-Marcelo Maziero, Contributing writer
As the semester comes to an end, so do some Choctaw sports. The Mississippi College soccer season in particular ended last Wednesday, Dec. 3. The MC soccer team had one of the most successful seasons in the college’s history, wrapping up the season with a 12-6-2 record (12 wins, 6 losses and 2 ties) and entering the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) as the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
This season was also the first season playing against DII colleges in the Gulf South Conference (GSC). After winning 12 games out of 20 this season and being the NCCAA Mideast champions, the Choctaws headed to Florida for the National Championship.
The National Christian College Athlete Association tournament was composed of nine teams, divided in three different pools.The winner of each pool, along with a wild card, advances to the semi-finals; the two winners of the semi-finals will advance to the finals.
The MC soccer team faced their first challenge Monday afternoon, Dec. 1, against the Roberts Wesleyan College Redhawks. According to a recap of the game, “After both teams were held scoreless over the first 41 minutes, the Choctaws finally broke through when junior Ewahia Amhanesi scored his sixth goal of the season to give MC the 1-0 halftime lead. Senior Brian Vasquez tallied his 17th assist of the season and 40th of his career, both of which are school records.
The Choctaws kept the one-goal lead until the 79th minute when Michael Cunningham knotted the match for the Hawks on an unassisted goal. Senior Stephen Roberson broke the tie in the 85th minute when he scored his 10th goal of the season on an assist from sophomore George Fradenburg. It appeared as though MC was headed to an opening match victory, but the Redhawks got another unassisted goal from Cunningham in the 89th minute to equalize and send the match into overtime. Both teams saw opportunities in the extra periods, but neither could convert.” With this result, each team earned one point in pool A of the tournament.
The second game was going to decide if the Choctaws would stay in the tournament or not. Because of the tie in the first game, MC needed to win the game to stay alive in the competition, but that was not what happened. Playing their second game in the tournament against the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfishes, the game was “tied over the first 43 minutes, but Daniel Pena broke through in the final moments of the first half, scoring his fourth goal of the season on an assist from Lucas Coutinho. PBA would take 14 shots on the day with nine coming on goal. Freshman goalkeeper Humberto Pelaez and the MC defense kept the team in the match with eight saves”, according to the game recap.
The loss put an end to the MC Choctaws season, but the feeling in the air was one of victory. “We had a great season overall. We faced a lot of challenges and could overcome most of them, and that’s what brought us to the Nationals,” said sophomore Victor Marinho. “Of course we wanted to win and stay in the tournament, but sadly we couldn’t overcome this last challenge. The important thing is that we are all happy with our results. We just joined the DII colleges this semester and we still managed to be the No. 1 seed in the National tournament, if this is not a reason to be happy with our performance what would be?”
The last match of the season was also the last match for six seniors players. “Brian Vasquez, who finished his MC career with 40 assists, including 17 this season, both of which were school records. Stephen Roberson and Francisco DeAnda also wrapped up their time in Choctaw uniforms, each leading the team with 10 goals scored. Fredy Banuelos, Anthony Chambers and Pedro Hernandez also finished up their careers.”