The NJCAA Division III Men’s Soccer National Tournament is set for November 14-17 and will be held at Herkimer County Community College in New York. Herkimer is the defending back-to-back national champion and cruised to their 23rd-straight Region 3 title this season, losing just once (1-0 to NJCAA Division I team Bryant & Stratton College).
Making their first nationals appearance, Century College will be facing #2-seed Montgomery College. The Region 13 & District C champion Century College did not struggle to score goals this season, averaging 3 per match. The Wood Ducks were led on offense by freshman Zach Wilmes with 23 goals. A 2013 graduate of Park High School in Cottage Grove, Wilmes also played club soccer with the Minnesota Thunder Academy NPL team.
Leading the Century College soccer program is Head Coach David Palmer. A White Bear Lake native, Palmer has been coaching the Wood Ducks since 2009. Palmer guided the team to the Region 13 championship game in 2009, 2011 and 2012 each time coming up short. This year, on October 20 the Wood Ducks won their first Region 13 title by defeating their rival Anoka-Ramsey Community College (12-3-1) by a score of 2-0.
Century advanced to nationals by defeating Joliet Junior College 1-0 in the District C championship. A grinding game for the first hour, Century began mounting pressure the final half hour and were rewarded with the game-winning goal by Ryan Flynn in the 90′. Flynn was second in team goals, scoring six on the season.
After winning Districts Coach Palmer commented, “we didn’t play as well as I would have hoped for, but the one thing I know about this team is that they will never quit. They have that ‘never say die attitude’ so I knew that if we could keep the opponent off the scoreboard, we would be able to come out of the game with a win.”
Another key player for the Wood Ducks this season is goalkeeper Christian Espitia. The freshman posted a 0.48 GAA and .909 save% in 17 matches this season. A native of Bogota (Columbia), Espitia played his club soccer with the Minnesota TwinStars FC in the summer of 2013.
The Montgomery College Raptors (21-1) were the Maryland JUCO conference champions, going undefeated at 12-0. Their lone loss on the season was to the 4-seed Bunker Hill Community College in September. Montgomery led the country in offense with 137 goals, scoring five goals or more 13 times and 10 goals or more in five matches.
Coach Palmer added, “the entire team was thrilled with the result and being named District C Champions, however we know that our performance needs to improve if we want to do well in the National Tournament. Right now, we are training hard to get prepared to face #2 Montgomery College.”
National Tournament Quarterfinals-November 14
- 10:00 AM: Herkimer County (14-1) vs SUNY Adirondack (14-2)
- 12:30 PM: Bunker Hill (17-3) vs Richland (9-4)
- 3:00 PM: Montgomery (21-1) vs Century College (6-12-1)
- 5:30 PM: Suffolk County (16-1-2) vs Camden County (17-3)