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Dec. 15, 2008

Two Jaguars named All America

A pair of standouts on the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team, Mike Mecerod and Fode Diallo, were named Division 1 honorable mention All-America this week by the National Junior College Athletics Association.

Diallo, a freshman sweeper from Dunwoody, Ga., North Springs H.S., was a rock of the Jaguars’ defense, which allowed a miserly 11 goals in 23 matches. Sophomore striker Mike Mecerod, from Long Island, N.Y., powered a balanced-scoring offense, tallying 12 goals and adding an equal number of assists. Diallo was doubly honored when the National Soccer Coaches Association of America selected him as second-team All-America. He anchored a back line that was nearly impenetrable in three NJCAA tournament games. The defense allowed only a penalty kick as the Jaguars finished tied for fifth place in the nation with a 17-3-3 record.

It marked GPC’s fifth straight trip to the national tournament. Mecerod was instrumental in the Jaguars’ 2007 near-perfect season and national runner-up title. GPC won the national championship in 2005, was runner-up in 2004 and also placed fifth in 2006. Mecerod earned honorable mention despite modest statistics for a team scoring leader, a result of a leg injury that led to postseason surgery. Also because the Jaguars carry a deep bench and substitute frequently, team leaders don’t always post head-turning stats. As co-captain this season, Mecerod impressed upon the team that anything less than a championship would be a disappointment.

When the Jaguars stumbled into a rare two-match losing streak, Mecerod and a teammate called a players meeting in an attempt to get the group more focused and determined. GPC then swept its last seven regular-season games before falling to Garden City Community College in the opening round of the NJCAA tournament on penalty kicks following a scoreless tie. Both Mecerod and Diallo were selected to the All Region 17 first team. While Mecerod moves on to a four-year school, Diallo is eligible to return for his second season at GPC. His presence would all but guarantee that the Jaguars, renowned for their stinginess in allowing goals, would maintain their like-a-rock reputation next year.

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November 24, 2008

Seven Jaguars make All Region 17 team

Region 17 champion Georgia Perimeter College placed three players on the All Region 17 first team, while four other Jaguars earned All Region honors. Sophomore striker Mike Mecerod joined two freshmen, sweeper Fode Diallo and midfielder Yeong Choi, on the first team. Two freshmen, midfielder Eder Molina and goalkeeper Jon Foley, were selected to the second team. Sophomore striker Bedi Swan and soph defender Marco Casanova were named honorable mention.

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November 23, 2008

GPC ties for fifth in nation

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team closed out its season on Sunday with a 1-1 tie against South Suburban College (Ill.), giving the Jaguars a share of fifth place at the eight-team National Junior College Athletic Association tournament in Phoenix.

GPC allowed only one goal in three matches, other than penalty kicks in a shootout Thursday, but could not muster up enough offense to generate more than one win. The Jaguars wound up 17-3-3 for the year.

After a scoreless first period, sophomore striker Bedi Swan scored 10 minutes into the second half to give the Jaguars a 1-0 lead. Swan, one of two returning starters from last year's national runner-up team, was assisted by Julio Anzueto.

Midway through the second half, GPC’s Emmanuel Barriyiga was called for a foul on the edge of the penalty box. South Suburban (21-3-1) converted the penalty shot, and the 1-1 score held up despite numerous scoring opportunities for both sides.

Goalkeeper Julian Garcia kept the GPC goal unscathed aside from the penalty kick. He recorded five saves.

The outcome means Georgia Perimeter will be ranked in a tie for fifth place with South Suburban in the final NJCAA Division 1 national rankings.

“A share of fifth place is good in a way, but it wasn’t what we expected or wanted,” said GPC assistant coach Ron Moore. “We were hoping to get out of here not giving up a goal since we weren’t scoring a lot.”

But Moore and head coach Marc Zagara expressed appreciation for the squad that took GPC to its fifth consecutive appearance at the nationals.

“We battled back in the second half of the season,” Moore said.

In three of the past five tournaments they have played in the championship game, bringing home the national championship trophy in 2005 and the runner-up title in 2004 and 2007. The Jaguars also placed fifth in 2006.

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November 21, 2008

Jaguars advance with 4th straight shutout

Stinginess may be unseasonable in the week leading up to the Thanksgiving holidays, but it has served the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team well.

The Jaguars notched their second straight shutout Friday at the National Junior College Athletic Association Tournament, downing Schoolcraft (Mich.) College 2-0 in Phoenix.

Fifth-seeded GPC (17-3-2) blanked Garden City Community College (Kan.) the day before but could not score itself. That match ended in a Garden City win on penalty kicks following two 10-minute goal-less overtime periods.

As a result of the marathon, the Jaguars felt fatigued Friday in the losers’ bracket game. They did not score until deep in the second half when Anderson Rico fed sophomore striker Mike Mecerod.

“We had heavy legs, so we were not doing our usual pass-and-move,” assistant coach Ron Moore said. “We were in slow motion. We finally got our act together.”

The Jaguars were protecting their narrow lead when Tondo Mazimba passed to Emmanuel Barriyigia for the clinching goal in the closing minutes.

Richard Cayonne, Mike Jennings and Fode Diallo bolstered the back line that helped GPC rack up its second shutout in a row. Jon Foley, handled goalkeeper duties for the Jaguars.

Schoolcraft, the eighth seed, finished 17-3-4.

The Jaguars wind up their season Sunday at 9 a.m. (11 Eastern) against South Suburban College (Ill.), with fifth place in the final national rankings at stake. South Suburban (21-3) defeated Community College of Baltimore County-Essex (Md.) 3-2 Friday.

GPC’s defense will have its hands full as South Suburban’s Alex Aguilar is ranked fifth in the nation in scoring. But the Jaguars have met similar challenges, most recently on Thursday, when they shut out both the 11th highest scorer, Steve Shaw, and 20th, Mario Ojeda, during their shootout loss to Garden City Community College.

The National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 men’s soccer tournament, an eight-team field, is being hosted Nov. 19-23 by Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. Please visit this site, the GPC Schedule/Results site or the tourney site at www.pvc.maricopa.edu/njcaa for updated scores and brackets.

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November 20, 2008

Heartbreaker in Phoenix for GPC

Death by penalty kicks. It's the cruelest aspect of soccer, an evil necessity to keep tie games from going forever.

