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December 9, 2009

Cayonne and Morgan named to All-America team

Richard Cayonne

Richard Cayonne and Kingsley Morgan, standouts for the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team, recently were named to the All-America first team of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

Both players also earned first-team berths on the All-America squad selected annually by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Cayonne, a sophomore defender, and Morgan, a freshman midfielder, were major contributors during the Jaguars’ run to the NJCAA championship game. Georgia Perimeter finished with a a 22-2 record and a national runner-up trophy.

“I have always said individual awards usually go only to teams that have been very successful, and this is a reflection of that,” said GPC head coach Marc Zagara.

The combination of Morgan, Momodou Sanneh and Junior Sandoval—with Christian Ospina, Davian Davis, Alejandro Duque and Francisco Barbosa in relief—was perhaps the best midfield in junior college soccer.

“The award to Kingsley is a well deserved team honor reflecting how that group dominated virtually every game we played,” Zagara said.

Kingsley Morgan

Morgan scored 16 points on six goals and four assists. He started in all of the Jaguars’ 24 games and helped a diverse attack that resulted in an unusual number of players, 19, scoring goals.

Zagara noted that the strong midfield bolstered “one of the best defenses in the country. As a result we conceded the second or third fewest goals in the country.”

Cayonne, the team captain, anchored the left side of a defensive fortress that included freshmen Thierry Betole in the middle and Mohammed Issahaku on the right.

With the help of goalkeepers Jason Andrew and Brian Garcia, the defense gave up only 18 goals in 24 games, and only two goals in three games at the national tournament. The Jaguars posted 11 shutouts.

“Richard was a tenacious defender and an outstanding captain,” assistant coach Ron Moore said. “He never gave up, and his spirit was contagious. Kingsley and Richard both were leaders on and off the field.”

Both were named to the first team All-Region 17 first team (also known as the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association).

Only one other player from Region 17 made the NJCAA All-America list—high-scoring Sebastian Lara of Darton College received honorable mention.

Georgia Perimeter won the region tournament and Southeast District championship before falling in the NJCAA title match to Tyler College of Texas 1-0 (Tyler won on penalty kicks 5-3).

Cayonne received a full scholarship to play next year at Coastal Carolina University.

November 22, 2009

Déjà vu: GPC finishes second in nation

Penalty kick nightmares may haunt Marc Zagara and Nigel Lake.

Tyler College of Texas won the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 men’s soccer title with a victory over Georgia Perimeter College in a match decided by penalty kicks.

After regulation play and two 10-minute overtimes produced a scoreless tie, the Apaches made all five of their penalty kicks while the Jaguars made three of four. Freshman defender Martin Seiler nailed the deciding kick for Tyler.

The Jaguars (22-2) were making their sixth straight trip to the nationals, held this year in West Windsor, N.J. They won the championship in 2005 and now have three second-place finishes—2004, 2007 and 2009.

Sunday’s penalty-kick loss to Tyler (21-0) was déjà vu for Zagara, head coach of the Jaguars, and Lake, who played in the 2007 national championship game.

The Jaguars lost that game to Yavapai College (Ariz.) on penalty kicks, and Lake converted a penalty kick in that shootout.

This marks the fifth of six shootouts the Jaguars have lost at the national tournament.

Ninety minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods failed to produce a winner even though GPC had several good opportunities—and a couple of golden ones. The Jaguars launched 11 shots, seven of which were shots on goal.

“We had good chances. We just couldn’t finish it,” Zagara said.

GPC failed to score despite playing the final 8:49 of regulation and through the two 10-minute overtimes with a one-man advantage after Tyler midfielder Harry Machacha received his second yellow card, producing an automatic red card.

Fortunately, Georgia Perimeter’s defense was very stubborn in denying the Apaches access to scoring position and kept the Jaguars in the game. Tyler took only five shots on goal and got off two other shots.

GPC dominated the entire first half—and most of the second—keeping the ball mostly in their offensive end of the field. Early in the game the Jaguars muffed a two-on-one breakaway. A few minutes later a good opportunity sailed over the cross bar. Then a ball missed the left post by two feet.

But their biggest disappointment was to play more than 28 minutes, including the overtimes, with a man advantage and not win the game. It was a tribute to Tyler’s clinging defense.

Tyler revived its offensive attack in the second half, keeping control of the ball from the 62nd minute until the 72nd, when GPC finally kept the ball across the half line for more than a few seconds.

“They are a very good team—very disciplined,” Zagara said. “I think we are a better team, but we couldn’t convert the opportunities.”

If the overtimes have not broken a tie, NJCAA rules give each team five penalty shots. The Jaguars matched Tyler on the first two shots.

Junior Sandoval buried his shot into the left corner after the Apache’s Kyle Nicholls scored on GPC goalkeeper Jason Andrew. Then Dom Dwyer converted to give Tyler a 2-1 lead.

Alejandro Duque stepped up and repeated his move from Friday’s semifinal penalty kick victory over Schoolcraft College. He gently poked it into the left side after Tyler goalkeeper Juan Robles had committed to the right.

After Andy Brooks booted one in for Tyler, Rury Alvarez slammed it to the left, but Robles made a diving block to preserve the Apaches’ 3-2 advantage.

Defender Shaunovan Wilson converted to make it 4-2. That put the pressure on freshman midfielder Davian Davis—if he missed, the game was over.

Davis nailed the ball into the upper left corner, cutting the lead to 4-3.

That left one last chance for GPC. If Seiler missed, the Jaguars would have a final shot to tie it. But Seiler rose to the occasion and ended the day’s high drama, driving his penalty kick past Andrew into the upper right corner of the net.

Andrew and Alvarez were named to the All-Tournament team.

November 21, 2009

Nationals Notebook: It’s down to Hall of Famer vs. Hall of Famer

Notes from the 2009 National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 men’s soccer tournament in West Windsor, N.J.

Why West Windsor? A suburb of Trenton, it is the home of Mercer County Community College, the site of the tournament. Mercer County is a pretty campus with a seasoned tree canopy and a nice soccer stadium.

Georgia Perimeter College photographer Bill Roa rode the chartered bus with the men’s soccer team to Trenton, a 13-hour ride. They’re very polite and mature,” he says of the Jaguars.

Trenton appears to be especially hit by a declining economy—the downtown is very boarded up and far from thriving. The surviving businesses resemble sweet blossoms on dying vines.

Banners at the Marriott proclaim, “Free Wi-Fi in the lobby.” With several teams staying at the hotel, that meant that the lobby was perpetually dotted with student athletes glued to their laptops, some Facebooking, some with class papers sprawled about their tables.

Others spent mornings, afternoons and evenings playing soccer video games on the lobby’s mile-wide TV monitor. When the Jaguars left the TV, the Ocelots (Schoolcraft College) or the Apaches (Tyler College) took over the seats.

Breakfast occurred at Café Ole, a few doors away from the Marriott, a basic eggs and potatoes fare on paper plates. You can’t accuse Jaguar soccer of extravagance during an economic downturn.

Several hundred high school cheerleaders came into town for a competition, and many were staying at the Marriott. Not the ideal situation for staying focused on homework and the game plan.

Needless to say, there were winks and smiles from both genders, but the Jaguars are cool. They were relaxed, but in town on a serious business matter. Roa’s assessment is confirmed. These gentlemen are polite and mature, great ambassadors for GPC.

Members of the press box agreed that Georgia Perimeter’s games were the most interesting of the first two rounds—a 2-1 double overtime victory over Essex County College (N.J.) on Thursday and Friday’s double overtime/penalty kick victory over Schoolcraft College (Mich.).

Sheldon Palmer was an extremely dangerous threat for Essex. He is the 11th highest scorer in the nation and was quick with the feet. But the Wolverines didn’t support him with solid combinations. They constantly tried to boom the ball to give him a breakaway, and the GPC defense kept him contained.

The Essex fans were numerous and vocal. It gave their players the hometown advantage.

Virginia “Ginny” Zagara, Marc Zagara’s mother got to the stadium with her walker and sat in the front row of the bleachers, cheering through a megaphone, her usual routine at Jaguar home games. She and Laurie Moore and a few Jaguar parents were sorely outnumbered by the Essex crowd.

Friday morning, Mrs. Zagara complained to Roa that she didn’t have the drum that she pounds at Dunwoody games. She asked for a hammer to pound on the metal bleachers. Roa procured two wooden sticks for the cause.

The Jaguars were mighty banged up Friday. Essex County was a very physical team. That presents a challenge to the Jaguars, a team that lives on technique and finesse.

“It can have a long-term affect on a team at a tournament,” Zagara said of the aches and bruises inflicted by Essex.

And then Friday’s marathon match was physically draining. Though Schoolcraft College played a cleaner game they played a hard game.

Schoolcraft, like Essex, reacted to GPC’s powerful, balanced offense. Both Essex and Schoolcraft laid back on defense, which disrupted their offensive thrust.

This also relieved the forward pressure on the GPC defense, giving them time to methodically launch the attack.

