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The soccer team poses on the field with the trophy. Richland College Men’s Soccer Team Wins 8th National Championship

The Richland College men’s soccer team, the 2018 national champions, traveled to Herkimer, NY, this past weekend to participate in the 2019 NJCAA Division III Men’s Soccer Championship. Despite cold and sometimes snowy weather conditions throughout the weekend, the Thunderducks prevailed and competed in the championship game Nov. 17 against home team Herkimer College, emerging victorious with a 2-1 victory and an eighth national championship.

This title is the first for Richland College head coach Raul Herrera, a former assistant coach who stepped into the role midseason when former head coach Sean Worley retired. Herrera is also a Richland College alumnus and was the starting goalkeeper on the 2006 national championship team.

The championship game started with an opening score by Toi Yamaoka, assisted by forward Takayoshi Wyatt. The score stayed 1-0 until the 76th minute of the game, when Herkimer player Mupenzi Irakiza had a game-tying score. Despite the Herkimer Generals dominating play for the final 15 minutes of the game, the Thunderducks scored on a successful penalty kick by Alvara Tudanca with just two seconds left, clinching the title and ending the season undefeated, with an overall record of 18-0-1.

The championship tournament began Thursday, Nov. 14, with Richland winning 4-0 against Sussex County Community College in the quarterfinals. During the semifinal round Nov. 15, Richland cruised to a 5-0 victory against Genesee Community College, which secured their spot in the title game. This was the third time that Richland and Herkimer have competed against each other for the national championship.

Richland defender Mariano Fazio was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, and Wyatt was named Most Valuable Offensive Player. Herrera received Coach of the Tournament honors. In addition, Richland players Sergio Baena and Henry Sach were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Richland College has won the men’s soccer national championship in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2018 and now 2019. A ring ceremony to honor the 2019 team will be scheduled this coming spring.

For a recap of the 2019 championship, visit https://www.njcaa.org/sports/msoc/2019-20/div3/national_championship/championship_recap. Additional information about the Richland College men’s soccer team is available at https://www.richlandcollege.edu/sliferlc/athletics/mensoccer/pages/default.aspx.