Bulldogs bound for NJCAA Soccer Tournament in Florida

CISCO — Bulldog soccer won the District I Championship here Sunday over Cisco, and earned the team’s 6th berth in the National Junior College Athletic Association Women’s D-I Tournament.

Third-ranked, Region XIV champion Navarro’s 2-1 win over the Wranglers enabled the Bulldogs to claim the final of 12 qualifying slots for the November 17-23 national tournament at Melbourne, Fla.

Not only did the Bulldogs (16-3-1) beat the Region V champions for the third time this season, they extended their current winning streak to four matches as they head into their first NJCAA Tournament appearance since 2008.  In that season, a second-ranked Navarro team carried a 16-0-1 mark to nationals.

Joining Navarro at Melbourne, Fla., is a field of 11 other qualifying squads ranked among last week’s NJCAA Top 20 teams.  Not only has the poll been validated, but at least eight squads will be returning from the 2012 tournament, including champion Paradise Valley CC, Az.,  There are no Cinderellas, unknowns or surprises booking flights to Florida.

The 2013 qualifiers, alphabetically by District, with latest ranking and season record included, are:

(A) Paradise Valley CC, Az., (No. 2 / 19-1-1);

(B) Butler CC, Ks., (No. 5 / 21-2-0);

(C) Laramie County, Wyo.,  (No. 10 / 17-2-1);

(D) St. Louis Community College, (No. 20 / 13-5-2);

(E) Monroe College, NY, (No. 11 / 13-1);

(F) Lake County, (No. 19 / 16-3-0);

(G) Owens CC, Ohio, (No. 13 / 17-2-0);

(H) Eastern Florida State (No. 18 / 11-2-1);

(I) Navarro (No. 3 / 16-3-1);

(J) Darton State College, Ga., (No. 4 / 20-1 record);

(K) Iowa Western, (No. 1 / 17-2); and

(L) College of Southern Maryland, (No. 8 / 17-1-0).

The most recent NJCAA poll released reflected the tightest voting of the season — for a reason.  The competition on paper appears very even and runs deep.  For example, Iowa Western, Paradise Valley and Navarro have jockeyed for the top three spots during the last four weeks. When the Final 12 of the Top 20 assemble for a week at the Melbourne Campus Soccer Facility, it will be decided on the pitch.

IWCC, PVCC, Eastern Florida (as Brevard CC), Lake County, Darton, Monroe, St. Louis, and Laramie County are returning from the 2012 field.

Additionally, host Eastern Florida State will get a giant boost with a homefield advantage.

Navarro with a 6-1-1 record in 8 matches played against 5 of the Top 17 teams this season, dropped a 1-0 decision to Laramie County, Wy., on Sunday, Sept. 1 at TJC’s Pat Hartley Field during opening weekend.  Monroe College’s Mustangs are not to be confused with the Monroe CC Tribunes that the Bulldogs defeated in Rochester, NY, but the Mustangs qualified Sunday as District E champions by beating the Community College of Rhode Island Knights — a team NC also beat 5-1 during an October weekend in Rochester.

The Bulldogs have fashioned nine shutout victories and pulled out two overtime wins during the season.  Another win will enable NC to match a school single-season victory mark of 17 first accomplished by the 2004 squad.

All NJCAA Tournament qualifying teams will attend a 6:30 pm November 17 Recognition Banquet at The Maxwell King Center For Performing Arts on the Eastern Florida State campus. First-round games will played at 10 am, 1 pm, 4 pm and 7 pm on November 18.