The first half with Schoolcraft was such an intensive defensive battle that GPC got off no shots on goal—and few shots at all—and Schoolcraft had only two shots.

Two professors from Mercer County Community College broadcasted the Schoolcraft game Friday for local TV. Over the course of the broadcast, they became enamored with the Jaguars.

They remarked often about Junior Sandoval’s blue shoes and would say, “Blue Shoes brings it up the middle.” They made much of the Jaguars’ cranked-up intensity after Schoolcraft took a 1-0 lead. They loved how Juan Arbelaez moves the ball swiftly down the left side and sets up the offense.

Everybody remarks on GPC’s midfielders. They rock.

The penalty kicks ending the Schoolcraft game were sports high drama at its finest.

Jason Andrew shook hands with the first Schoolcraft shooter, Kenny Vasquez. Sportsmanship moves the soul.

Andrew’s four stops of excellent shots inspired awe—his long body thrown at the ball, fists/wrists punching it away.

Junior Sandoval took the first penalty kick for the Jaguars, facing the top goalkeeper in the nation, Ian McDonald-Wilkins. The goalie moved right and Sandoval hammered it into the left corner.

Alejandro Duque, taking the second shot for GPC, faked to the right and tapped a slow roller to the left. The ball meandered into the net like a baseball pitcher’s change-up. The crowd was stunned by the technique, not certain of what it had just witnessed. It was so unusual that it seemed to freeze McDonald-Wilkins.

Now, all GPC needed for victory was another goal in three tries. Would Juan Arbelaez win the game as he did against Essex? Not this time. His hard shot banged against the cross bar and bounced out.

Schoolcraft scored two PKs in a row, tying it 2-2. Either Kingsley Morgan or Rury Alvarez had to score for the Jaguars.

Morgan tossed back his long hair and boomed a great shot, but it hit the right post.

McDonald-Wilkins stopped Alvarez’ low hard kick.

So, the match went to the extra sixth penalty kick round. Andrew made one of his diving stops on the Schoolcraft kick.

The veteran Nigel Lake stepped up. He had scored the first penalty kick in 2007 when GPC lost the national championship to Yavapai College (Ariz.).

Lake calmly won the game with a hard kick to the lower left corner that eluded McDonald-Wilkins’ reach.

Georgia Perimeter is 5-0 this season in overtime games.

Wednesday was not only induction night for Marc Zagara into the NJCAA Hall of Fame—it also was his birthday. Saturday night after supper at TGIF, the Jaguars surprised him with a cake and an off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Zagara’s sister and brother-in-law were in attendance.

After the birthday celebration, some Jaguars watched two teams from Columbia playing a soccer match. A Columbian scored a long, hard shot, and Alvarez went into his celebration routine, dancing around the room.

Cheikh Mbaye sat at a corner table, typing a research paper for Mr. Rogers’ English 1102 at Dunwoody—and watching the game. Thierry Betole was at another, working on an assignment for economics class—taught by Zagara.

Junior Sandoval’s assessment of the first two games, both overtimes: “We were not playing our game, we didn’t create enough opportunities. We have to start hard to take care of the game and be the No. 1 team.”

Mbaye on the teams in the tournament: “The defenses here are tougher than we’ve been playing. Tyler’s a great team, so we need to play as a team.”

Betole, also on the other teams: “It’s totally different. They’re bigger and faster than teams we’ve been playing.”

Betole, on success as a defender: “I’m always prepared. When you win the ball in the air or with the feet, you gain confidence. Confidence is the key.”

It comes down to this Sunday: No. 1 in the nation vs. No. 2.

Tyler College, undefeated at 20-0 and ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA national poll, meets No. 2 Georgia Perimeter College (22-1).

Both teams have endless depth and substitute freely. Both have balanced scoring. Both have terrific defenses. Both defeated Louisburg, GPC by a 4-1 score, Tyler by 3-1.

Both head coaches, Zagara and Steve Clements, were inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame Wednesday at the annual association banquet on the Mercer County campus.

What a story. What a game this is going to be. It doesn’t get any better than this.

November 20, 2009

Jaguars claw way to title game

Nigel Lake shot an overtime penalty kick in the national championship game in 2007, when Yavapai College defeated his team on penalty kicks to take away the trophy.

Jason Andrew stops a penalty kick.

Friday, Lake propelled himself and the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team back into the National Junior College championship game with a penalty kick.

After two 10-minute overtimes and after goalkeeper Jason Andrew stopped four of six penalty kicks, the Jaguars won a marathon 1-1 victory (3-2 on penalty kicks) over Schoolcraft College in the NJCAA semifinals.

GPC (22-1) advances to Sunday’s 2 p.m. national championship game against Tyler (Texas) College. Tyler, undefeated (20-0) and ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA national poll, defeated Louisburg (N.C.) 2-0 in the earlier semifinal Friday.

“It’s the first shootout we ever won in tournament play—we’ve lost four,” said GPC head coach Marc Zagara. “It’s a horrible way for Schoolcraft to end the season, and I know that feeling.”

With the score 1-1 after regulation time and the overtimes, GPC faced the formidable task of scoring penalty kicks against the nation’s number one-ranked goalkeeper, Ian McDonald-Wilkins. Coming into the tourney, McDonald-Wilkins had a 0.45 goals-against average, allowing only seven goals all season.

Each team is allowed five penalty kicks in an NJCAA shootout. Andrew expertly knocked away Schoolcraft’s first two shots with dives, while GPC took a 2-0 lead on kicks by Junior Sandoval and Alejandro Duque.

Schoolcraft (17-2-2) rallied to tie it with kicks by Bim Ogunyemi and Ognen Stemenkovic.

On the extra sixth kicks, Andrew stopped Ya Ya Toure’s shot, and then Lake slammed the game-winner into the bottom left corner past the diving McDonald-Wilkins.

“My approach was to stay confident and take the shot,” Lake said, “and get my teammates into the championship game.”

The first half featured a classic defensive stalemate, with neither squad getting a good look at the goal. Schoolcraft took numerous free kicks and corner kicks, and GPC’s defense denied them.

At one point Jaguar defender Thierry Betole headed the ball out of crowds three times in a three-minute period.

Late in the first half, the Jaguars seized the momentum and never relinquished it, keeping the ball mostly in their offensive end, knocking on the door.

Only 39 seconds into the second half, Schoolcraft’s Dane Laird poked the ball through a pile-up a few feet in front of the left post and found a hole for the first score of the game.

But in the 72nd minute, Rury Alvarez boomed one from 35 yards out and got it past McDonald-Wilkins to tie the game 1-1.

Although GPC dominated the two overtimes, the Jaguars couldn’t convert several opportunities. With five minutes in the second overtime, Schoolcraft fell to 10 players on a red card, but GPC still couldn’t capitalize on the one-player advantage.

Georgia Perimeter entered the tournament ranked No. 2 in the nation, while Schoolcraft was No. 3.

Tyler College beat Louisburg College 3-1 in its semifinal Friday. The Apaches beat Georgia Perimeter in 2008 on the Jaguars’ home field.

In the loser’s bracket, Yavapai College (Ariz.) defeated Iowa Central Community College 2-0, and Essex County College (N.J.) nipped Barton County Community College (Kan.) 2-1 on penalty kicks. Yavapai and Essex County will play Sunday at 11 p.m. for third and fourth place.

November 19, 2009

Jaguars advance to Final Four

Juan Arbelaez scored the game-winning goal in the second overtime as Georgia Perimeter College beat Essex County College (N.J.) 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA national tournament in West Windsor, N.J.

Juan Arbelaez, right, celebrates the game-winner with Kingsley Morgan.

With the victory, GPC advances to Friday’s semifinal round, playing Schoolcraft College (Mich.), which defeated Barton County Community College (Kan.) 2-0 in Thursday’s nightcap.

One minute and 26 seconds into the second 10-minute overtime, Arbelaez beat Essex goalkeeper Marco Ortiz to a long pass to the right of the goal and sent an open shot into the left corner of the net.

Georgia Perimeter (21-1) dominated much of the game, taking 16 shots on goal. Ortiz made numerous splendid saves to keep the Wolverines in the game.

“They played a very physical game,” said head coach Marc Zagara. “It kept them in the game.”

Georgia Perimeter’s defensive line—Thierry Betole, Richard Cayonne and Mohammed Issahaku— allowed only four shots on goal. They nearly shut down the Wolverine’s lightning-quick forwards, Sheldon Palmer and Herve Valcourt.

But after a tight struggle through most of the first half, Palmer drew the first blood with 13:30 on the clock, driving a hard shot on a breakaway from the right side into the left net that GPC goalie Jason Andrew barely missed with an outstretched hand.

Arbaelez tied the game by forcing an own goal on Essex County (15-3-2) late in the first half, hammering a shot from the right side that hit a defender’s foot and bounced over Ortiz’ head into the goal.

Schoolcraft College came into the tournament ranked No. 3, right behind GPC.