Flavio Souza works among a herd of Broncbusters.

The Georgia Perimeter College men's team suffered such a fate in its last National Junior College Athletic Association tournament game, losing to Yavapai College (Ariz.) in the championship game a year ago.

The penalty-kick shootout came back to bite the Jaguars (16-3-2) again Thursday. After battling Garden City Community College (Kan.) to a scoreless tie for 110 minutes, 20 of them in overtime, fifth seed GPC nailed just one of five shootout attempts. Fourth seed Garden City (18-1-2) made two and moved onto the semifinals with a decision that goes into the books as a 0-0 tie, won by the Broncbusters on PKs by 2-1.

Julio Anzueto was the lone Jaguar to strike in the shootout.

“We played good enough to win,” GPC assistant coach Ron Moore said. “We just didn't capitalize on our penalty kicks. One out of five—that shouldn't happen.”

Two surprising misses came off the feet of strikers Bedi Swan and Mike Mecerod, the returning stalwarts from last season’s national runners-up.

Garden City goalkeeper Chris Raines and Jaguars keeper Julian Garcia both stopped the first round of penalty kicks. But Mariano Leo scored on Garcia in the second round.

Anzueto,  a freshman forward from Marietta, Ga., booted in a penalty kick to open the fourth round. But the Broncbusters’ Daniel Martinez finished the round with a score on Garcia.

That put the game on the shoulders of Mecerod, GPC’s leading scorer. His shot eluded Raines but sailed wide.

The Jaguars rode their trademark depth to a superior second half as Garden City seemed to fade. Throughout, the Broncbusters placed only a couple of shots directly at Garcia. The Jaguars fired 10 at Raines, who made several good saves and lucked out on a couple of ripe opportunities in front of the net that the Jaguars couldn’t convert.

The setback in the Jaguars’ fifth straight tournament appearance does not send them home but into a bracket from which they can emerge in fifth place.

They will tackle Schoolcraft College (Mich.), a 3-1 victim of Yavapai, Friday. Game time is 1:30 p.m. (3:30 Eastern). If the Jaguars win, they will play Sunday at 9 a.m. (11 a.m. Eastern) in the fifth-sixth place consolation game.

The National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 men’s soccer tournament, an eight-team field, is being hosted Nov. 19-23 by Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. Please visit this site, the GPC Schedule/Results site or the tourney site at www.pvc.maricopa.edu/njcaa for updated scores and brackets.

Nov. 13, 2008

Players’ meeting leads to elite eight 

Consecutive losses within a six-day period in early October had left the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team perplexed. After all, the Jaguars had stumbled only once all last season, not until the very end in the national championship match.

Doubts were creeping in on whether GPC would earn their fifth straight trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament, an eight-school affair that crowns the national champion.

Mike Mecerod wasn’t doubting. Still, he and co-captain Marco Casanova called a players-only meeting, a time-worn sports tradition for slumping teams. Sometimes they are a meaningless exercise. Other times they serve as a wake-up call.

Did this one work? Judge for yourself.

Since then, the Jaguars (16-3-1) have reeled off seven wins in a row by a combined goal count of 28-2, including a 6-0 victory over Wallace State Community College for the Southeast District championship.

The prize is a fifth seed at the NJCAA nationals in Phoenix, where they will open Thursday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. (Eastern) against fourth seed Garden City Community College (Kan.), which sports an 18-1-1 record.

“I knew we'd get back,”said Mecerod, a sophomore striker who played an integral role in last year’s NJCAA runner-up effort and made the All-Tournament team. “I just thought, ‘When is it going to come?’”

Soon enough, as it turned out, and Mecerod partly credits the get-together for the turn-around.

“We needed a heart-to-heart,” he said. “We were thinking that we were so good, that talent was going to carry us through the season. We had forgotten about determination and hard work. After that meeting, you could see a definite change in attitude in games and practice.”

Striker Bedi Swan, the other chief returning contributor, pointed to a youthful roster as a reason why the Jaguars failed to realize what it takes to contend for the title. Both Swan and Mecerod scored in last year’s championship match, so they should know what it takes.

“We were playing like individuals, not a group,” said Swan. “We needed to come together.”

“Better chemistry,”freshman midfielder Anderson Rico said of the meeting’s impact. “Players are not blaming everybody else.”

The fact that all of the Jaguars’ six goals against Wallace State came in the second  half speaks to the blessings of GPC’s trademark depth. Zagara sends waves of players onto the pitch, usually more than 20 per match, which eventually wears down opponents.

He hopes the numbers game will pay off against Garden City (17-1-2), which employs a rotation of about 15 players. Three Broncbusters rank among the top 40 scorers nationwide.

Partly because Zagara substitutes liberally, GPC hasn’t boasted statistical leaders. Mecerod and Rico pace Jaguar scorers with a modest 11 and 10 goals, respectively. Mecerod leads in assists with 12.

“That's why we substitute so much during the season—to prepare them for the tournament,” Zagara said. There, depth comes in especially handy, with the schedule requiring three matches in four days for the finalists.

In his 17th season as Georgia Perimeter’s coach, Zagara has steered the Jaguars to seven national tourneys, including three appearances in the championship game in the past four years. The 2005 event resulted in a national title. GPC finished as runner-up in 2004 and 2007 and in fifth place in 2006.

Returning this year “was up in the air for a while,” Zagara said. “We still haven't put it all together.”

Zagara regards the two highest seeds, unbeaten Yavapai College (Ariz.) and once-beaten San Jacinto College-South (Texas), as “on a level above everybody else.” Should the Jaguars prevail Thursday, Yavapai likely awaits in the semifinals. Motivation will be plentiful for GPC.

Yavapai denied GPC its second title with a come-from-behind overtime escape on penalty kicks a year ago, the Jaguars’ first loss of the season. Furthermore, it was a grudge match—in 2005 GPC defeated Yavapai 3-1 for the national title.

“It's definitely still eating at all the sophomores,” Mecerod said. “It’s kind of haunted us.”

“We're very hungry,” Swan added.

GPC’s second match will be on Friday, Nov. 21. The field takes a breather the next day and wraps up on Sunday with the consolation match and the title game.

Other contenders are Mercer County (N.J.) Community College, Essex-Baltimore County College (Md.), South Suburban College (Ill.) and Schoolcraft College (Mich.).

