Angelina College Soccer Team Gets Invite to Championship Tourney
Just under a week ago, the players on the Angelina College soccer team were frustrated and dejected after being on the wrong side of a 5-0 score at their conference championship game against Tyler Junior College. But, on Tuesday, November 8, that mood was replaced with elation and relief when a selection committee revealed that the Roadrunners had been chosen to compete in the NJCAA Division I soccer tournament.
The Roadrunner players, coaches, and supporters were gathered at a watch party on the AC campus. The collective cheers echoed through the building when they say the Angelina College name on the screen as one of the participants in the upcoming tournament kicking off in Melbourne, Florida this weekend.
The announcement marks the first time an AC soccer team has participated in the national tournament in the program’s six-year history.
“I’m elated. It’s been a journey, it’s been a process, and to see the hard work over the course of these past two years rewarded with a trip to the big dance is very, very special,” AC head coach Nataki Stewart said.
The tournament will follow a pool play, double-elimination format starting on Sunday, Nov. 13. The Roadrunners enter the tourney as the No. 10 seed and will start off in Pool C with No. 3 Monroe College and No. 6 Jefferson College. AC first will face Monroe College at 3 p.m. on Sunday the 13th.
The ‘Runners finished the season with a 15-2-1 record and a No. 6 ranking in the final national polls.
AC’s Lady Roadrunners were hoping for an at-large berth after a 15-3-1 season and a No. 12 national ranking, but the team was squeezed out of the 12-team tournament, ending their season.
“The women had a fantastic year,” Stewart said. “We were the only team in the country to go toe-to-toe with the No. 1 team in the nation (AC’s only losses came to No. 1 Tyler Junior College, and each of the three losses came by a single goal) three times. I thought with that kind of resume, and with some of our big wins in the regular and postseason, our ladies had a shot.
“It certainly doesn’t take anything away from the history this special group has created.”
Stewart said his team isn’t going “just to say we went.” He believes his Roadrunners have a shot at a deep run toward a national title.
“To be honest, we had a reset yesterday after discussing our loss in the conference finals,” Stewart said. “We had to refocus with a very tough session with hopes of hearing our name called today.
“Now that we know, now comes the preparation and getting back to who we were a few weeks ago. We have a ticket, so we definitely have a chance, and I expect us to make a great showing.”