.
After a little discussion, MCC coach Steve Clements relented and had his players put on green socks to go with their white tops and white shorts. While the uniform was unusual for the Eagles, the result was a National Championship and could lead to a new fashion around the MCC campus.
Three Eagles Honored: Three MCC players were among 11 named to the NJCAA All-Tournament team following the title game.
Striker Damani Ralph, midfielder Andrew McLeod and goalie Ryan Sims were all named to the team.
Ralph, who scored five goals in three games, was named the MVP for the National Tournament.
Making the long haul: The award for traveling the longest distance to watch the Eagles win the title goes to the family of MCC sophomore defender Ty Robinson.
The Robinsons parents Tim and Kathy and their youngest son Jett made the 800-mile trip from Bowling Green, Ky., with a stop off in Meridian to pick up relatives. The Robinsons lived in Meridian until two years ago and Ty graduated from Meridian High School.
Southern pride: Among the junior college ranks, soccer is not necessarily a Southern sport. At least when it comes to winning, that is.
MCC's title win was just the fourth time in the 40-year history of the tournament that a team south of Missouri had won the crown.
Miami-Dade (Fla.) Community College won the championship in 1979 and 1983, while Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist won the the title in 1994. One Western team has also had some success.
Yavapai (Ari.) College claimed NJCAA titles in 1990, 1992 and 1997.
Austin Bishop is a sports correspondent for The Meridian
Star. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.