Zagara exudes confidence in his stout defense but is unsure if the Jaguars wield enough offensive firepower to wind up on the throne.

Strikers Swan and Mecerod sound less uncertain. This time, Swan said, “We should be able to win.”

Mecerod added, “Anything less than a championship would be a disappointment.”

The National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 men’s soccer tournament, an eight-team field, will be hosted Nov. 19-23 by Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. Please visit this site, the GPC Schedule/Results site or the tourney site at www.pvc.maricopa.edu/njcaa for updated scores and brackets.

Nov. 8, 2008

Jaguars return to nationals 

No goals scored at halftime? No sweat for the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team.

Relying on their peerless depth, the Jaguars piled up six goals after intermission to defeat Wallace State Community College 6-0 Saturday to win the Southeast District championship.

The triumph at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus sends the Jaguars (16-3-1) to their fifth consecutive National Junior College Athletic Association tournament. The eight-team field begins play Nov. 19 in Phoenix, Ariz.

“I’m very happy for the boys,” said GPC head coach Marc Zagara. “It’s been a frustrating year, but they found ways to win when they needed to.”

The highly physical Lions (14-4) fought GPC through a 0-0 first half. But, as it has demonstrated so often, the Jaguars were the fresher squad because they ran more substitutes than the opponent in and out.

“We weren't worried or panicked,” assistant coach Ron Moore said. “We’ve got so many good players.”

Two minutes into the second half, Mike Mecerod broke loose and passed to an unmarked Julio Anzueto, whose defender had fallen. Anzueto drilled the ball into the net for the first goal.

The next strike didn't come until just inside 15 minutes left, but it opened the floodgates to four more.

Brett Witlin initiated the surge with a goal after some nifty advancing by Flavio Souza and Colin Newmeyer, both of whom were credited with assists.

Bedi Swan followed quickly, scoring on a serve by Anderson Rico. Emmanuel Barryiga tallied next, assisted by Antonio Casas. Then it was Casas’ turn to score off a Richard Cayonne pass.

Jhonaton Yaya concluded the onslaught, with assists from Barryigo and Newmeyer.

The lack of substituting by the Lions “caught up with them in the second half,” Moore said.

Wallace State, located in Hanceville, Ala., also fell to Georgia Perimeter 5-0 in the championship match two years ago.

GPC’s defense stopped a nationally ranked scorer for the second straight game. A week ago, the Jaguars shut down the nation’s top junior college scorer, Adrian Klammer, in their Region 17 title victory over Young Harris.

This time it was the NJCAA’s fifth highest scorer, Antonio Cabello-Roman. The back line was rock-solid, and goalkeeper Julian Garcia turned in several spectacular saves in notching his third shutout in the Jaguars’ past four games.

Georgia Perimeter won the national championship in 2005; was runner-up in 2004 and 2007; and finished in fifth place in 2006.

The Jaguars enter the national tournament with considerable momentum. In seven matches since back-to-back losses to Darton College and Young Harris a month ago, GPC has recorded five shutouts and outscored opponents 28-2.

“With every playoff game, the guys have gotten more confident,” Moore said. He repeated Zagara’s theme that the Jaguars are finding ways to win.

“That’s what they did over last weekend and this weekend,” Zagara said. “And we’ll have the opportunity to represent the school at nationals again in ’08. We’ll see what happens.”

The National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 men’s soccer tournament, an eight-team field, will be hosted Nov. 19-23 by Paradise Valley Community College in Phoenix, Ariz. Please visit this site, the GPC Schedule/Results site or the tourney site at www.pvc.maricopa.edu/njcaa for updated scores and brackets.

Nov. 2, 2008

GPC grabs fifth straight region title  

All year long, defender Richard Cayonne has marked the opposing team’s most prolific scorer. His doggedness has been a defensive key as Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team allowed just 10 goals all season.

On Sunday in Albany, Cayonne drew Adrian Klammer of Young Harris College, the nation’s junior college scoring leader and Player of the Year in Region 17 (Georgia Junior College Athletic Association).

Richard Cayonne.

Cayonne clamped down on Klammer, and his teammates handled the rest of the Mountain Lions in a 1-0 Jaguars triumph for the region championship. The victory vaults them within one game of a fifth consecutive trip to the National Junior College Athletic Association national tournament.

Georgia Perimeter (15-3-1) has home-field advantage Saturday against Wallace State Community College in the Southeast District championship match. Game time is 1 p.m. on GPC’s Dunwoody Campus.

Wallace State, from Hanceville, Ala., is 15-3 on the season, but the Lions are unranked in the NJCAA coaches poll. Saturday’s game could be considered a rubber match.The two teams met two years ago for the district title, with GPC winning 5-0 and advancing to the nationals.

Ranked No. 10 in the NJCAA poll, the Jaguars had given up half of their season goals in two matches against 14th-rated Young Harris. The teams had split—GPC winning 6-3 in September and Young Harris winning 2-1 in October—making this region championship also a rubber match.

The Mountain Lions mustered a mere two shots all afternoon, but one struck the crossbar. It bounced away, keeping the game scoreless until GPC broke through with 17 minutes left.

Coach Marc Zagara, who employed 22 players during the game, had much of his second unit on the field. One backup, Brett Witlin, passed to the top of the box to Flavio Souza, who outfoxed three defenders and blasted the ball past the keeper.

“It was a beautiful play,” assistant coach Ron Moore said.

The one goal held up in a highly physical game controlled by GPC, which launched eight shots.

“It was a war out there,” Moore said.

Julian Garcia, who has coped with a back injury, saved both Young Harris shots. “Our guys pretty much shut them down,” Moore said.

The Southeast District Championship Game will be played on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 1 p.m. at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

Nov. 1, 2008

Jaguars advance to region final

As returning sophomores, Mike Mecerod and Bedi Swan were the two players being most counted on when Georgia Perimeter College dove into its season more than two months ago.

In the Jaguars’ Region 17 semifinal game Saturday, the veteran pair stepped up, accounting for every goal during a 3-1 victory over Middle Georgia College in Albany.

The win in the region (Georgia Junior College Athletic Association) tournament advanced GPC (14-3-1) to the title match Sunday (Nov. 2) against Young Harris College.