In the opening quarterfinal game, No. 1 Tyler College defeated Iowa Community College 5-1. Louisburg College downed Yavapai College 3-1 in the second game.

November 19, 2009

GPC’s Zagara inducted to soccer Hall of Fame

When Marc Zagara coached his inaugural season of men’s soccer at Georgia Perimeter College 18 years ago, could he have dreamed of the success he would achieve over the next two decades?

Marc Zagara was inducted into the Hall of Fame Wednesday.

As his team rested for a first-round national tournament match, Zagara was inducted Wednesday to the National Junior College Athletic Association Soccer Hall of Fame.

The ceremony took place at the site of the NJCAA national tournament, Mercer County Community College in West Windsor, N.J., near Trenton. Zagara was recognized, at the annual NJCAA banquet on the Mercer County Campus, for his outstanding lifetime record (372-148-19) and especially for his phenomenal 18 years at Georgia Perimeter.

He has built a regional and national dynasty at Georgia Perimeter, known as DeKalb College during his early years at the school. He boasts a stellar 297-73-13 record at GPC. The lifetime record includes seven years as head coach at Finger Lakes Community College in New York.

In three of the past five national NJCAA tournaments, Georgia Perimeter has played in the championship game, winning the national championship in 2005 with a 20-2-1 record.

The Jaguars took the runner-up title in 2004 and 2007, finished in fifth place in 2006 and tied for fifth last year. Regularly ranked in the top 10 nationally, the Jaguars have made the elite eight in nine of the past 14 years.

Zagara’s teams have won the NJCAA Region 17 championship in 13 of his 18 seasons at GPC. He has coached 29 All-Americans, and 12 players have gone on to play professional soccer.

The Jaguars enter this year’s elite eight national tournament ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA poll with a 20-1 record. They play Essex County (N.J.) College in a first round match Thursday at 2:30 p.m.

An associate professor, Zagara teaches economics at GPC’s Dunwoody campus, where the men’s soccer stadium is located.

Joining him in the Hall of Fame induction was Steve Clements of Tyler Junior College, which enters the national tournament undefeated (20-0) and ranked No. 1. The duo also will be inducted later this month in a ceremony at a separate NJCAA banquet in Herkimer, N.Y.

November 18, 2009

Jaguars aim for national title

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer Jaguars rolled into Trenton, N.J. Wednesday with a 20-1 record, a No. 2 ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll and an awareness that the real season is just beginning.

“Everything else just leads up to this,” said head coach Marc Zagara, who Wednesday evening was inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame. “This is what all the work was about back in August.”

The goal in the heat of August is the goal in the cool of November: to win the NJCAA national tournament being held Thursday through Sunday in West Windsor, N.J., on the turf of Mercer County Community College.

GPC meets No. 8 ranked Essex County College in a first round game Thursday at 2:30 p.m. Essex, a New Jersey school, will almost have home-field advantage. They’ve played Mercer County twice this season.

The Wolverines (15-2-2) lost to Mercer County 3-0 during the regular season, and then upset the then-ranked No. 3 Vikings 1-0 to win the Region 19 championship.

Coached by Hugo Pierre, Essex County features a one-two, with the 10th and 11th top scorers in the nation. Tenth-ranked Herve Valcourt, a midfielder, has 47 points on 18 goals and 11 assists, while forward Sheldon Palmer has 17 goals and 11 assists for 45 points.

Goalkeeper Marco Ortiz ranks 23rd in the NJCAA with a 0.90 goals against average. He’s allowed 16 goals out of 126 shots on goal.

Georgia Perimeter features a dangerous and balanced offense—19 players have scored goals. Leading the pack is Junior Sandoval with 29 points from nine goals and 11 assists.

Alejandro Duque has posted 24 points (seven goals, 10 assists), followed by Flavio Souza (22 points, eight goals, six assists), Juan Arbelaez (six goals, nine assists) and Cheikh Mbaye (nine goals, two assists).

The Jaguars’ midfield and defense has been outstanding all season, and the goalkeeping duo represent the nation’s No. 16 Jason Andrews and No. 17 Brian Garcia keepers. Andrews sports a 0.75 goals against average (47 saves on 55 shots on goal) and Garcia is at 0.76 (63 saves, 71 shots). They and the defense have allowed 16 goals and have posted 10 shutouts.

If the Jaguars win Thursday, they will play Friday at 5 p.m. against the winner of the Schoolcraft College-Barton Community College first-round nightcap. If they lose to Essex, they meet the Schoolcraft-Barton loser on Friday at noon.

One promising indicator—GPC defeated Mercer County 6-1 in September, while Essex County split with the Vikings.

“We’ll be competitive if the guys stick to business and do their jobs,” Zagara said.

He should know the formula—his record at GPC is 297-73-13, and his teams have gone to nationals in nine of the last 14 years, winning the national championship in 2005 and finishing second in 2004 and 2007.

November 16, 2009

Eight Jaguars make All-Region

Richard Cayonne

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team placed eight players on the National Junior College Athletic Association All-Region 17 team.

Named to the first team were sophomore defender Richard Cayonne and two freshmen midfielders, Junior Sandoval and Kingsley Morgan.

Sophomore goalkeeper Brian Garcia made the second team, along with striker Boubacar Toure and defender Thierry Betole, both freshmen.

Two sophomores received honorable mention, striker Flavio Souza and midfielder Nigel Lake.

Junior Sandoval

Region 17 (also known as the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association) consists of two-year institutions in Georgia with men’s soccer teams: Andrew College, Gordon College, Darton College, South Georgia College, Young Harris College, Georgia Military College and Middle Georgia College.

Toure, who missed nine games with an injury, is ranked No. 34 in scoring in the nation with 15 goals and nine assists for 39 points.

Garcia is ranked No. 17 among the nation’s junior college goalkeepers. Playing 13 games in the net, he has posted a 0.76 goals against average, with 63 saves of 71 shots on goal.

Kingsley Morgan

GPC dominated at midfield all season, led by Sandoval, Morgan and Lake. The midfielders and Souza were keys to a diverse attack that resulted in an unusual number of players scoring goals.

Georgia Perimeter (20-1) won the region tournament and Southeast District championship and will be playing in the NJCAA national tournament this weekend near Trenton, N.J. The Jaguars meet Essex County (N.J.) College.

November 7, 2009

Jaguars head back to nationals

Even as the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team was wrapping up yet another berth in the national tournament, the buzz was beginning: Can these Jaguars bring home another title?

Cheikh Mbaye scores to make it 2-0.

Ranked No. 2 in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll, they like their chances.

“We definitely can contend,” said sophomore midfielder Nigel Lake, who scored a goal in the Jaguars’ 5-0 victory over Wallace State Community College of Hanceville, Ala., in the Southeastern District championship game on a sunny, drama-free afternoon at the Dunwoody Campus.

“We have the talent,” said Lake, who played on the 2007 team that finished second in the nation but was redshirted last season because of an injury.

Team chemistry? “On the field, off the field, we are one.”

The Jaguars (20-1), champions of Region 17, will make their sixth consecutive trip to the nationals, Nov. 19-22 in West Windsor, N.J. To head coach Mark Zagara, just rubbing elbows with the best is a bigger deal than potential hardware to be won. The Jaguars were national champs in 2005.

The Jagaurs celebrate GPC’s sixth straight district championship.

“The kids will be seen by scouts and get offers,” he said. “They will make 10 times as much in scholarship funds as the cost of the trip. It’s a big thing for me to be a part of that. We’ve got only four sophomores, but the freshmen will get early notice.”

The victory over Wallace State (10-6-1), champion of Region 22, wasn’t in doubt after halftime, when GPC led 3-0. The Lions spent the final 45 minutes in damage-control mode, leaving little energy for offense as the Jaguars’ trademark depth asserted itself more by the minute. They finished with just two shots on goal to GPC’s 23.

GPC went ahead 1-0 with 29:18 remaining in the first half on a point-blank header by Junior Sandoval on a crossing pass from Boubacar Toure. With 12:51 remaining in the half, Cheikh Mbaye made it 2-0 with an assist from Francisco Barbella. The third goal came after a corner kick by Qassimlu Hamad. After the ball touched Toure, Davian Davis rammed it home.

Thirty seconds after halftime, Toure headed a ball into the crossbar, one of several GPC shots that came within an eyelash of going in.

The fourth goal came with 37:54 remaining, by Lake on an assist from Juan Arbelaez. Rury Alvarez produced the final score on a 20-yard free kick with 11:35 remaining.

Soon after, the Jaguars were celebrating with their trophy, presented by school President Dr. Anthony S. Tricoli, and making travel plans.

“We’ve got a better chance than most,” said Zagara. “We certainly have a better chance than the 200 teams who aren’t playing.” Zagara, whose 18-year record at GPC is 297-71-13, will be inducted into the NJCAA Hall of Fame at the national tournament.

