Champions: TJC defeats Louisburg (N.C.) in NJCAA Final


tjc mens national champs
Tyler Junior College players get together for celebration picture after winning the NCJAA Division I men's soccer national title Saturday in Albany, Ga. (Courtesy photo)

The Tyler Junior College Apaches are kings of the soccer pitch for the third time in four years.

Joseph Pratt, a sophomore midfielder, scored in overtime to lift the Apaches to a 1-0 victory over Louisburg (N.C.) College in the NJCAA Division I Soccer Championship on Saturday in Albany, Ga.

Darton College hosted the tourney.

The Apaches also won the championship in 2009 and 2010; and after finishing third last year TJC is back on top.

Steve Clements, who has led Tyler to all three of its national titles, was voted Coach of the Tournament.

Casey Osborne, a sophomore forward from Atlanta, Ga., was named Most Valuable Player of the Tournament.

Also making the all-tournament team from TJC were Nathan Trout, a sophomore defender from Liverpool, England; and Chris McGaughey, a sophomore goalkeeper from Armagh, Ireland.

Since Clements moved the athletic Osborne to the back along with Trout before the regional tournament, the Apaches have allowed just one goal (seven matches).

TJC, which entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed, finishes the season with a record of 20-3-1, including a seven-game winning streak.

Louisburg drops its first game of the season to finish at 21-1-0.

“This was pretty neat,” Clements said. “… The boys have worked so hard. I’m awfully proud of the program; the administration and training staff … and Tim Drain (athletic director) and all the support staff.

“It was a great year and a great effort. I am so proud of the team; especially the sophomores.”

The two teams battled back and forth throughout and ended regulation tied at 0-0.

Then Pratt, of Gaithersburg, Md., received a cross from Wayne Hall, a sophomore from Newcastle, England, touched the ball and netted the goal in the sixth minute of overtime.

“We had controlled play, but we could not finish,” Clements said of regulation. “When you go into overtime, it is anybody’s ballgame.”

Clements also praised the Louisburg team which had entered the game unbeaten.

Other members of the Apaches include Tyler Atwell, Dylan Ayers, Hector Lasso, Hall, Abdoulaye Faly, Atsou Ayah, Jarrad White, Mike Paye, Fernando Castellanos, Junior Spinks, Oneil Fisher, Ajani Clarence, Jesus Covarrubias, Connor Adamson, Jaylen Paige, Hamza El Otmani, Reed Pool, Ke-A Kaino, Patrick Foley, Essie Aburime, Alan Rovira, Trout, Dakota Holmes and Shafiek Erwin. Head coach is Steve Clements, while assistant coaches are Jose Robles and Kyle Timm.

Although the 90 minutes of regulation time were scoreless, there were several buildups and shots that kept the intensity and anxiety high as both teams battled for the ultimate goal in NJCAA soccer. Tyler and Louisburg were a very physical matchup as well, and it was a game riddled with a lot of hard challenges and tackles.

For a moment it looked like Louisburg would have a 1-0 lead after Hurricane forward Jacques Francios scored off of a cross in the first 15 minutes of play, but the goal was disallowed as the Hurricanes were ruled offside.

Louisburg managed to keep central Apache defender Trout from scoring on any of 10 corner kicks, and the Hurricane defense allowed only four shots on goal.

The Apaches allowed no shots on goal, showing a strong defensive effort that kept Louisburg, who scored 12 goals in the tournament, at bay.

NJCAA National Tournament

Most Valuable Player — Casey Osborne, Tyler Junior College

Coach of the Tournament — Steve Clements, Tyler Junior College

Sportsmanship — Darton State (Ga.) College

All-Tournament

Mitch Jensen, Western Wyoming

Seamus Sharkey, Monroe (N.Y.)

Gianluca Cuomo, Monroe (N.Y.)

Troy Tucker, Darton State (Ga.)

Andrew Palumbo, Darton State (Ga.)

Adrian Gonzales, Louisburg (N.C.)

Nathan Trout, Tyler Junior College

Amara Souman, Illinois Central

Jacques Francois, Louisburg (N.C.)

Casey Osborne, Tyler Junior College

Chris McGaughey, Tyler Junior College

Brad Vorv, Louisburg (N.C.)