“Mike and Bedi have been hurt most of the season, so they haven't produced as many goals as they did last year," assistant coach Ron Moore said. “Their work paid off [Saturday]. They are warriors."

And they can thank Anderson Rico, who assisted on all three goals. He sent the ball forward to Mecerod during the 35th minute of the first half, and the team's leading scorer converted.

Middle Georgia (12-5-2) squared it at 1-1 in the second half, cashing in on one of only three shots. Then the Jaguars went bang-bang in an amazing span of 21 seconds.

First, Mecerod rocketed a direct kick from 25 yards out over the wall of Middle Georgia defenders, striking the underneath of the crossbar. The ball ricocheted into the goal.

On the next possession, Middle Georgia turned it over, and Swan drilled a left-footer from 25 yards away into the upper left corner of the net. The clock showed 6:17 left.

The Jaguars, who attempted 13 shots, maintained their composure before the outburst despite the growing likelihood of overtime.

“I don't think we panicked or felt like we were going to lose,” Moore said.

Not with Mecerod and Swan showing the way to their teammates. “Those two are hungry to get back to the national championships,” Moore said.

For Region 17 tournament results and other information, visit http://faculty.sgc.edu/soccer/region17soccer2008.html

Oct. 23, 2008

Jaguars clinch first-round bye

Georgia Perimeter College earned a bye in the Region 17 men's soccer tournament Thursday with a 6-0 win over Georgia Military in Milledgeville.

The 14th-ranked Jaguars (13-3-1) piled up four goals within the first 20 minutes against winless GMC (0-13). It was their fourth straight victory and clinched first place in the North Sub-Region.

Sophomore striker Bedi Swan, in his final regular season outing, accounted for two goals and two assists. Other goals were scored by Anderson Rico, Flavio Souza, Mike Mecerod and Richard Cayonne.

Julian Garcia went the distance in the net, notching two saves.

The victory blesses GPC with a first-round bye in the regional tournament. In the semifinals on Nov. 1, the Jaguars play a team to be determined Saturday. If they advance, they compete for the region title on Nov. 2. Both games will be in Albany.

GPC’s semifinal opponent on Nov. 1 will be either Truett-McConnell, Middle Georgia or South Georgia.

This Saturday’s game between Middle Georgia and South Georgia will determine the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in the South Sub-Region standings. The loser will play Truett-McConnell in the first round of the tournament on Wednesday, while the victor in Saturday’s game will win the South Sub-Region and draw a bye like GPC.

“Our kids are focused on the big picture now—first winning the regional tournament,” assistant coach Ron Moore said. “They are hungry to go to the nationals.”

Three wins, capped by Southeast District championship, would put them there.

For Region 17 soccer standings and other information, visit http://faculty.sgc.edu/soccer/region17soccer2008.html

Oct. 21, 2008

Jaguars stalk division title

The Georgia Perimeter College men's soccer team picked an opportune time Tuesday to put together its finest match of the year. The Jaguars took out Truett-McConnell College 5-0 on the Dunwoody campus to close in on the North Division title of Region 17.

The triumph moved GPC to 9-2 in region play, a half-game behind Young Harris (10-2). Should the Jaguars wrap up their regular season by beating winless Georgia Military on Thursday in Milledgeville, they would pull into a first-place tie and be declared the division champion because of goals difference.

The rivals split their two games this season, but GPC has a cumulative goals advantage of 7-5. The reward for a division title is a first-round bye in the six-team region playoffs (known also as the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association tournament).

Tuesday, the Jaguars clinched by halftime, which ended 4-0.

“It was a better game. We worked a little harder in the first half than we have all year and we scored four goals,” head coach Marc Zagara said.

Assistant coach Ron Moore added, “It was a total team effort. We clicked on all cylinders.”

Bedi Swan provided bookend goals in the first period, with help from Mike Mecerod on the first and Anderson Rico and Luis Mendez on the second.

Swan, in turn, passed to Rico for another first-half goal, and Colin Newmeyer delivered to Flavio Souza for the other.

Team scoring leader Mecerod capped off the explosion in the second half, with Swan assisting.

In goal, Jon Foley thwarted 10 Truett-McConnell attempts in what was anticipated as a competitive match. GPC won the first encounter 2-1 at home.

The Jaguars enter Thursday’s final regular season game, which begins at 5 p.m. at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, with a 12-3-1 overall record and ranked No. 14 in the National Junior College Athletic Association coaches’ poll.

For Region 17 soccer standings and other information, visit http://faculty.sgc.edu/soccer/region17soccer2008.html

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

Oct. 19, 2008

Jaguars edge South Georgia

They like Mike. The Jaguars, that is, after Mike Mecerod’s two goals propelled the Georgia Perimeter men's soccer team to a critical 2-1 win Sunday over South Georgia College in Douglas.

The verdict keeps GPC in contention for the North Division title of Region 17 (Georgia Junior College Athletic Association). The quest continues Tuesday against Truett-McConnell College at on GPC’s Dunwoody Campus in a make-up of an early-season rainout.

The Jaguars (11-3-1, 8-2 Region 17), who have slipped to No. 14 in the National Junior College Athletic Association rankings, fell behind 1-0 early against South Georgia (11-3-1, 7-2-1). South Georgia is one of three teams who received NJCAA national poll votes but failed to crack the 15-team poll.

Mecerod tied it with six minutes left in the half, assisted by Anderson Rico. He put the Jaguars up for good with a second-half goal.

Goalkeeper Julian Garcia stopped 10 South Georgia shots, while an 11th sailed wide. The Jaguars made the most of their nine attempts.

“A big win,” assistant coach Ron Moore said. “They came at us hard. We played a little better than the previous two road losses.”

Tuesday’s showdown with Truett-McConnell begins at 3 p.m. at Dunwoody Campus. Then the Jaguars travel Thursday, Oct. 23, for their final regular-season game at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville.

GPC holds second place in the region’s North Division, while Young Harris College is atop the standings. Truett-McConnell (8-4-1, 6-4) is in third place.

A victory over TMC and Georgia Military College would tie GPC with Young Harris for first place in the division. But Georgia Perimeter would win the top seed in the region tournament at the end of the month because the Jaguars scored more goals in their two matches with Young Harris.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

Oct. 14, 2008

GPC bounces back to winning ways

A rare two-game losing streak was not only halted Tuesday by the Georgia Perimeter College men's soccer team. The Jaguars buried it at home against Gordon College, winning 5-0 to remain in contention for the North Division title of Region 17 (Georgia Junior College Athletic Association).

