It is hard to talk about the Yavapai College soccer program without also mentioning the program at Mercer County Community College (N.J.).
One difference between the two teams is the number of players inducted to the NJCAA Soccer Hall of Fame. Each school adds two more former stars this November.
Yavapai will send forward Kevin Jeffrey and defender Matt Kirkpatrick to the Hall, giving them eight players inducted. That's more than any program.
Mercer will also send two players, bringing its total to five - second only to YC.
Both schools have won seven national championships, although three of Mercer's preceded the YC program's inception.
Both have their head coaches as well as their assistant coaches in the Hall.
One of Mercer's entrants this year, Stern John, had his shining moment in the 1995 championship game, scoring two goals against Yavapai in a 2-0 win.
Jeffrey and Kirkpatrick had their moments as sophomores in 1997, beating Mercer in the title match 3-0 at Mercer.
All three enter the Hall at this year's national tournament in Trenton, N.J., the home of the Mercer Vikings.
"What a tribute that would be for them to return to the very complex where they made their mark," YC head coach Mike Pantalione said.
Kirkpatrick added, "It's kind of cool timing. We went to Mercer our first year and just got beat.
"Then to go back to Mercer our second year and do what we did is pretty sweet. It'll be nice to go back there and accept such an honor."
Kirkpatrick said even though it is an individual accolade, it's also a team achievement.
The 1997 team was the first at Yavapai to go unbeaten at 23-0-1.
The 2008 team went 26-0.
And the co-captains aren't even the first of that group to enter the Hall. Goalkeeper Kelvin Jack was inducted two years ago.
Jack and his teammates did not allow a postseason goal that year and he credited his back four defenders, including Kirkpatrick.
Kirkpatrick said they all knew where they needed to go, and that was to Jeffrey who scored what was at the time a team record with 31 goals that season.
Coming off a runner-up finish in 1996, Jeffrey guaranteed a title and upon completing it said, "I promised, we delivered."
"Without a shadow of a doubt, the two best captains we've had associated with this program in our history," Pantalione said of Kirkpatrick and Jeffrey.
Kirkpatrick was roommates with both Jack and Jeffrey at one point, even rooming with Jeffrey for four years at Virginia Commonwealth University. He said both are great guys, but it all comes back to Pantalione and assistant coach Hugh Bell.
"Just the kind of guys they recruit and how great of guys they are," Kirkpatrick said. "Just year after year, the guys who they bring in, they've just got a machine going. It's a credit to them really."
Conversely, Pantalione said Kirkpatrick was an extension of the coaching staff on the field, calling him one of the smartest players, if not the smartest, they have ever had. And that's not just because of his English accent.
The championship they collected in 1997 came after three straight runner-up finishes - two at the hands of Mercer. Kirkpatrick helped Jack pitch the shutout and Jeffrey put away the second goal of the game in the early stages.
Kirkpatrick said he would be in Trenton in November to receive his honor and relive that moment.
Jeffrey was unavailable for comment.
"It's really nice to be thought of even when you're long finished," he said. "It's amazing to be a part of Yavapai even though it's been like over 10 years. You're still connected to the program through things like this."
NJCAA Men's Soccer Coaches Association Announces 2009 Hall of Fame Inductees
Two long-time coaches in the sport of soccer are joined by six players who impacted JUCO soccer in the '90s are the 2009 inductees to the NJCAA Soccer Hall of Fame. During the month of November, the eight inductees will be officially honored at the NJCAA Division One Soccer Banquet in Trenton, New Jersey and the NJCAA Division Three Soccer Banquet at Herkimer, New York. They join 51 other coaches, contributors and players already named to the NJCAA Soccer Hall of Fame. The 2009 Hall of Fame class includes:
Marc Zagara is in his 25th year of coaching beginning at the Finger Lakes Community College (NY) and, during the past 18 years, with Georgia Perimeter College (GA). Entering the 2009 season, he has an overall coaching mark of 328-117-15, including a victory over Yavapai College in the 2005 NJCAA National Championship Game. He has coached 26 All-Americans, with 11 moving into the professional ranks. In addition, he has been the chair of the NSCAA National Coach of the Year committee for six years, national chair of the NSCAA All-America selection committee for ten years and has served on the NJCAA Rankings committee for 14 years.
