Meridian Star

Sports

August 15, 2013

EC Soccer hopes to repeat championship in 2013

DECATUR —    For the first time in school history, the East Central Community College men’s soccer team begins season action as defending division champions.

    The Soccer Warriors, who travel to Copiah-Lincoln Community College for the season opener scheduled at 6 p.m. Thursday, August 22 in Wesson, experienced their most successful campaign in 2012, earning a share of the MACJC North Division title by posting a 5-2-1 mark. EC advanced to the MACJC State Soccer Tournament en route to a 10-6-3 record under Kenneth Thompson, who completed his 14th season leading the Warrior program.

    Coach Thompson said the goal this year is to win an outright division title and compete for a state championship.

    “2012 was a great year for the Warriors, and with the return of eight fulltime starters we are hoping for continued and greater success in 2013,” said Thompson.

    However, the Soccer Warriors must find a replacement for two key members of the championship squad who are continuing their careers on the next level.

    Forward McGee Ledbetter of Columbus signed with NAIA National Champion Belhaven University Blazers, and keeper Jared Canoy of Biloxi is now a member of the Mississippi College Choctaws.

    Ledbetter was selected Region 23 Player of the Year after leading the league in scoring with 14 goals, one assist and 29 total points. He also received team co-captain and Golden Boot awards. Ledbetter is a product of Heritage Academy in Columbus.

    Canoy is a two-time MACJC All-State selection. He was also the recipient of team most valuable player and co-captain awards. Canoy is a product of West Harrison High School.

    Despite the loss of two former standouts, Thompson said the 2013 squad features “plenty of returning talent,” including three players who received MACJC All-State honors – defender Jesse Vaughn and forward Russ Thompson, both products of Newton County High School; and forward Taylor Potter of Bentonia, a former standout at Mississippi School for Math and Science.

    Potter and Thompson were the team’s second and third leading scorers, respectively, from the 2012 campaign.

    Thompson noted scoring should not be a problem for the 2013 team, as four of the top five scorers return to action.

    Defensively, Thompson said four of the top five defenders return to the lineup and include Vaughn, Jordan Walker of Newton County High School, Forest Mueller of Hahnville (La.) High School and Zack Killion of South Oldham (Ky.) High School.

    Other key returnees include midfielders Will Thompson of Newton County, Kennon Craft of Clinton and Garrett Blevins of Harrison Central; forward Clint McGraw of Tupelo Christian; defenders Tyravian Miller of Moss Point and Ryan Artman of Grenada; and keeper Matt Taylor of Clarkdale.

    Thompson said several newcomers should also attract attention this year. Players to watch include forward Jesus Onofre, a 2011 graduate of Forest High School, and midfielder Jordan Alonso of Newton County.

    Another top newcomer is freshman forward Dalton Smith, who was the top scorer last year at Florence High School.

    “We hope Dalton can help shoulder the scoring load this season,” added Thompson.

    Other freshmen and their respective high schools include keeper Matt Sykes, Heritage Academy; forwards Tim Nix of D’Iberville, Daniel Casaca of Forest and Joseph Gaskin of Maranatha Christian in Greenville; midfielders Chase McNair of Neshoba Central, Nick Breland of Stone County, Eliud Alvarez of Forest; and defenders Jerry Byrd of D’Iberville, Hector Ortiz of Enterprise and David Williams of Newton County.

    Thompson said the talent-laden roster should provide a crowd-pleasing brand of soccer for the 2013 campaign.

    “Fans will once again be treated to an exciting, attacking style of soccer,” said Thompson. “The 2012 Warriors kept fans on the edge of their seats and 2013 should be more of the same. Maintaining possession with an attractive passing game along with a swarming defense will thrill fans!”   

    The Soccer Warriors will make three road trips prior to their home opener with Meridian Community College Friday, August 30. Game time is set for 5 p.m. on the Decatur campus.

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