Mike Mecerod, playing with nagging knee and hamstring injuries, produced two goals and one assist for the Jaguars (10-3-1, 7-2 GJCAA). The Highlanders dropped to 3-11-2, 2-8 GJCAA) in the region.

"It's good to win, since we had those two losses," assistant coach Ron Moore said. "We played pretty good."

Julian Garcia, in goal for the injured Jon Foley, swatted away six shots by the Highlanders to earn the shutout.

GPC generated 15 shots. Mecerod struck four minutes into the game, assisted by Brett Witlin. Six minutes later, Flavio Souza scored on a pass from Richard Cayonne. Just before halftime, Mecerod tallied again.

The fourth goal was started by Mecerod, who delivered to Souza. Johnaton Yaya closed out the scoring, fed by Luis Mendez.

"We should have scored nine goals," Moore said of GPC's dominance.

The Jaguars wrap up their regular season road schedule on Sunday against South Georgia College in Douglas. GPC must win to keep pace with division leader Young Harris, who also has two region defeats. Also in the race is the third-place Truett-McConnell Bears, who visit Georgia Perimeter on Oct. 21 at the Dunwoody Campus, beginning at 3 p.m.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

Oct. 9, 2008

Jaguars simulate Wall Street with loss

To fans of NJCAA Division 1 soccer, the “Crash of 2008” may not mean the recent collapse of financial markets and the Dow Jones average. They instead may associate it with the sudden and surprising downward spiral of the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer dynasty.

For five years, the Jaguars have been untouchable in Region 17, which consists of the two-year colleges in the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association.

Suddenly, the Jaguars have dropped two straight. Last week they lost 1-0 to Darton College. The latest was a 2-1 defeat Thursday at Young Harris College.

The Jaguars have not lost two consecutive games since the 2003 season.

The setback temporarily has cost GPC (9-3-1, 6-2 GJCAA) first place in the North division of the conference. First-place Young Harris (11-3, 7-2), Georgia Perimeter and third-place Truett McConnell (7-3-1, 6-3) are jockeying for favorable position in the region tournament at the end of this month.

The Jaguars, who retreated four spots to ninth this week in the National Junior College Athletic Association rankings, figure to fall further.

Young Harris managed only four shots against a stout GPC defense. The Mountain Lions scored their first goal when keeper Jon Foley inadvertently fumbled the ball into the net after a save. A half-minute later, the Jaguars were unable to clear the ball, and Young Harris powered in an easy goal.

Sophomore midfielder Brett Witlin tallied earlier for the Jaguars when he stormed into the box to receive a cross and banged it in. But the visitors could muster up only five more shots.

“Our defense has been pretty good,” assistant coach Ron Moore said. “Our offense just can't score.”

The Jaguars, who whipped Young Harris 6-3 two weeks ago, take on Gordon College (2-9-2, 2-6) on the Dunwoody campus at 4 p.m. next Tuesday.

The extent of GPC’s bearish downturn may be determined by two key upcoming region games. Young Harris and Truett-McConnell square off Tuesday in Cleveland, and then Georgia Perimeter hosts Truett-McConnell on Oct. 21. If those matches turn out in GPC’s favor, the Crash of 2008 could amount to only a mild recession.

For Region 17 soccer standings and other information, visit:

http://faculty.sgc.edu/soccer/region17soccer2008.html

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

Oct. 7, 2008

Former Jaguar finalist for pro honor

Former Georgia Perimeter College soccer star Martin Nunez has been named a finalist for 2008 Rookie of The Year in the United Soccer League First Division.

A speedy midfielder for the Carolina RailHawks, Nunez scored five goals and added two assists for 12 points this season. He scored more goals than the other rookie finalists, Osvaldo Alonso of the Charleston Battery and Vicente Arze of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

In the final games of the season, Nunez was instrumental for the RailHawks (9-11-10), helping them win a second consecutive Southern Derby Cup and almost earn a spot in postseason play.

“He has had a phenomenal season and is an exceptional playmaker and attacking midfielder,” said RailHawks Head Coach Scott Schweitzer.

Playing at Georgia Perimeter as a freshman in 2006, Nunez led the nation’s two-year colleges in scoring with 30 goals and 17 assists and was named first-team All-America.

Martin Nunez is GPC's second-highest single-season scorer.

He spurred the Jaguars to 23-1-1 record and their third of four consecutive trips to the National Junior College Athletic Association tournament (they had won the national championship in 2005). But the team lapsed in one game and finished in fifth place.

His outstanding offensive production places him second at Georgia Perimeter in scoring for a single season. Ralph Rousseau holds the record with 31 goals and 17 assists in 2004.

Georgia Perimeter head coach Marc Zagara recruited Nunez from Sunset High School in Miami, Fla., where he played for state championship teams.

“Martin was one of the two or three best players to ever play at GPC,” Zagara said. “He came here a complete player and was ready for the professional ranks immediately.”

Zagara added, “At the time he left, I said he would do very well at the next level and indeed he has. I expect to see him in the MLS [Major League Soccer] soon.”

Selected by Miami-FC in the USL-1 College Draft, Nunez left GPC after his freshman season to pursue a professional career. He spent some time training with the New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer and then joined the RailHawks. USL-1 is the league in which the Atlanta Silverbacks play.

Oct. 4, 2008

Darton upsets Jaguars 1-0

For its long trip to southern Georgia on Saturday, the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team neglected to pack any offense.

The Jaguars came up blank against Darton College in a 1-0 defensive struggle in Albany. It was the first loss for GPC in the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association (Region 17).

Georgia Perimeter’s attack generated only a half-dozen shots. The Cavaliers (7-4, 3-4 GJCAA) who had lost three straight, did not create much more offense than the visitors but managed to draw a penalty kick that was successful.

“It looks like we took a couple of steps back,” assistant coach Ron Moore said. “We should have scored.”

Instead, GPC fell to 9-2-1, 6-1 in the GJCAA, with both setbacks coming on penalty kicks. Georgia Perimeter likely will fall from its No. 5 ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll.

Jaguars keeper Julian Garcia stopped every Darton attempt but the penalty try. The defense in front of him was solid.