Steve Clements is in his 16th year of coaching beginning at Meridian Community College (Miss.) and during the past seven years with Tyler Junior College (Tex.) compiling a record of 241-58-11 entering the 2009 season. He took center stage in the 2000 season leading the Mississippi school to a NJCAA National Championship over Bryant & Stratton (NY) while being named National Coach of the Year. A significant contributor to the sport and promoter of junior college soccer, he has been President of the NJCAA Coaches Association since 2003 and has served on the NSCAA All-America committee and NJCAA Rankings Committee for the past 14 years.
Stern John led Mercer County Community College to the 1995 NJCAA National Championship over Yavapai College, while earning All-America honors. He spent one season in the "A" League with Carolina and New Orleans before joining the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer in 1998. He led the MLS in goals scored (26) in 1998 and tied for the league lead in 1999. During his ten seasons in England, beginning in 1999, he played for several clubs. The highlight was his spelled with Birmingham City, completing in the Premier League. Besides Nottingham Forest he played for Sunderland, Southampton, Coventry City and currently Bristol City in the Championship (England First Division), scoring a total of 69 goals. He is the second most capped player (104) with the Trinidad & Tobago National Team and helped his country qualify for the 2006 World Cup.
Daouda Kante was an All-American at Mercer County Community College in 1998 before moving on to Florida International University and the professional ranks. He was drafted by the Miami Fusion in the 2001 MLS Super Draft but chose not to sign in contract in order to earn his college degree. DC United drafted him in 2002 was transferred to New England and help the Revolution to the 2003 Soccer Bowl Final. After playing five seasons in the Major League Soccer, he become the Technical Director of the Kansas City Rush Soccer Club and also coaches in the Kansas City Wizards youth program.
Matt Tanzini was named to the NSCAA All-America team in 1996 and honored as NSCAA National Player of the Year as a sophomore after leading Herkimer County Community College to back to back NJCAA Division Three National Championships. After attending Herkimer he played as an attacker for West Virginia University in the Big East Conference. His eight year professional career took him to the NPSL Buffalo Blizzard, MISL Harrisburg Heat, MISL Kansas City Comets, and the last four years in the USL Div. 2 with the Harrisburg City Islanders. He was also a member of the United States Futsal Team when they competed in the World Championships earlier this decade.
Kevin Jeffrey scored, at that time, a team record 31 goals for Yavapai College in 1997 captained the unbeaten Roughriders to the NJCAA National Championship over Mercer County 3-0 in New Jersey. In the same season, he was named to the All-America Team and the NJCAA All-Tournament Team, as the top attacker, and was also honored as the 1997 NSCAA National Junior College Player of the Year. He was a forward for two seasons at Virginia Commonwealth University and enjoyed a long professional career in the old "A" League, now the United Soccer League. He played for San Francisco, Richmond, Carolina and Toronto where he recorded 72 goals, 38 assists for 182 points. He also represented the Trinidad & Tobago National Team.
Matt Kirkpatrick captained and anchored the Yavapai College defense recording 31 shutouts while compiling an overall record of 45-1-2 during his two year career with the Arizona school. In 1997, he led Yavapai College to the NJCAA National Championship over the host school, Mercer County, NJ 3-0. He was named to the NSCAA All-America Team and the NJCAA National All-Tournament Team, as the top defender. He played two seasons for Virginia Commonwealth University before moving into the professional ranks in the "A" League with San Francisco. After his playing days, he coached at Longwood University (VA) a NCAA Division One program. Currently, he is the assistant coaching director for the Richmond Strikers Soccer Club.
Matt Spears was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1998 NJCAA National Tournament while in goal for State Fair Community College of Missouri. He was also named two-time NAIA All-America goalkeeper while playing for William Carey University (Miss.) during the 2000 and 2001 seasons. In 2002, he was drafted by the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer. Later he played for Derry City FC in Ireland's Premier Division for five seasons starting in 2003.