Wins 6th National Title
TYLER, Texas -- The Yavapai College soccer
team's sixth national title is certainly not in danger of
being lost in the shuffle.
years to the day after the Roughriders captured their first
national championship in double overtime, the 2007 squad won
the program's sixth crown in penalty kicks over No. 1 Georgia
Perimeter, a team that had not lost all season.
In a season where Yavapai dominated or at least controlled
most matches, it had to work for the biggest of them all.
The Jaguars led 1-0, 3-2 and even had a chance to end things
on PKs. But the 'Riders would not be denied.
"You had to be here," Yavapai coach Mike Pantalione
said. "For a team to respond with a goal down in the
early going of a national title game... We've been a part
of so many and witnessed so many and the team that scores
first generally wins. Our guys were relentless."
Freshman Justin Meram tied the game before the half on an
assist from Irving Garcia.
Francis Khamis scored his 23rd of the season early in the
second half from Colby Swensen to give Yavapai the lead. But
Georgia Perimeter tied it minutes later and took the lead
with seven minutes to go.
With time running out, the Roughriders had a throw-in deep
in Jaguar territory. Sophomore Rudy Duarte - the program's
all-time assist leader - normally takes the throws, but he
left in the first half with a broken foot.
Camilio Valencia took the throw and the 'Riders sent everyone
to the near-post. Meram swung around to the backdoor and put
away the throw to tie the game with a minute and a half remaining.
With two goals, Meram finished with three in the national
tournament and nine in the postseason, tying him for third
all-time in YC history.
"I don't care who scores," Meram said. "This
was a team effort. We dug down. We had the heart and the desire
and our goalkeeper (Sam Hayden) came up huge. He's the best
goalkeeper I've ever played with."
Hayden - who said he didn't sleep the night before because
he was so nervous - said he let the first goal of the game
slip through. Pantalione said he made a brilliant save on
the second goal but the Jaguars drove home the rebound. But
the team picked him up and he came through with the game on
With Yavapai shooting first, the two teams each scored on
their first tries missed on the second and scored the next
In round five, Georgia Perimeter goalkeeper Jon Selkow made
the save, giving his team a chance to end it. Pantalione said
Hayden guessed right and caused Chris Ugarte to overcompensate
and miss the target, keeping Yavapai alive.
The teams each scored in round six, but after seldom-used
Dirk Peterson scored for the Roughriders, Hayden made the
"I just prayed," Hayden said. "...I just needed
to end it. I read it to the left and just dove."
After rallying late and staving off elimination on penalty
kicks, Pantalione said, "the Yavapai mystique beat Georgia
Perimeter twice today."
The Roughriders end the year with 24 wins for the fifth time
in their history. They have made 17 of 18 national tournaments
and appeared in 12 title matches in that span. They are now
six up and six down in those games.
With the championship, the 'Riders have now had 136 different
players win a national title.
"The feeling is unbelievable," team captain Denton
Brown said. "I've never felt anything like this. It started
as retribution for last year but by the end I just wanted
to win it with this group."
Pantalione said the first championship was special because
it was the first recruiting class and it put the program on
the map, winning in just its 39th game ever. But he said he
and associate coach Hugh Bell wanted to win it for this group
Pantalione said he knew on Sept. 15, right after the program's
400th win against Chandler-Gilbert, that the team had what
it took to win it all. He said that was the first game they
played as a team.
"They all have memories they will cherish for the rest
of their life," Pantalione said. "Another group
of players bring their memories with them through the rest
of their lives."
PHOTO courtesy of Vanessa E. Curry.
ABOUT THE PHOTO: The celebration was on Sunday afternoon
in Tyler, Texas, when the Roughriders won their sixth national
-- Article from The Daily Courier. Read it on-line