“We’ve just got to get better offensively,” Moore said.

GPC, which is battling Truett-McConnell College and Young Harris College for the top seed in North Division of Region 17, travels to third-place Young Harris (9-3, 5-2) on Thursday for its next match. The Jaguars then return home to host Gordon College on Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. at the Dunwoody Campus.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

Sept. 30, 2008

Newmeyer lifts GPC to victory

The Georgia Perimeter College men's soccer team rarely has an easy time at Truett-McConnell College. Sure enough, the Jaguars jumped ahead Tuesday with two first-half goals, then made it hard on themselves in the second period of a 2-1 win in Cleveland, Ga.

“A game of two halves,” GPC assistant coach Ron Moore said. “We dominated the first half, and we let them back into the game. We should have scored three or four goals.”

Freshman Striker Colin Newmeyer accounted for both goals for the Jaguars. Assisting were Anderson Rico and Richard Cayonne.

With the victory Georgia Perimeter remains undefeated in the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association (Region 17). GPC (9-1-1, 6-0 GJCAA) was ranked fifth again this week in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll.

The Bears (5-2-1, 4-2) rallied after the intermission, putting pressure on GPC keeper Jon Foley with a half-dozen shots. Only one found the mark. The Jaguars aimed 12 attempts on goal.

“Getting out of there with a win is a good thing,” Moore said.

The Jaguars hit the road again Saturday, playing Darton College (6-4, 2-4) in Albany. After a game at Young Harris College on Oct. 9, they return home to host Gordon College on Oct. 14 at 4 p.m.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

Sept. 23, 2008

Jaguars scorch net in big win

leading player

Freshman striker Colin Newmeyer scored twice, helping GPC take the lead in the conference's North Division. Photo by Bill Roa

In their ninth match of the season, the Georgia Perimeter defensive-minded men's soccer team turned offensive.

The Jaguars exploded for a half-dozen goals—including two by freshman striker Colin Newmeyer—to defeat Young Harris College 6-3 in a crucial Georgia Junior College Athletic Association contest Tuesday on GPC's home field.

In doing so, Georgia Perimeter (7-1-1, 4-0 GJCAA) took the lead in the North Division of the conference and established itself as the team to beat in the region. The Mountain Lions (7-2, 4-1) also entered the game with a single defeat on its record.

"It was a better effort. We played hard for 60 out of the 90 minutes. It was a step in the right direction," said head coach Marc Zagara two days after a disappointing 1-1 tie against Spartanburg Methodist College.

"I would not call it good soccer, however," he added. "When someone scores three goals on us, it is not good soccer."

Trailing 1-0 midway in the first half, the Jaguar's Antonio Casas evened the score with an assist by Qassimlu Hamad. Late in the period, Bediako Swan and Yeong Choi scored to give GPC a 3-1 cushion at the intermission. Paulo Amorim and Mike Mecerod respectively chalked up assists on the goals.

The Mountain Lions shrunk the gap with a goal early in the second half. But Mecerod answered quickly, scoring on a pass from Flavio Souza to put Georgia Perimeter up 4-2.

Newmeyer then gave GPC some welcome insurance with two goals, aided by Anderson Rico and Casas.

The Jaguars converted on nearly half of their 13 shots on the net. At the other end, Jon Foley saved eight of 11 Young Harris attempts.

GPC kicks back for a week before resuming with a conference game next Tuesday, Sept. 30, against Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, Ga., beginning at 3 p.m. Then the Jaguars continue their road trip with a game at Darton College on Oct. 4 and a grudge match at Young Harris on Oct. 9. Their next home game will be on Oct. 14 against Gordon College.

The Jaguars' home soccer games are played at GPC's Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

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Sept. 21, 2008

Spartanburg surprises Jaguars 1-1

The first out-of-state game of the season left the Georgia Perimeter College men's soccer team in a state of frustration.

The Jaguars, despite a better offensive showing, tied Spartanburg Methodist College 1-1 on Sunday in South Carolina, scoring only on a penalty kick by Mike Mecerod.

GPC aimed a dozen shots, nearly twice as many shots as the unranked Pioneers (3-1-2), but could not scratch other than the uncontested penalty boot after Mecerod was taken down in the box during the first half. GPC keeper Julian Garcia went the distance, allowing a goal and stopping six potential others.

GPC assistant coach Ron Moore said he was disappointed in the match, saying the Jaguars played well short of their collective ability.

"A tie is better than a loss, I guess," said Moore, who expects the Jaguars to drop from their No. 5 ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association rankings.

Georgia Perimeter has little time to bounce back before confronting Young Harris College at 4 p.m. Tuesday on GPC's Dunwoody Campus in a critical Georgia Junior College Athletic Association game. The Jaguars (6-1-1, 3-0 GJCAA) and Young Harris (7-1, 4-0) are tied for first place in the North Division of the GJCAA (Region 17) standings.

The Jaguars' home soccer games are played at GPC's Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

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Sept. 18, 2008

GPC defense stymies Gordon

In a dominating performance that was not reflected in the final score, the Georgia Perimeter College men's soccer team downed Gordon College 2-0 in a Georgia Junior College Athletic Association match on Thursday in Barnesville.

The more telling numbers: 19-1. Those were shots on goal. Jaguars goalkeeper Jon Foley needed to make only a single save.

"This was a total team effort," assistant coach Ron Moore said. "We finally played good soccer; we just couldn't score like we want to."

GPC got their goals about a minute apart in the first half. Anderson Rico scored off a pass from Emmanuel Barriyiga. Then Rico and Colin Newmeyer both assisted on a bulls-eye by Paulo Amorim.

Ranked fifth in the latest NJCAA poll, the Jaguars (6-1, 3-0 GJCAA) were able to use nearly their entire roster as Gordon never threatened to close the gap.

The team travels out of state this weekend to Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist College for a Sunday match at 1 p.m.

Then they host Young Harris College on Tuesday, Sept. 23, at GPC's Dunwoody Campus. The Jaguars and Young Harris (6-1, 3-0 GJCAA) stand in first and second place, respectively, in the North Division Region 17 (GJCAA) standings.

The Jaguars' home soccer games are played at GPC's Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

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Sept. 13, 2008

Mecerod powers Jaguars past Tri-County

The Georgia Perimeter College men's soccer team can return to the National Junior College Athletic Association championship game this season if every Jaguar could be like Mike.

