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Men’s Soccer Team Win Central District Championship and Trip to Nationals

Article by: Paige Allen,
Godfrey, Ill. - Lewis and Clark Community College's men's soccer team won their district championship and earned a trip to the national tournament Saturday, Nov. 9 when they defeated Jefferson College 2-1 in Hillsboro, Mo.

The Trailblazers will spend the next week preparing for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I Championship Tournament. It is their first appearance in the national tourney since 1989. The team also played in the tournament in 1986. This year's tournament will be held Nov. 18-23 at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. 

The men are going to nationals 4-0 in their conference and 14-5-3 this season. 

Throughout the season, Lewis and Clark's men's soccer team has received honorable mention in the NJCAA polls. Currently the team is ranked No. 19 in the National Soccer Coaches Association poll. 

They faced a Jefferson team who had defeated 4-3 at home at Lewis and Clark on Oct. 14 and was ranked No. 16 in the NJCAA national poll.

"This will not be another 4-3 loss for us," Melvin Beckett relayed to his teammates before the district game. "We can win our trip to nationals. We are a good team."

Beckett took his own advice. He and Jake Stone, a sophomore from Florissant, made the two Trailblazer goals in the game. Stone scored in the first half on a free kick off Beckett at 11:45. In the second half, Beckett scored with an assist from Jeffrey Cameron, sophomore from Florissant, at 84:38 on the clock.

A freshman from Victoria, Australia, Beckett is playing his first soccer season in the U.S. He recently was honored as the NJCAA Division I Region 24 Player of the Year.

"We have a good team, and when you have a good team anything is possible," said Beckett.

Didrik Rinde, a sophomore from Lillehammer, Norway, said today the Trailblazers played competitively and getting the first goal was important.

"Getting the first goal and putting a score on the board got us going," Rinde said.
"Throughout the game we were playing well on defense and especially in the second half. It was key to our winning this game. I'm very excited about competing in nationals."

Trailblazer Goalkeeper Jack Filla, of O'Fallon, Mo., was named NJCAA Division I Region 24 Goalkeeper of the Year. He said the key to the win came down playing strong and smart.

"It's been a great season and we work hard for each other and it is paying off. The rest is history. We are on to nationals," Filla said. 

The game was close to a shutout for the Trailblazers. With 1:09 left to play, Vikings' Matthew Robinson scored with an assist from Luke Heneghan to end the game 2-1.

Trailblazers Head Coach Tim Rooney was celebrating with his team when he received a congratulatory call from Lewis and Clark Community College President Dale Chapman.

"It is a big weekend for our teams and I am grateful we have the support of our president, everyone from the college, and all the parents and fans," Rooney said.

Rooney said he is ready for another game tomorrow with his women's soccer team. The women will play St. Louis Community College on the Meramec campus. A win will earn them their district championship and a trip to nationals at Eastern Florida State College in Melbourne, Fla., Nov. 18-23.

The Lewis and Clark women are 19-1 this season and are No. 6 in the nation according to the most recent NJCAA poll. 

"We have a special group of players this year. Both teams have worked hard for these opportunities and they have proved time and again that they can win," Rooney said. 

Lewis and Clark and Jefferson each had three shots on goal. L&C had four corner kicks and Jefferson had three. Trailblazer goalkeeper Filla made two saves and Jefferson had one.