November 1, 2009

Jaguars win sixth straight region title

After a bumpy start, the road to the national men’s soccer tournament got smoother Sunday for Georgia Perimeter College.

The Jaguars (19-1), No. 2 in the NJCAA ratings, notched their sixth straight Region 17 playoff title by downing Young Harris College 4-1 in Albany.

The Jaguars display their trophy.

The win sends GPC, which survived an overtime scare Saturday against Darton, to the NJCAA Southeast District round next Saturday. The Jaguars will play host to Wallace State Community College (Ala.), with the winner heading to the nationals Nov. 19-22 in Trenton, N.J.

Young Harris (14-5), ranked 14th, extended the Jaguars into overtime but lost 2-1 during their regular season encounter on Oct. 6. On Oct. 20 Georgia Perimeter slipped by the Mountain Lions 1-0.

GPC had an easier time Sunday in what has become standard fashion: the opponent hangs tough through the first half, then gets overwhelmed by the Jaguars’ depth in the second.

Boubacar Toure, whose goal in the extra period saved GPC against Darton, tallied twice more Sunday.

Boubacar Toure scores one of his two goals.

Three minutes into the second half, he put the Jaguars up 2-0 by eluding only the goalkeeper after assist man Flavio Souza avoided a trap just outside the box and delivered the ball between two defenders.

Toure’s next goal, with seven minutes left, almost immediately answered Young Harris’ lone score. The assist went to Javion Green.

Richard Cayonne accounted for the only goal in the first half when he sent a blast into the box and it bounced past the Lions’ goalkeeper and into the net.

GPC’s third goal was claimed by Rury Alvarez on a low, hard shot from 25 yards out. Cheikh Mbaye was credited with an assist.

The Jaguars held a 15-9 advantage on shots, with GPC keeper Jason Andrew making six saves.

Saturday’s district championship game with Wallace State (10-5-1) will begin at 1 p.m.

October 31, 2009

GPC advances with overtime thriller

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team avenged its only defeat of the season and moved one step closer to returning to the national championships with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory Saturday over host Darton College in Albany.

Boubacar Toure scored the game-winner.

The Jaguars (18-1), which fell to their current No. 2 standing in the NJCAA polls after a 4-2 defeat to Darton three weeks ago, advanced to Sunday’s championship match of the Region 17 tournament. They will play the survivor of the late Saturday match between Middle Georgia College (14-4) and 14th-ranked Young Harris College (13-4).

Freshman striker Boubacar Toure, who played a role in GPC’s first goal, delivered the game-winner with about three minutes left in the first extra period.

The sequence began when Alejandro Duque sent a long pass to Nigel Lake. He deposited the ball into the box for Toure, who caught it, turned and blasted it in from a difficult angle.

Toure was about to score the Jaguars’ first goal with 31 minutes remaining in regulation when he was tackled in the box, drawing a penalty. Duque took the PK, leveling the score at 1-1.

The Jaguars celebrate the victory.

Darton’s lone goal was scored just minutes into the match. The Cavaliers (12-4-1) were limited to five shots as goalkeeper Jason Andrew turned away four of them. The Jaguars aimed 17 shots at the Darton keeper.

GPC has struggled all season against Darton, having won 2-1 at home. The Cavaliers were again competitive until the Jaguars’ depth wore them down.

Darton could not muster up a single shot on goal after halftime. GPC’s back line, led by Richard Cayonne and Thierry Betole, held down the fort until the offense could generate enough goals for the win.

It represents the third overtime victory of the season for the Jaguars, with the other two coming against the remaining two teams in the tournament. GPC beat Young Harris 2-1 in OT early in October and a week later took Middle Georgia 3-2. In all three matches, the winning goal has come in the first overtime period.

The Jaguars have won the region tournament five consecutive seasons and in 12 of the past 16 years.

October 30, 2009

Trademark depth to be tested in Albany

For years a hallmark of Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer has been its overpowering depth. This year’s team, boasting a 17-1 record and a No. 2-ranking among the nation’s NJCAA teams, has been no exception. In fact, it may have raised the bar.

“We have two full squads of good players,” says assistant coach Ron Moore, in his 16th season in that capacity. “We play two teams consistently during the game.”

The formula, so carefully crafted by head coach and Hall-of-Fame inductee Marc Zagara, faces a challenge this weekend. The Jaguars enter the Region 17 semifinals Saturday with many starters injured and playing the team that delivered their one defeat, Darton College.

Two weeks ago the Cavaliers (12-3-1) beat then-No. 1 Georgia Perimeter 4-2 on the very field where the region tournament will be played, in Albany on Darton’s campus.

The bad news is Junior Sandoval, a dangerous playmaker and striker, may be out with an injured foot; Aziz Izmour has been sidelined; striker Rury Alvarez is nursing a pulled hamstring. Boubacar Toure, a recent steady scorer; Thierry Betole, a leading defender—it’s an All-Region bench party.

The good news is the available players—starters and second stringers—have been nothing short of phenomenal.

Defender Richard Cayonne represents a potential All-America defender, and he was sitting out with card issues during the loss to Darton. Momodou Sanneh is a major contributor to the defensive wall, and Kingsley Morgan is a force at both ends of the field. The defense has allowed only 14 goals, and some of the credit goes to stingy goalkeepers Jason Andrew and Brian Garcia.

Scoring has come from nearly every player, so balanced is the attack. The likes of Juan Arbelaez, Flavio Souza, Cheikh Mbaye, Qassimlu Hamad, Alejandro Duque, Nigel Lake and numerous others have full potential to turn the tables on the host team.

Not many teams produce three NJCAA players of the week as have the Jaguars this season—Garcia, Duque and Toure.

What will be the deciding factor, the missing starters or the incredible depth? One thing is certain—it will be an interesting weekend for Jaguar soccer.

Tournament schedule (all games at Darton College in Albany): Semifinals, Saturday, 6 p.m., No. 2 GPC vs. Darton College; Saturday, 8:30 p.m., No. 14 Young Harris (13-4) vs. Middle Georgia College (14-4); Championship Game, Sunday, 3 p.m.

October 24, 2009

Second half goals bring 17th win

Kingsley Morgan scored the game-winning goal as the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team closed its regular season with a 3-1 victory over Andrew College Saturday at the Dunwoody Campus.

Juan Arbelaez takes a shot during the Jaguars’ 3-1 victory.

Andrew had fought the nation’s No. 2 junior college team to a first-half 1-1 draw, but Morgan’s 30-yard blast into the upper right corner of the goal turned the tide.

As winner of the North Sub-Region of NJCAA Region 17, GPC (17-1, 10-0) most likely will play Darton College next Saturday at the region tournament in Albany. The Jaguars enter the four-team tourney as the No. 1 seed.

With injuries and numerous regulars benched with card issues, GPC coach Marc Zagara had only 13 Jaguars in the rotation. A sluggish first half resulted.

But at 18:02 Momodou Sanneh scored with an assist by Qassimlu Hamad to give Georgia Perimeter a 1-0 lead.

The Fighting Tigers (5-8-1, 2-7) came back with 4:56 remaining in the half to tie it when Christopher Grainger took a pass from Gilmer Medina and shot from 8 yards out. Goalkeeper Brian Garcia got a hand on the ball, but it wandered into the goal.

In the second half, Morgan scored the game-winner with 17:32 left on the clock. Juan Arbelaez was credited with an assist.

Little more than three minutes later, Cheikh Mbaye tallied an insurance goal inside the box with an assist from Flavio Souza to make it 3-1.

Georgia Perimeter took 23 shots on goal, while Andrew sent only two shots at Garcia, who saved one.

The Jaguars’ tournament semifinal next Saturday will begin at 6 p.m. The other two teams in the tourney will be Young Harris College and Middle Georgia College.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

October 21, 2009

Former Jaguar named to Guyana national team

Former Georgia Perimeter College goalkeeper Roland Day recently was tapped by the Guyana Football Federation to serve on the Guyana national team.

The national team is training for the Suriname Independence Four-Nations Tournament.

“This is a great opportunity for Roland and I am confident he will make the most of it,” said GPC head coach Marc Zagara.

Day played on the Jaguar men’s soccer team when they won the 2005 NJCAA national championship.

October 20, 2009

Mbaye’s goal enough to win

One goal by Cheikh Mbaye was all the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team needed Tuesday. Now the Jaguars, ranked No. 1 among two-year colleges, are closer to their goal of reaching the NJCAA tournament.

Road-weary GPC fended off Young Harris College 1-0, and the Jaguars rinsed out the bitter taste of their first loss this season, a 4-2 stumble Saturday at Darton College. That loss likely will cost the Jaguars’ their top ranking when Wednesday’s poll comes out.

But the Jaguars (16-1, 9-0) have clinched the North Sub-Region of the Georgia Junior College Athletics Association and will be rewarded with a first-round bye in the playoffs that begin next week.

Tuesday’s match was rescheduled from Sept. 22, which was postponed because of inclement weather.