Mike Mecerod had two assists, one game-winning goal and one head gash to highlight the defending national runner-up's 3-2 win Saturday over Tri-County Technical College on the Dunwoody Campus.

In the first half, which ended with the visiting Hawks ahead 1-0, Mecerod sustained a cut on his forehead from a head butt. Wearing a wrap applied by the trainer, he returned to the game and assisted on two goals by Julio Anzueto within three minutes early in the second period.

Mecerod then broke a 2-2 tie after he weaved into the box and was taken down for a penalty. He converted with 28 minutes left to close out the scoring.

"Mike played like a warrior," GPC assistant coach Ron Moore said of the sophomore forward, who required stitches after the match.

As for the team, the Jaguars outshot their guests 22-5, with winning goalkeeper Julian Garcia turning aside three attempts. Still, Moore said, "We have a lot of work to do," a theme so far this season for the squad.

The Jaguars (5-1) go back to work Tuesday with a home conference game against Georgia Military College at 4 p.m. in Dunwoody. GPC goes into the match with a 2-0 record in the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association.

The Jaguars' home soccer games are played at GPC's Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

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Sept. 11, 2008

Defense, Mecerod stop Warriors

soccer goal

Striker Mike Mecerod shoots through a defender and the goalkeeper for the winning goal. Photo by Bill Roa

DEE-fense. That was the rallying cry for the Georgia Perimeter College men's soccer team last season in its march to the National Junior College Athletic Association championship game. And the Jaguars have picked up where they left off.

GPC collected its fourth shutout in five matches Thursday, stifling Middle Georgia College 1-0 on the Dunwoody Campus. Goalkeeper Jon Foley required three saves, all in the second half, for his third win.

In the 27th minute of the second half, sophomore striker Mike Mecerod cut a shot from the left side through a defender and the MGC goalkeeper. It seared the right corner of the net for the game's only goal. Emmanuel Barriyiga earned the assist with a crisp cross to Mecerod.

The Jaguars' lone goal allowed this season cost them their only defeat, 1-0 to Tyler (Texas) Junior College.

GPC (4-1, 2-0 GJCAA) fired eight shots on goal against Middle Georgia.

"We won and picked up another shutout," head coach Marc Zagara said. "We'll continue to build from that and work to be a better team each week."

The next potential building block comes Saturday with a game against Tri-County College at 1 p.m. on GPC's Dunwoody Campus.

The Jaguars' home soccer games are played at GPC's Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

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Sept. 6, 2008

GPC blanks Andrew

The Georgia Perimeter College men's soccer team rebounded from its first regular season loss in two years with a resounding 4-0 win Saturday over Andrew College in Cuthbert.

The Jaguars aced their first road test of the season, outshooting the hosts 12-2, while bettering their record to 3-1, 1-0 in the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association.

Julian Garcia earned the shutout in goal for GPC. Anderson Rico and Bedi Swan collected a goal and an assist apiece. Rico opened the scoring by striking in the 21st minute on a delivery from Mike Jennings, then served up Colin Newmeyer at the start of the second half.

Swan tallied on an assist by Yeong Choi before returning the favor to a teammate on the final GPC goal, passing to Flavio Souza.

"It was a total team performance," assistant coach Ron Moore said, adding, "But we're still not where we want to be."

The Jaguars are back home at the Dunwoody Campus on Thursday, facing Middle Georgia College at 2 p.m. in the first leg of a doubleheader that concludes with the women's match between the same schools.

The Jaguars' home soccer games are played at GPC's Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

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Sept. 1, 2008

No. 9 Tyler nips No. 2 Jaguars

A presidential campaign nearly 170 years ago produced one of the most famous phrases in American politics: "Tippecanoe and Tyler too."

There is no school called Tippecanoe on the GPC men's soccer team schedule, but Tyler Junior College visited the Jaguars on Labor Day in an election year and was a winner on all ballots.

Tyler slipped by Georgia Perimeter 1-0 on the Dunwoody Campus in a match-up of teams ranked in the Top Ten in the National Junior College Athletic Association coaches' poll.

It was the Jaguars' first regular season loss in two years.

The No. 9 Apaches converted a penalty kick in the 33rd minute, and the goal held up over No. 2 GPC (2-1) during a highly physical game. Freshman midfielder Harry Machacha kicked the penalty goal for Tyler.

The guests controlled play, outshooting the Jaguars 14-3. GPC's busy goalkeeper, Julian Garcia, turned back 13 shots, while his teammates could launch only three.

"Julian had two brilliant saves," said head coach Marc Zagara. "This is the fewest goals we've ever given up in a Labor Day tournament. We're just not developing plays at midfield."

"Our defense did a good job against a powerful offense," added assistant coach Ron Moore. He noted that Richard Cayonne, Mike Jennings and Fode Diallo turned in especially strong performances in support of Garcia.

The game capped a three-team tournament hosted by GPC over the holiday weekend. Tyler (4-1) defeated Louisburg 5-0 Sunday at the Dunwoody Campus, and on Saturday the Jaguars managed a 1-0 victory over Louisburg (2-2). GPC's coaches agreed it was a good weekend of soccer against the No. 8 and No. 9 teams in the country.

"We're not where we should be in November, but this is September," Zagara said.

The Jaguars were scheduled to play their third game in four days on Tuesday against Georgia Military College in Milledgeville, but the game was postponed because of a player shortage for GMC. Instead, GPC hits the road for the first time Saturday against Andrew College in Cuthbert, Ga.

The Jaguars' home soccer games are played at GPC's Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

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August 30, 2008

GPC shuts out No. 8 Louisburg

The Georgia Perimeter College Jaguars opened their holiday invitational tournament with a second shutout victory in as many games, but it was another nervous day for the GPC men's soccer team. The Jaguars hung on against Louisburg (N.C.) 1-0 Saturday on the Dunwoody Campus, pushing their record to 2-0 despite a pair of tepid offensive performances.

Ranked No. 2 in the National Junior College Athletic Association preseason poll, GPC got the only goal it needed from freshman striker Flavio Souza. Bediako Swan assisted with a pass toward the top of the box to Souza, who bent a shot past the Louisburg goalkeeper and into the net during the 37th minute.

It was one of only six shots for the Jaguars, same as the visitors launched. GPC goalkeeper Jonathan Foley accumulated five saves for his second shutout.

