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.
Two players from Richland College’s women’s soccer team and one from the men’s soccer team were recently selected as Division III First Team All American by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA).
Cassandra Andrade and Lauren Vasquez, both playing the forward position, were selected from the women’s team and Fernando Arellano, a central defense player, was selected from the men’s team.
To be selected as a First Team All American means that player is one of the top 11 NJCAA Division III soccer players in the country.
In addition to being named All Americans, both Andrade and Vasquez were named First Team All-Conference. Andrade was also named Metro Athletic Conference (MAC) Offensive MVP and Vasquez was named overall MAC Conference MVP.
“Both young women were very good for us this year,” said Richland College women’s soccer coach Scott Toups. “Lauren served as the team captain and also led the team in scoring. Her leadership is invaluable on and off the field. Lauren plays very hard and works harder than just about any other player I have ever coached.
“Cassandra was already a very accomplished forward when she returned to the team for her sophomore year. She scored 12 goals and had seven assists for 31 points this season. She drew a lot of attention from opposing team defenses, which created scoring opportunities for other team members. Both of these girls were successful because they had each other, along with a very good Richland team around them.”
On the men’s team, Arellano was not only the team’s best defender, but he also was a sophomore leader who organized, communicated and supported the defense and the team.
“Fernando was a key ingredient in our success,” said Richland College’s men’s soccer coach Sean Worley. “He is an excellent player and leader. He is well-liked and respected by his teammates and he was a pleasure to coach this year.”
Richland College’s women’s team ended with a 16-6-2 record, and the men’s team ended with a 24-2-1 record. Both teams played in their respective national championship games this season.