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MCC begins defense of national title

By By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Aug. 24, 2001
Meridian Community College has always been known as a national powerhouse in junior college baseball. But until last year, many people didn't realize what a dynasty Steve Clements had been busy building that past eight years.
A nearly unstoppable soccer program.
MCC won the National Junior College Athletic Association's top spot by claiming the national championship in 2000 after a near flawless 24-1 season. The Eagles finished 5th in the 1997 and 1999 season's before finally breaking through in 2000.
Clements and his MCC squad will kick off the 2001 season Saturday at MCC with a 7 p.m. game against Gordon College. The Eagles enter the game as the No.1 ranked team in the NJCAA, an honor Clements said completely reflects last year's national championship and not this year's team.
The Eagles have 17 freshman as compared to only six sophomores. MCC graduated five sophomores from last year's team that will be competing on Division I universities this fall.
All-Americans Damani Ralph and Andrew McLeod headed to the defending NCAA national champions, the University of Conneticut, in hopes of having the rare chance of winning a national title in both junior and major college levels. Mcleod was a first team All-American and was named the national Athlete-of-the-year by the National Soccer Coaches Athletic Association (NSCAA). Ralph was named as a second team All-American member.
Honorable mention All-American goalkeeeper, Ryan Simms, headed to Birmingham Southern, midfielder Jose Figuero chose to play for Winthrop and defender Brad Wagner left for the University of Central Florida.
2001 team
Clements said while he has been impressed with his young talent during a few preseason scrimmages, he realizes the pressure will be on them to come in and contribute immediately.
With the absence of midfielder Kahreem Cooke, Clements said that two incoming freshman from Cooke's hometown will take the load offensively. Kevin King and Marion Sullivan, both from Kingston, Jamacia, are expected to try and fill in Cooke's shoes.
Garthfield Whyte is the leading scorer returning for Clements. He scored 3 goals and had 7 assists in 2000.
Another big hole to fill will be at goalkeeper. Last year, Ryan Simms was incredible protecting the net and was considered the best in the nation in at his position. He holds a record for most consecutive shutouts with eight at MCC.
Clements said there is no clear starter in his mind for that position at this time. He said it will be decided between sophomore Eric Stewart and freshman Byron Bent.
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228 or E-mail him at fcarmichael@themeridianstar.com
MCC Eagles 2000 Soccer Schedule
Saturday: Gordon College, 7 p.m.
September 1: at Monroe College; 2: at Spartanburg Methodist; 7: South Georgia; 8: Darton College; 12: Mississippi Gulf Coast; 14 Rush Invitational – MCC vs. Young Harris; 15: Rush Invitational – Young Harris vs. Richland; 16: Rush Invitational – MCC vs. Richland) ; 20: at Hinds Community College; 27: atCloud County, Tyler, Texas; 29: at Pima , Tyler, Texas; 30: at San Jacinto, Tyler.
October 11: at State Fair, Dallas; 12: at Lincoln College, Dallas; 14: at Johnson County, Dallas; 19: Tyler; 21: Georgia Perimeter; 27: San Jacinto.

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