"Louisburg was a physical team. It was a team effort that won it for us," said GPC head coach Marc Zagara. The Hurricanes (2-1) came into the tournament ranked No. 8 in the NJCAA poll.

The home team benefited from a stout defense. Among others, Moore noted the effort by midfielder Mike Jennings, who was shifted to the back line this season. The Jaguars needed it, given their string of failed scoring chances in the first half.

GPC completes its holiday tournament with a noon kickoff at home on Labor Day against Tyler (Tex.) Junior College. The Apaches are ranked ninth in the NJCAA poll.

The Jaguars' home soccer games are played at GPC's Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

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August 23, 2008

Jaguars slip by South Georgia in opener

A halftime wakeup call roused the slow-starting Georgia Perimeter College men's soccer team, which downed South Georgia College 2-0 Saturday in its season opener at GPC's Dunwoody Campus.

The Jaguars (1-0), ranked second in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll, fired only two shots at the Tigers in the first half. Meanwhile, GPC's defense similarly stifled South Georgia (0-1) until the Tigers managed the first shot nineteen minutes into the game.

Georgia Perimeter began to gel after the break, finally striking in the 23rd minute on a goal by freshman forward Flavia Souza with an assist from freshman Julio Anzueto. Then two of the three sophomores in the lineup teamed up in the 58th minute, Mike Mecerod feeding Bediako Swan for a two-goal cushion.

The Jaguars were outshot 9-6 as freshman goalkeeper Jonathan Foley fended off four of the Tigers' attempts.

"We didn't look very good," said GPC head coach Marc Zagara. "We looked better in the second half, but we weren't good."

Assistant coach Ron Moore added, "We won, but we've got a lot of work to do."

The rough start could be expected after a roster turnover that has resulted in eight freshman starters. In addition, the Jaguars employed seven freshmen among the eight reserves Saturday.

GPC's defense is coping with the loss of last year's All-America goalkeeper Jon Selkow, and Lance DaCosta, an All-America sweeper who returned home to Jamaica for family reasons after completing summer courses. The good news is that the defense stopped South Georgia's midfielder Sean Howe, an impressive import from Great Britain, and forward David Hunter, the Tigers' second-leading scorer last season.

Both of Georgia Perimeter's soccer teams have a double date Tuesday at the Dunwoody Campus with Georgia Junior College Athletic Association foe Truett-McConnell College. The men's game begins at 3 p.m., followed by the women's game at 5 p.m.

The Jaguars' home soccer games are played at GPC's Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road in Dunwoody.

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August 22, 2008

Jaguars' goal: net national title

In 2004, the Georgia Perimeter College men's soccer team advanced to the program's first National Junior College Athletic Association title match, only to lose 3-1 against Mercer County (N.J.) Community College.

When the Jaguars returned to the nationals a year later, "There were no ifs, ands or buts with them," coach Marc Zagara recalls. "They were going to win it."

They did, beating Yavapai (Ariz.) College 3-1.

Zagara hopes for a repeat of history this season. The Jaguars fell to Yavapai in an excruciating 2007 championship game on penalty kicks following a 3-3 tie, dampening a dream season that ended at 21-1-2.

"It was a successful season," Zagara said of the 2007 national runner-up, his 16th team at GPC. "But there's no denying the disappointment in not finishing the deal."

The Jaguars can play "Let's Finish the Deal" this time, he believes, beginning with the opener Aug. 23 against South Georgia College on GPC's Dunwoody campus.

Validating those aspirations are plenty of returning Jaguars eager to purge the sour after-taste and a roster replenished with a gifted freshmen class.

"We're going to be more talented this year," Zagara says. "Whether they have the heart, the desire, of last year's team remains to be seen. Talent is 75 percent of the equation."

The '07 Jaguars were a dogged bunch with a barely penetrable defensive midfield, a superb goalkeeper and a focus that never wavered even as the squad became depleted by injuries.

Eight players, including all six active sophomores, earned scholarships from four-year schools, which is Zagara's annual measuring stick for success. Numerous contributors are back on board; they are supplemented by "one of our better recruiting classes, talent-wise."

There are some disappointments. All-America Sweeper Lance DaCosta of Jamaica most likely won't be aboard for personal reasons. The Jaguars' equally decorated goalkeeper, Jon Selkow, succumbed to academic ineligibility. Top assist producer Cesar Tejara will be redshirted.

The Jaguars limited foes to nine goals last year until the national semifinals, when their allotment jumped to 13 by season's end. The DaCosta/Selkow combo was most responsible for the stinginess.

But the Jaguars' two prolific scorers, strikers Mike Mecerod of Long Island, N.Y., and Bediako Swan of Grenada, are on hand to give it another go. Mecerod, a national All-Tournament Team selection, had 20 goals and 12 assists; Swan had 18 and seven.

Honorable Mention All-America midfielder Marcelo Aguirre, gone with his diploma, will be missed, but there's a bountiful crop of incoming replacements. The cast includes Eder Molina and Yeong Choi, leading a parade from the Miami area. They also can help fill the void left by the redshirting of Tejara.

In goal, quality gives way to quantity as Zagara fills Selkow's shoes with four new keepers, the most ever during his term. Two were recruited, the other pair sought an audition.

"We won't be as solid without Jon," Zagara says, "but all four are very good."

With three championship appearances in four years, GPC has become a go-to destination for graduating high school seniors. Zagara has mined South Florida for a while and has recently made inroads with prospects in fertile metro Atlanta.

The recruiting net was cast this year as far as Colorado, capturing goalkeeper Jonathan Foley. Now that the Jaguars have made four consecutive trips to the NJCAA tournament, the coach has gone from pounding on prospects' doors to being flooded with requests for a uniform and scholarship money.

The trend should continue as GPC received a No. 2 preseason NJCAA national ranking, behind defending champion Yavapai. To prepare for the postseason, Zagara has lined up a typically scary nonregion schedule that includes perennial powers Tyler Junior College (Texas), San Jacinto South (Texas) and Louisburg (N.C.).

As always, the modest team goal is a ticket to the eight-team nationals field. There, the Jaguars are assured attention from four-year colleges.

"It's great exposure for the kids," Zagara says. "If we win it, that's even better."

No ifs, ands or buts there.

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