Mbaye scored the lone goal a half-hour into the game. Defender Richard Cayonne passed to him from midfield, and he struck a knuckler from at least 25 yards out past the Mountain Lions goalkeeper.

GPC keepers Jason Andrew and Brian Garcia each played one half and combined for 10 saves on 12 shots by Young Harris (11-4, 6-3).

Georgia Perimeter’s defense was bolstered by Mohammed Issahaku, who was moved to the back line from his normal position of striker because of injuries to teammates.

The Jaguars, who beat Young Harris 2-1 in overtime two weeks earlier, completed a string of four straight away matches and will conclude their regular season against Region 17 foe Andrew College at 2 p.m. Saturday on the Dunwoody Campus.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

October 17, 2009

Darton snaps 16 game streak

A recent nemesis knocked off Georgia Perimeter College on Saturday, bumping the Jaguars from the unbeaten ranks of men’s soccer and likely from the top rung of the national rankings.

Darton College won 4-2 in Albany on a cold, windy day. The Cavaliers (11-2-1) had given GPC a scare last month, losing 2-1 on the Dunwoody campus, and beat the Jaguars last season.

The Jaguars (15-1), rated first in the NJCAA poll, suffered their first defeat in 16 games. One blessing: Though Darton is a fellow Region 17 member, it was a non-conference match, which leaves GPC 8-0 in the GJCAA.

The Jaguars jumped ahead 2-0 when Junior Sandoval passed to Boubacar Toure for a goal and Nigel Lake scored off of a corner kick started by Juan Arbelaez. Sandoval also earned an assist.

But the Cavaliers, initiating their offense with long balls, closed to within 2-1 at halftime, then equalized on a goal via corner kick.

GPC began to push forward in search of a go-ahead score, but Darton counterattacked with a pair of goals. The Cavaliers also missed a penalty kick.

The Jaguars sorely missed two defenders, Richard Cayonne (suspended because of yellow cards in a previous match) and Javion Green (injury). Goalkeeper Jason Andrew, rusty after a two-game layoff because of a red-card suspension, allowed all four goals, though he took on a hefty 20 shots.

GPC concludes a four-game road stretch Tuesday at Young Harris College.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

October 13, 2009

Jaguars repeat OT wizardry

Georgia Perimeter College, the nation’s top-ranked men’s soccer team, survived a pre-Halloween scare Tuesday, outlasting Middle Georgia College 3-2 in overtime.

Juan Arbelaez, on assists from Junior Sandoval and Mohammed Issahaku, scored the “golden goal” with 3 1/2 minutes gone in the extra period.

Juan Arbelaez scored the game-winner in overtime.

It was déjà vu for the Jaguars, who defeated Young Harris College a week earlier 2-1 in overtime with a goal by Rury Alvarez at nearly the same time in the extra period.

The Warriors, leaders of Region 17’s south division, figured to pose a challenge on their home field in Cochran. They raised the intensity level to the point that the referee had to issue about 20 cards for infractions, including three reds. One went to GPC’s ace defender, Richard Cayonne, who must sit out one game.

Sandoval scored late in the first half for north division leader GPC (15-0, 8-0) with help from just-named NJCAA Player of the Week Boubacar Toure, and it was tied 1-1 at intermission.

Toure sent the Jaguars ahead 2 1/2 minutes into the second period, with assists from Cayonne and Arbelaez. The Warriors (11-3, 5-1) equalized to force the match into overtime, but Arbelaez finished it quickly with the game-winner.

The Jaguars could only muster three goals on 20 shots, compared to 13 shots for Middle Georgia. GPC’s Brian Garcia saved eight as regular keeper Jason Andrew completed his two-game suspension for a red card violation.

GPC heads to Albany on Saturday for a match with Darton College (9-2-1, 5-2-1). The Jaguars defeated Darton 2-1 in September. Then they remain on the road for an Oct. 20 rematch at Young Harris.

The final regular-season home game is on Oct. 24 versus Andrew College at 2 p.m.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

October 10, 2009

Toure delivers tour de force

Boubacar Toure equaled a school record with four goals, which accounted for all of Georgia Perimeter College’s scoring in a 4-2 men’s soccer defeat over South Georgia College on Saturday.

Boubacar Toure scored four goals in the second half.

Toure, a freshman striker from Gambia, kick-started the languid GPC offense in Douglas with a goal just 25 seconds into the second half, tying the match 1-1.

He struck again 15 minutes later. After the Tigers (6-5-1, 3-5-1) drew even at 2-2, Toure tallied with 17 minutes left, then again with 13 minutes on the clock.

Freshman midfielder Junior Sandoval assisted on Toure’s first three goals, Momodou Sanneh on the finale.

Toure had a two-goal game last month, but his main offensive contributions had been on assists. On one goal Saturday, he faked out the Tigers goalkeeper and had a clear path to the net.

It was a challenging week on the field for GPC (14-0), ranked No. 1 in the NJCAA poll. The Jaguars eked out a 2-1 overtime win at home Tuesday over Young Harris College.

GPC keeper Brian Garcia staved off eight South Georgia shots. He stood in for Jason Andrew, who had to sit out because of a red-card ejection against Young Harris.

The Jaguars remain on the road with a Tuesday encounter against Middle Georgia College in Cochran.

The next home match is with Andrew College on Oct. 24 at 2 p.m.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

October 6, 2009

Alvarez, Sandoval pull one out

With only seven minutes left on the clock, Young Harris College led undefeated, No. 1 Georgia Perimeter College by a goal. The Mountain Lions were sniffing a major upset in the Region 17 showdown.

Rury Alvarez’ winning shot gets past YHC goalkeeper Wezley Barnard.

But freshmen Junior Sandoval and Rury Alvarez weren’t ready to relinquish Georgia Perimeter’s unblemished season. The result: the match ended with the Jaguars on top 2-1 Tuesday at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus.

Sandoval drew a penalty in the box with 6:13 remaining, which also resulted in a red card and ejection for a key Young Harris defender, Felix Reich. Taking a direct kick on the Lions’ goalkeeper, Sandoval hammered it home to tie it up.

At the buzzer GPC defender Richard Cayonne headed off a corner kick to send the game into sudden-death overtime.

In the third minute of the extra period, Alvarez broke away from defenders near midfield, drew the keeper out and blasted a 20-foot game-winner into the goal.

With the slim victory, Georgia Perimeter improves to 13-0, 7-0 in Region 17 of the National Junior College Athletic Association. Young Harris drops to 9-3, 5-2, two games behind the Jaguars in the North Sub-Region.

Although GPC dominated much of the game, Young Harris perhaps gave the Jaguars their stiffest challenge of the season.

“They wanted it—they came out and played hard,” said GPC head coach Marc Zagara. “But unfortunately for them, they didn’t finish on their penalty kicks, and we were lucky.”

In the first half, the Lions missed a direct kick that Jaguar goalkeeper Jason Andrew saved. The teams battled to a scoreless tie at the break.

Eighteen seconds into the second half, Andrew drew a red card for knocking down Young Harris forward Sam Walker in the box. But Walker sailed his direct kick wide right on substitute keeper Brian Garcia.

Playing a man short for most of the half, GPC’s defense held on until 8:49 remained. That’s when Young Harris’ Adrian Klammer scored on an assist from Pedro Almazan.

But the visitors enjoyed a short-lived 1-0 edge, as Sandoval scored little more than two minutes later. Georgia Perimeter finished the game with 9 players, against the Lions’ 10, because Qassimlu Hamad also drew a red card and went to the bench.

GPC sent 19 shots on goal at the Lions, while the visitors launched seven. Andrew made two saves and Garcia had four.

The teams will get a grudge match on Oct. 20, when the Jaguars travel to Young Harris for another sub-region showdown.

Saturday GPC hits the road to Douglas for its second meeting with South Georgia College (6-4-1, 3-4-1). The Jaguars beat South Georgia 5-0 early in September.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

October 1, 2009

GPC downs Georgia Military

Georgia Perimeter College defeated Georgia Military College 10-0 in a region match Thursday at the Dunwoody Campus.

The Jaguars repeated their pattern of using balanced scoring and strong defense to improve their record to 12-0 overall and 6-0 in Region 17 of the NJCAA.

GPC fired 23 shots on goal, while the defense limited the Bulldogs to four shots, all saved by goalkeeper Jason Andrew. It is Andrew’s fourth shutout of the season.

“We continue to improve as a team,” said assistant coach Ron Moore. “Our defense and goalkeepers continue to play outstanding soccer.”

Assisted by Aziz Izmour, Boubacar Toure drew the first goal three minutes into the game. Three minutes later Juan Arbelaez scored on a pass from Junior Sandoval.

Georgia Perimeter proceeded to an 8-0 halftime lead with goals by Arbelaez, Toure, Sandoval, Alejandro Duque, Izmour, Flavio Souza and Cheikh Mbaye.

Handing out assists were Sandoval, Arbelaez, Souza, Kingsley Morgan, Duque and Nigel Lake, who had two.

