MC Men’s Soccer Team Boosts Recruiting with ASC Championship Victory
November 5, 2012
Winning their first American Southwest Conference championship in the program’s history, Mississippi College’s men’s soccer team will receive a substantial boost when it comes to recruiting players in future years.
Less than 24 hours after MC’s dramatic 5-4 triumph Sunday over the University of Texas-Dallas, fans, players and coaches all predicted that recruiting on the Clinton campus will only get better.
“This puts them on the map and raises the bar,” says soccer fan Holly Tupper of Baton Rouge after she joined hundreds of fans jamming the stands at Longabaugh Field on November 4.
Tupper, and her MC Lady Choctaws volleyball teammate Nicole Horton of Rye, Colorado say anytime that Mississippi College wins an ASC championship, it catches the attention of players nationwide and the news media.
“This will be awesome for recruiting,” said MC Lady Choctaws soccer player Moira Kelly, a sophomore from Saint Louis, Missouri after cheering on the men’s team.
In his 10th season as the head coach of the Choctaws men’s soccer team, Kevin Johns had twice come close before to winning the ASC title in early November.
It took overtime, and nervous minutes of penalty kicks before MC junior goalkeeper Robert Jackson finally sealed the victory with three saves. President Lee Royce walked onto the field minutes after the win and congratulated all of the MC players and coaches. Plenty of hugs were shared all over Longabaugh Field and in the stands.
“This win is attributed to all of our alumni and previous coaches that helped build this program,” Johns said after all the celebrating died down a bit. “We’ve come close two other times and not been able to finish the job. This time we were able to get it done and now we’re headed to the NCAA Tournament.”
Tournament MVP Adrian Moreno said his team refused to make mistakes in overtime and “really rose to the challenge.”
The Choctaws are 12-5-2 and will open the NCAA Division III tournament against Whitworth on Saturday November 10 in San Antonio, Texas. Trinity University hosts the first and second round matches. The Tigers face Claremont-Mudd-Scripps in their first round game.
No matter how the post-season game goes, winning the ASC championship was “a pretty good feeling,” says MC soccer player Diego Awala, a senior from San Antonio. Diego will travel to his hometown in a few days and that’s making the Choctaws next soccer game much more special for the Texan.
It’s also the first time he’s won a championship and Diego thanks coaches like Johns for playing a huge role in that achievement. In high school, Diego played on a talented team that finished as a runner-up.
The constant buzz of the crowd of Mississippi College Choctaws fans throughout Sunday’s “amazing game” was what really impressed MC student Joy Bolding of Decatur, Alabama.
“There was a lot of excitement,” Bolding said. “This helps increase school spirit.”
Joy was still pumped about the gutsy performance of MC goalie Robert Jackson, as he withstood the pressure of penalty kicks by UT-Dallas as a WJTV cameraman filmed the action. “He did such an amazing job,” she said, while joining her friends for lunch at the MC cafeteria.
Darryl Longabaugh, whose Lady Choctaws fell to Texas-Tyler in a hard-fought shootout Friday to be eliminated from ASC title hopes, was part of the legion of MC supporters at Sunday’s contest.
“Kevin (Johns) and his young men have done a great job this year playing as a team,” Longabaugh said. “It was fun to watch them win the title!”
At the same time, Longabaugh kept tabs on his four-year-old son, who was among the youngest Choctaws fans on hand.
The MC Lady Choctaws coach predicts only good things ahead for both teams. Great facilities have played a big part in the success of both soccer teams in recent years.
Longabaugh Field is named for the coach’s father. Opened in 2006, the natural grass soccer facility was made possible through the generous donations of Jewell Longabaugh in memory of her late husband, Robert P. Longabaugh, who “loved life and loved Mississippi College.”
With construction starting in 2010 and opening a year later, the Robert G.W. Girling III Field House serves both the MC men’s and women’s soccer teams with locker rooms, offices for coaches, a media room, laundry facilities and an athletic training room. The fieldhouse was made possible thanks to donations from the Girling family and other friends and family of the Choctaw programs.
Having top-notch facilities on the Clinton campus and winning the ASC title will help Kevin Johns even more in recruiting, Longabaugh said. “That’s one area that I think he does a great job.”