Phantoms stay focused towards season’s end

By David Schwartz

Phantoms forward Alvin Davis attempts to kick the ball past MCCC’s defense on Oct. 14 at Montgomery County Community College. Photo by David Schwartz

The men’s soccer team’s season came to a close with a 2-1 road loss to Bucks County Community College in the opening round of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division III Region XIX Playoffs Oct. 21.

The Phantoms final regular season record of 7-6 led to an 11 seed in the playoffs. Bucks County ended their regular season with an 11-5-1 record and a 6 seed.

Bucks County midfielder Howard Haas scored the first goal in the 27th minute, which gave them a 1-0 lead. They extended the lead to 2-0 in the 85th minute with a goal scored by forward Ilia Borisov.

DCCC avoided the shutout with a penalty kick by forward Luke Maruca in the 89th minute to cut the deficit to 2-1. Goalie Joseph Messina ended the game with six saves out of eight shots on goal.

The loss left the Phantoms with a 7-7 record for the season in what had been a “fantastic, growing experience,” according to head coach Ryan Griffith, who just finished his 14th season.

“It’s not about perfection, it’s about progression,” Griffith said. “Once the boys progress from a day-to-day basis and focus on the student athletic portion [of the season], then they will be successful on the field.”

The Phantoms faced adversity a week prior when they suffered an 8-2 loss on the road to Montgomery County Community College. After MCCC led 2-1 at halftime, they broke away and outscored DCCC 6-1 in the second half due to multiple defensive breakdowns.

Phantoms forward Abu Bangura scored the only goal. The team’s other goal was scored due to a deflection by MCCC into their own net. Messina saw plenty of action by recording eight saves out of 16 shots on goal.

“It is what it is at this point,” Griffith said as he addressed his team after the loss. “It’s over and done with.”

Griffith knew the team needed to keep their composure and stick to the “keys of success” to win the team’s final regular season home game 4-2 Oct. 17 against Harrisburg Area Community College.

“We have about six keys every game,” Griffith said. “One of [those keys] is 90 plus minutes of defensive intensity and we didn’t do that.”

The team stuck to that key against Harrisburg to finish the regular season. Messina had five saves out of seven shots on goal while forward Juan Saravia led the scoring with two goals, along with a goal by Maruca and Bangura each.

Phantoms Coach Ryan Griffith talks to his team during an injury timeout on Oct. 14 at Montgomery County Community College Photo by David Schwartz

As the season came to a close, the Phantoms earned accolades with Maruca and forward Shamour Young earning spots on the Eastern Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (EPAC) All-Conference First Team. Young also made the Region XIX Division III All-Region Third Team.

Maruca finished the season with three goals and three assists, while Young finished with five goals and two assists. Messina closed his season stat line with 83 saves out of 131 shots on goal and one shutout.

“I was really shocked and excited,” Young said on making All-Conference and All-Region. “My goal is to get a scholarship so it’s another step towards that goal.”

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