In the second half, Javion Green scored with 9:32 remaining on an assist by Qassimlu Hamad. Davion Davis followed with a goal assisted by Duque.

GPC next hosts conference foe Young Harris College (8-2, 4-1) on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 4 p.m.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

September 30, 2009

Jaguars No. 1; Duque top player

Nationally, Georgia Perimeter College moved into the top spot this week and had another top player to boot.

Alejandro Duque

The Jaguars’ men’s soccer team vaulted from No. 3 to No. 1 in the National Junior College Athletic Association coaches poll with victories over two top-ten teams over the weekend.

Meanwhile, freshman midfielder Alejandro Duque was selected NJCAA Player of the Week, the second consecutive Georgia Perimeter player named to the honor in September.

Going into two weekend matches in Louisburg, N.C., GPC was ranked third in the national poll. Saturday, the Jaguars defeated then-No. 2 Mercer County Community College 6-1. On Sunday they topped the host, No. 7 Louisburg College, by a 4-1 score.

Duque tallied two goals and two assists against Mercer, including the eventual game-winner in the middle of the first half. He added a goal Sunday against Louisburg.

In a 9-0 victory Thursday over the University of South Carolina-Sumter, Duque scored on a corner kick and had an assist. He totaled 11 points for the week on four goals and 3 assists. Last week Jaguar goalkeeper Brian Garcia was named Player of the Week by the NJCAA. Each week the NJCAA names two players to the honor.

Tyler Junior College (Texas) dropped from first place to second in the national poll, while Mercer County slipped to third. Louisville, which lost to Mercer County Friday, dropped to tenth place. GPC head coach Marc Zagara says it is important to keep the significance of national polls in perspective.

“They don’t give rings out for being ranked No. 1 in September,” Zagara said.

In three of the past five national NJCAA tournaments, Zagara’s teams have played in the championship game, winning the national championship in 2005.

The Jaguars took the runner-up title in 2004 and 2007, finished in fifth place in 2006 and tied for fifth last year. Regularly ranked in the top 10 nationally, the Jaguars have made the elite eight in eight of the past 13 years.

To view the national rankings, visit www.njcaa.org.

September 27, 2009

Tripping another top-10 power

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team wrapped up a memorable weekend Sunday with a 4-1 win over host Louisburg (N.C.) College.

Aziz Izmour broke a scoreless tie with a goal late in the first half.

The Jaguars (11-0) likely will be rewarded this week with at least a No. 2 ranking in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll. GPC, which entered the challenging road trip at No. 3, should supplant current No. 2 Mercer County (N.J.) Community College, which fell to the Jaguars 6-1 on Saturday in Louisburg.

Top-rated Tyler (Texas) Community College remained unbeaten, winning its eighth match this weekend.

Depth paid off against the No. 7 Hurricanes (5-2) , who lost to Mercer on Friday and, unlike GPC, had a day of rest. Frequent substitutions were the antidote to fatigue as coach Marc Zagara used at least 20 players Sunday.

The Jaguars peppered the nets with 16 second-half shots, totaling 24 for the match. Brian Garcia withstood 13 Hurricane shots on goal.

GPC crammed a pair of goals into the final two minutes of the first half, both assisted by Junior Sandoval. Aziz Izmour scored the first, Boubacar Toure the second.

Alejandro Duque, who erupted for two goals and two assists against Mercer, continued his streak with a goal Sunday, 16 minutes from the end.

After Louisburg broke the shutout, Flavia Souza completed GPC’s dominant weekend on a goal with three minutes remaining via a pass from Toure.

The Jaguars return to region play Thursday, greeting Georgia Military College at 6 p.m. on the Dunwoody Campus.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

September 26, 2009

Jaguars storm nation’s No. 2 team

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team announced—loud and clear—Saturday that it will again contend for a national title.

Alejandro Duque

The Jaguars, ranked third in the NJCAA rankings, pounded Mercer County (N.J.) Community College 6-1 in Louisburg, N.C. The Vikings are ranked second and finished third in the NJCAA tournament last season.

It took awhile for GPC (10-0) to get rolling. The Jaguars did not score until 28 minutes into the match, but they amassed five goals by halftime.

Alejandro Duque was the offensive standout, notching two goals and two assists. Kingsley Morgan also had a pair of goals.

Richard Cayonne lit the fuse, scoring the first goal on a corner kick from Juan Arbelaez with 17 minutes left until intermission. A minute later, Duque banged in a penalty kick after a defender committed a handball violation on his chip shot in the box.

Morgan struck with nine minutes remaining, Duque assisting, then again three minutes later. Both Duque and Boubacar Toure earned assists.

GPC needed just one more minute to nail its fifth goal, Duque getting it on a pass from Toure.

The Jaguars, anticipating another big match Sunday against No. 7 Louisburg, substituted regularly in the second half. Chiekh Mbaye closed out GPC’s scoring with a goal, helped by Rury Alvarez.

Goalkeeper Jason Andrew lost his shutout bid with six minutes on the clock, but totaled seven saves in a standout performance. The defense allowed just one Mercer attempt on goal in the first half. The Jaguars wound up with 18 shots.

Louisburg is 5-1, having lost to Mercer 1-0 Friday. A Jaguars victory likely would vault them to No. 2 in the rankings.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

September 24, 2009

Weekend gala: battle of the unbeatens

The stout defense and goalkeeper Brian Garcia registered another shutout as the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team downed the University of South Carolina-Sumter 9-0 Thursday at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus.

Cheikh Mybaye, No. 23, led a balanced attack with two goals.

Garcia, a National Junior College Athletic Association Player of the Week, enjoyed airtight support from the defensive line. He faced only four shots on goal by the Fire Ants and saved them all.

Cheikh Mbaye, a freshman defender from Senegal, scored two goals, and the Jaguars shared the other eight.

Georgia Perimeter (9-0) leaves Friday for a long trip to Louisburg, N.C., and a weekend series that will have the attention of the junior college soccer world.

The Jaguars, No. 3 in the national poll, faces undefeated No. 2 Mercer County Community College on Saturday and unbeaten No. 7 Louisburg College on Sunday.

“We’ll find out where we are and where we need to be. No matter what happens it will be a good weekend,” says Jaguar head coach Marc Zagara.

Mercer County (6-0) defeated GPC in the 2004 national championship game. The Vikings have an anchor in All-American midfielder Amit Aburmad, a sophomore from Tel Aviv, Israel. He’s the team’s top scorer with three goals and five assists.

Louisburg (5-0) has been a perennial soccer power in the Southeast, going to the national tournament in five of the past eight seasons under head coach Dave Sexton. Sophomore forward Carl Munday leads the Hurricanes with nine goals and 4 assists.

Jaguar striker Flavio Souza opened Thursday’s scoring early in the first half with a double assist from Rury Alvarez and Qassimlu Hamad. Junior Sandoval followed with a goal assisted by Momodou Sanneh.

Goals by Boubacar Toure, Mbaye and Alejandro Duque (on a corner kick) upped the score to 5-0 at halftime. Recording assists were Juan Arbelaez and Mohammed Issahaku.

The Jaguars continued to share the honors in the second half. Aziz Izmour, Alvarez, Nigel Lake and Mbaye kicked in goals. Dishing out assists were Sanneh, Sandoval, Duque and Christian Ospina.

The shutout is Garcia’s fourth of the season. GPC has outscored its opponents 41-2.

Saturday’s match with Mercer County begins at 2 p.m, and Sunday’s Louisburg game begins at 1 p.m.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

September 23, 2009

Garcia named NJCAA Player of Week

Brian Garcia

The National Junior College Athletic Association this week named Georgia Perimeter College goalkeeper Brian Garcia Player of the Week for Division 1 men’s soccer.

Garcia, a sophomore transfer from Truett-McConnell College, is ranked No. 8 among NJCAA goalkeepers. Teammate Jason Andrew stands just above him at No. 7.

Garcia, picked up a pair of wins last week in front of the net. On September 15 he earned his third shutout in as many starts, recording two saves on two shots on goal in a 5-0 win over Spartanburg Methodist College.

In a 2-1 win over Darton College, he recorded 13 saves but allowed a penalty kick, the first goal against him this season.

Garcia has a goals-against average of 0.25 with 20 saves on 21 shots on goal. Andrew also sports a 0.25 with 16 saves in 17 SOGs. Andrew also has three shutouts and has permitted only one goal.

Georgia Perimeter moved up in the national coaches poll to No. 3, behind No. 2 Mercer County Community College, which the Jaguars play Saturday in Louisburg, N.C. Sunday they meet the weekend host, seventh-ranked Louisburg College.

September 19, 2009

Jaguars slip past Darton

Playing on turf soaked by a rainy week, the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team slipped and slid its way to a 2-1 conference victory over undefeated Darton College Saturday at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus.

Boubacar Toure returned from an injury to score two goals.

Freshman striker Boubacar Toure returned to the swampy field right on time after being sidelined with a groin injury since the season opener. Toure netted both Jaguar goals in the hard-fought contest.

