The NJCAA Division I Men's National Championships begin Thursday and continue through Sunday in Tyler, Texas. Defending champion Jefferson is joined by traditional powerhouses Mercer County, Yavapai and Georgia Perimeter, the No. 1 seed, and resurgent CCBC Essex in the eight-team field. This year's surprise is Iowa's Marshalltown featuring Grenadian scoring sensation Arkenson Neckels, who set a JC national record with 13 goals in one game this season. For a breakdown of the quarterfinal matchups ...
Georgia Perimeter (19-0-2) vs. CCBC Essex (13-5-1)
The No. 1 seed Georgia Perimeter isn't about to let happen what happened last year. The Jaguars were also unbeaten and ranked No. 1 but lost in the first round and finished fifth at the nationals.
Mike Mecerod (17 goals) and Bediako Swan (16) lead the GPC attack, but the key to the Jaguars' success has been its defense led by Jon Selkow, perhaps the best goalie in GPC history.
CCBC Essex won its first district title since the mid-1990s when the Maryland team beat Louisburg, 1-0, on Luciano Brunetti's goal.
Jefferson (18-3-0) vs. San Jacinto-South (15-2-2)
Jefferson, the defending national champion, is led by Anthony Bradshaw (25 goals) and Jesus Jimenez (16 goals, 5 assists). Claudio Dantaswas hot in the regionals, scoring the winning goals in both overtime games against St. Louis schools Forest Park and Meramec.
Roy Hernandez and Ricardo Ximines both have 10 goals for Houston JC powerhouse San Jacinto.
Yavapai (21-2-0) vs. Illinois Central (18-4-0)
Yavapai won its 17th district title since 1990 with a 4-2 win over North Idaho on sophomore Irving Garcia's hat trick. Mike Pantalione's Roughriders, who looking for its sixth national title, is led by Francis Khamis(20 goals) and Justin Meram (18 goals).
Brian Santos (13 goals) leads Illinois Central, which edged Macomb, 3-2, to advance to the nationals.
Marshalltown (16-1-0) vs. Mercer County (13-5-1)
Marshalltown, the No. 3 seed, is this year's surprise. The Iowa team is led by GrenadianArkenson Neckels, who set a JC national record with 13 goals in a 27-1 win over Indian Hills Community College in September. The previous record was nine goals set more than 30 years ago. Neckels headed to Tyler with 22 goals, 11 assists).
Mercer County's Vikings go for their eighth NJCAA title in the last 40 years. The last championship for Charlie Inverso's squad came in 2004. This year's team is led by Luke Stedmond (12 goals, 4 assists) and Rob Cabrera (8 goals, 7 assists)