The victory advanced GPC to 8-0 overall, 5-0 in Region 17 action.

“It’s good to have Boubacare back,” head coach Marc Zagara said. But he said that overall he wasn’t happy with his squad’s performance.

“You have to play according to the conditions,” he said. “We didn’t adapt very well. We didn’t play it smart.”

Zagara said the Jaguars needed to control the ball more with long passes, instead of dribbling and making combinations that are difficult to execute on a slick field.

“Darton figured it out,” he noted. After battling to a first-half scoreless tie, the Cavaliers pressured Georgia Perimeter’s defense in the second half.

However, in the 59th minute, GPC’s Juan Arbelaez ran the ball up the right side almost to the goal and sent it back to Toure, who scored from 20 feet out.

But Darton (3-1-1, 1-1-1) pounded away at the Jaguar defense, which committed a sliding-tackle in the box that brought a penalty kick by Jonathan Osorio. He blasted it past GPC goalkeeper Brian Garcia to tie the game with 18:44 left. It is the first goal scored against Garcia this season.

The game appeared to be heading toward a tie when Toure struck again with 5:08 on the clock. Rury Alvarez assisted with a long pass that Toure took deep to the left of the goal. He scooted the ball through defenders to the front of the goal and slammed in the winning score.

GPC sent 15 shots on goal at Darton keeper Fred Perez, who played a good game. At the other end, Garcia collected 13 saves, some while surfing on mud.

The Jaguars, who moved to No. 3 in the NJCAA poll this week, ride to Young Harris Tuesday for a showdown at 4 p.m. The Mountaineers (6-1, 2-0) are ranked No. 15 nationally.

After hosting the University of South Carolina-Sumter Thursday at 3 p.m., GPC travels to Louisburg, N.C., for weekend matches against No. 2 Mercer County Community College and No. 10 Louisburg College.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

September 17, 2009

Jaguars improve to 7-0

After sitting out a season, sophomore midfielder Nigel Lake regained his stride with two goals as Georgia Perimeter College downed Georgia Military College 9-0 Thursday.

Nigel Lake had two goals and an assist.

Lake, a member of GPC’s 2007 national runner-up squad, scored one of six Jaguar goals in the first half and added another in the second half.

GPC’s defense registered its sixth shutout of the season. The Jaguars, 7-0 and 4-0 in NJCAA Region 17, have outscored opponents 30-1. They allowed GMC only one shot, which goalkeeper Jason Andrew saved.

Meanwhile, they took 18 shots on goal and scored on half of them. Others who found the net in the first half were Rury Alvarez, Qassimlu Hamad, Mohammed Issahaku, Cheikh Mbaye and recently activated Kehinde Adeshigbin.

Juan Arbelaez and Alejandro Duque added goals in the second half as the Jaguars evenly distributed point-making duties.

They also shared in assists, except for Francisco Barbella’s three hand-offs. Even keeper Andrew registered an assist with a long punt to Arbelaez early in the second half.

Mbaye, Issahaku, Adeshigbin, Lake and Flavio Souza also contributed assists.

Saturday is a showdown of region unbeatens as GPC hosts Darton College (3-0-1, 1-0-1) at 2 p.m. If the recent siege of rain continues, the game will not be postponed until kick-off time.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

September 15, 2009

Defense and Souza produce some magic

With the defense posting its fifth shutout, the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team appears to be up to its old tricks. But sophomore striker Flavio Souza added a new trick Tuesday—a hat trick.

Flavio Souza scored three goals.

Souza scored three goals while the defense turned in an outstanding performance in a 5-0 victory over Spartanburg Methodist College at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus.

Six games into the season, Georgia Perimeter, long known for miserly defense, has outscored its opponents 16-1.

“The defense looked very good,” said assistant coach Ron Moore. “Defense is playing well; our goalkeepers are playing well, and the offense is coming around.”

Outside of Souza’s skillful fete, the scoring duplicated GPC’s previous game, when the Jaguars shut down South Georgia College by the identical 5-0 score, getting one goal in the first half and four in the second.

Against Spartanburg, Souza kicked his first goal five minutes into the game, but the Pioneers contained the score to 1-0 at halftime.

Georgia Perimeter repeated with four goals in the second half. Souza scored on an assist from Kingsley Morgan fourteen minutes into the period. Two minutes later he completed his hat trick with an assist from Rury Alvarez.

Mohammed Issahaku struck the net in the 82nd minute after a pass from Alejandro Duque. Then, a corner kick led to a scramble and a goal by Emerson Canales with two seconds remaining on the scoreboard.

GPC (6-0) launched 20 shots on goal, while the defensive fortress of Kingsley, Richard Cayonne, Thierry Betole and Javion Green permitted Spartanburg (2-3) only one shot. Earning his third shutout in as many starts, goalie Brian Garcia had two saves.

On the national front, GPC moved this week from fifth to fourth place in the National Junior College Athletic Association coaches poll.

The Jaguars next face three NJCAA Region 17 foes. Thursday they travel to Georgia Military College, followed by a home match against Darton College at 2 p.m.

Next Tuesday’s trip to Young Harris College begins a run against three nationally rated teams in four games. Young Harris (6-1) received votes in the NJCAA top twenty. On the weekend of Sept. 26, the Jaguars visit Louisburg, N.C., to play No. 2 Mercer County Community College and No. 11 Louisburg College.

“We’re going to get challenged,” Moore said.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

September 12, 2009

Jaguars blank South Georgia

Marc Zagara has been looking for improvement in the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team, and he says he saw it Saturday. Even the visiting coach agreed.

Cheikh Mbaye, left, and the defense have allowed one goal in five games.

GPC shut out South Georgia College 5-0 in a conference game at the Dunwoody Campus. The Jaguars did it with solid defense, outstanding ball control and an explosive second half.

“This was a little better,” Zagara said after his team improved to 5-0, 3-0 in the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA Region 17).

“It was encouraging to score more than a couple goals,” he added. “We did some things in the middle that were better.”

South Georgia coach Ken Kirsch complimented the Jaguars’ teamwork. “They moved off the ball very well. What they did is the style we try to teach.”

With an array of offensive combinations, GPC chalked up 19 shots on goal. The visitors managed only three, all saved by Jaguar keeper Jason Andrew as he earned his second shutout of the season.

Although the Tigers had three key players out with red cards and injury, they may not have penetrated Georgia Perimeter’s stingy midfield and defense.

However, South Georgia’s defense held up in the first half, keeping GPC out of the net until 4:58 on the clock. Rury Alvarez slipped a nifty pass to Junior Sandoval, who drilled it to break the ice for a 1-0 halftime lead.

Seven minutes into the second period, Alvarez tallied a second assist on a long dead ball kick from the left side, which Kingsley Morgan headed into the goal. That opened the floodgates as Flavio Souza scored two minutes later on a close in penalty kick.

As GPC’s depth began to wear down the Tigers, Cheikh Mbaye scored with 23:09 remaining on an assist by Alejandro Duque. Christian Ospina nailed a penalty kick at 10:36 to finish the scoring.

Tuesday, the Jaguars host Spartanburg Methodist College at 4 p.m.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

September 8, 2009

Jaguars repeat against Gordon

Georgia Perimeter College let Gordon College hang around Tuesday deep into their men’s soccer match before putting away the home team 2-0 for a conference victory.

In a dominant performance that was not reflected by the score, the Jaguars blasted 12 shots, 10 more than Gordon. But none found the net until 10 minutes remained, when sophomore forward Flavio Souza tallied, via an assist from Boubacar Toure.

In the game’s final minute, Juan Arbalaez finally allowed GPC to breathe easy, scoring on a pass from Cheikh Mbaye.

Brian Garcia was lightly tested in goal, making two saves for Georgia Perimeter.

“We have a long way to go,” coach Marc Zagara said. “There are a number of areas that need significant improvement, especially if we plan to play late in November.”

The victory in Barnesville was a repeat of GPC’s season opener, a 3-0 triumph on August 28 in which the Highlanders kept the game in suspense deep into the second half.

The Jaguars are 4-0 overall, 2-0 in the Georgia Junior College Athletic Association (Region 17 of the National Junior College Athletic Association). Gordon dipped to 0-5-1, 0-4.

The Jaguars are back home Saturday—after three road dates—with a confrontation against South Georgia College at 2 p.m. on the Dunwoody Campus. The undefeated Tigers (4-0, 3-0 Region 17) also played Gordon and won 1-0.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

August 30, 2009

Sandoval’s strikes singe Middle Georgia

Sunday’s match between Georgia Perimeter College and Region 17 foe Middle Georgia College was delayed about 1 1/2 hours because of lightning in the area.

Junior Sandoval

When the weather cleared, freshman midfielder Junior Sandoval had a pair of lightning-quick goals as the Jaguars managed a 2-1 victory at Young Harris College’s field. The victory improved Georgia Perimeter to 3-0.

Playing its third match in as many days, GPC sent out a fresh lineup but settled on a scoreless tie at the half.

Five minutes into the second period, Sandoval tallied on an assist from Momodou Sanneh. Four minutes later, he struck again, assisted by Juan Arbelaez.

Middle Georgia (1-1, 0-1) answered with a goal off of a corner kick, the first point allowed by the Jaguars this season.

The Warriors applied pressure on GPC’s back line throughout the final 10 minutes but could not equalize. They wound up with nine shots, half of GPC’s amount.

Goalkeeper Jason Andrew turned aside seven attempts. “He did a nice job,” head coach Marc Zagara said.

“We need to improve,” Zagara said. “We have a long way to go.”

The Jaguars, ranked No. 5 in the National Junior College Athletic Association coaches’ poll, have a week to prepare for their next outing Sept. 8 at Gordon College.

The next home game will be Saturday, Sept. 12 against South Georgia College at 2 p.m.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

August 29, 2009

GPC surges in second half

The Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team put on a dominant performance Saturday in its road debut, even if the score did not reflect the game’s one-sided nature for awhile.

GPC and Tri-County Tech were scoreless nearing halftime before Saudin Garanovic broke the stalemate with a goal in the final minute.

That opened the floodgates as second-period scores by Rury Alvarez, Junior Sandoval and Kingsley Morgan made it an ultimately comfortable 4-0 win. Momodou Sanneh and Davian Davis each had an assist.

GPC (2-0) outshot Tri-County 35-3 in the match played on neutral turf at Young Harris College.

“We had trouble getting our shots on target,” said head coach Marc Zagara, who also found fault with the back line. “But it was a win.”

Goalkeeper Brian Garcia was lightly tested, totaling two saves. With his shutout the Jaguars remain unscored upon two games into the season.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

August 28, 2009

GPC opens with ‘sloppy’ shutout

Heavy rains Friday promised a sloppy season opener for the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team. It wasn’t—and it was.

Juan Arbelaez led the Jaguars with two goals.

By game time the field at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus had drained sufficiently to prevent a slip-sliding contest. And the Jaguars displayed some exceptional talent in shutting out Gordon College 3-0 in what was also their NJCAA Region 17 opening match.

But head coach Marc Zagara called his team’s performance “sloppy,” despite its dominance.

“Our shooting was sloppy,” Zagara said. GPC fired 27 shots on goal, but Zaraga claimed only five or six were on target. Most soared wide or high above the bar.

“This isn’t the level we want to play,” he said.

However, the Jaguars (1-0, 1-0 Region 17) controlled the game with long, precise passes, dazzling ball control and some methodical combinations.

Eleven minutes into the first half, freshman midfielder Juan Arbelaez took an assist from Momodou Sanneh to score GPC’s first goal of the new season.

Thanks to a solid defense, Gordon (0-1, 0-1) held the score to 1-0 at halftime. And through most of the second period the Highlanders made it anybody’s game.

With 3:41 left in the match, GPC’s Kingsley Morgan scored during a scramble in front of the net after a corner kick by Alejandro Duque, who was credited with the assist.

Less than two minutes later Qassimlu Hamad made a long downfield cross to Arbelaez, who boomed it in to close out the scoring.

Although stalwart defender Richard Cayonne sat out with an injury, Georgia Perimeter’s defense allowed Gordon only three shots on goal. Goalkeeper Jason Andrews saved all three in producing the shutout.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

August 27, 2009

Jaguars eye sixth straight title

What does the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team have in common with sandwiches and hardback cover novels?

Richard Cayonne

The best of each can be found in the middle.

Like sandwich filling and the pages of a book, the Jaguars’ finest feature is in the center. GPC, ranked No. 5 in the National Junior College Athletic Association preseason poll, has so many gifted midfielders that coach Marc Zagara is giving some of them looks at other positions.

“Our midfield is maybe the strongest we’ve had since our national championship in 2005,” says Zagara, who was named last month to the National Junior College Athletics Association Soccer Hall of Fame. “We have size, speed, strength, skills and depth.”

The coach may substitute in lines, hockey-style, to keep the midfield fresh. Depth is a hallmark of Jaguars soccer, enabling them to reach the NJCAA playoffs in five consecutive seasons.

“We’ll have a half-dozen kids sitting on the bench that would start for 99 percent of the junior college teams,” he says. “My goal is never to have the best 11 players, but to have the best 18 and wear people down.”

The mighty midfield may help rectify a shortcoming of last season’s team: ball possession. The Jaguars (17-3-3) did well to finish tied for fifth in the NJCAA with a roster that did not wield as much offensive punch as previous editions.

Flavio Souza

The 2008 defense “was one of the best I’ve ever had,” Zagara says. “They had to be.”

The nationals effort was a microcosm of the season. GPC scored three goals in three matches but allowed only one, a penalty kick.

“We are much more talented this year,” Zagara says. “That doesn’t always mean anything.”

A freshmen stalwart on the 2008 backline, Fode Diallo, one of two All-Americans on that team, is academically ineligible. Unfortunately, 2007 All-American defender Lance DaCosta also is unable to return after missing last season.

GPC must fill voids left by two other regulars who were expected back, plus four graduates who advanced to four-year colleges. The tentative 25-man roster early this week listed only six sophomores.

“I’m not overly concerned about that,” says Zagara, noting that several players are in their 20s. They include sophomore midfielder Nigel Lake (Miami, Killian H.S.), who sat out last year, and freshman striker Boubacar Toure (Gambia, Brikama H.S.), who sacrificed college after high school in order to stay home and help with his family.

Junior Sandoval

Illustrating GPC’s depth, Lake was a starter in 2007 but likely will substitute this season. “And he’s improved,” Zagara says.

Sophomore defender Richard Cayonne (Trinidad, Pentacostal H.S.) earned the captaincy. Says the coach, “Great heart, great athlete.”

Zagara compares freshman midfielder Junior Sandoval (Centennial H.S.) to a former GPC great, All-American Luis Campo, who led the 2005 national championship team.

“Junior can go hard for 90 minutes,” the coach says.

The biggest threat up front figures to be sophomore striker Flavio Souza (Coral Springs, Taravella H.S.). “A very skillful player,” Zagara says.

Many starting roles remained up for grabs a week before the season opener, including goalkeeper. Sophomore Julian Garcia (Flowery Branch, Flowery Branch H.S.), whose eligibility was in question, is being challenged by newcomers Jason Andrew (Dominican Republic, Dominica H.S.) and Bryan Garcia (Dacula).

The Jaguars’ schedule launches Friday with a 5 p.m. game against Gordon College on the Dunwoody Campus. Saturday and Sunday the squad hits the road to visit Tri-County Technical College and Middle Georgia College.

The schedule features late September games on back-to-back days against No. 3 Mercer County Community College and No. 11 Louisburg College, both in Louisburg, N.C.

No. 15 Young Harris College (Sept. 22 on the road, Oct. 6 at home) poses the stiffest test in the improved Georgia Junior College Athletic Association. South Georgia, Darton and Middle Georgia also loom as threats to GPC in its march to a sixth straight conference title.

“This might be one of the better conferences in the country,” Zagara says.

Still, GPC is not expected to wind up sandwiched in the middle of the standings.

The Jaguars’ home soccer games are played at GPC’s Dunwoody Campus, 2101 Womack Road, Dunwoody, GA, 30338.

August 14, 2009

Four Jaguars sign with four-year schools

Four sophomores from the Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer team recently signed to play at four-year institutions. Striker Mike Mecerod signed with Jacksonville University. Last season, he was named honorable mention All-America and was one of three players placed on the All-Region first team.

Defender Marco Casanova and striker Bediako Swan were named honorable mention All-Region and signed with University of Central Florida and Davis and Elkins College, respectively.

Forward Emmanuel Barriyiga signed with Southern Polytechnic State University.

July 9, 2009

Coach Zagara selected for Hall of Fame

Georgia Perimeter College men’s soccer coach Marc Zagara has been elected to the National Junior College Athletic Association Soccer Hall of Fame. The NJCAA announced the selection Wednesday.

Marc Zagara

Zagara has built a regional and national dynasty in 18 seasons as head coach at Georgia Perimeter. He has a stellar 277-72-13 record at GPC. His overall record, including seven years at Finger Lakes Community College is 352-147-19.

In three of the past five national NJCAA tournaments, Zagara’s Jaguars have played in the championship game, winning the national championship in 2005 with a 20-2-1 record.

They took the runner-up title in 2004 and 2007, finished in fifth place in 2006 and tied for fifth last year. Regularly ranked in the top 10 nationally, the Jaguars have made the elite eight in eight of the past 13 years.

Zagara’s teams have produced 29 All-Americans, and 12 players have gone on to play professional soccer.

Joining Zagara in the Hall of Fame induction will be Steve Clements of Tyler Junior College. They will be inducted in November and honored at NJCAA soccer banquets in Trenton, N.J. and Herkimer, N.Y.