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Eastern Florida Men's Soccer Seeks to Continue Stellar First Season in NJCAA Playoffs
Oct. 29, 2013 - Eastern Florida State College's inaugural men's soccer team has had a remarkable season.
The Titans are 10-1-1 with a 10-game unbeaten streak, are ranked fourth nationally by the NJCAA and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America and are in the postseason.
How do the players account for such success after just 12 weeks together, 12 games and six scrimmages?
"It's team bonding," sophomore and second-leading scorer Johnathan Quintero said after Eastern Florida's regular-season closing 6-1 victory over Middle Georgia State College on Sunday. The Titans face Middle Georgia (3-11) for the third time this season in Wednesday's 4 p.m. NJCAA district play-in game in Cochran, GA. The webcast of the match can be watched online by clicking here.
The men's soccer team strikes a pose in Melbourne as they board the team bus to head for Cochran, GA to play Middle Georgia State College at Middle’s field at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the NJCAA Division I district tournament play-in game.
"We all hang out, we live at the apartments together, we cook together," Quintero added. (Saturday) night I cooked up for the whole team. We're more of a family than friends."
Freshman co-captain Mike O'Sullivan echoed Quintero's assessment.
"Coming in, not knowing each other I think it's better than a team already there because there's going to be outcasts at the beginning of the season," O'Sullivan said.
"We all had to get to know each other from the beginning because barely any of us knew each other. We just worked hard, knuckled down in training and got the job done."
The training under Twelvetrees, that stressed toughness, preparation, big picture and small details, was a big factor.
"It's brought everybody's game level from average to the only word is super," Quintero said. "Everybody's picked up their game tremendously. We've got depth on the bench, that's what makes this a next level program."
The only blemishes on Eastern Florida's record are a 3-1 loss to then-nationally 17th-ranked San Jacinto, TX in the season's second game on Aug. 24 in Mississippi and a 2-2 double overtime draw with then second-ranked Darton College on Oct. 4 in Melbourne.
San Jacinto is now ranked third and Darton seventh.
Darton awaits for the third time this season as Saturday's semifinal host should Eastern Florida win its play-in match.
In addition to Darton, which it defeated 4-3 in their first meeting on Sept. 6 in Albany, GA, and Middle Georgia, which it defeated twice; Eastern Florida also has defeated Andrew College of Georgia and Georgia Perimeter.
Should it prevail in the Georgia district playoffs it would advance to play the North Carolina-South Carolina winner for the right to advance to the Nov. 18-23 NJCAA Men's Division I National Championship Tournament at Tyler Junior College in Texas.
Eastern Florida will look to leading scorer freshman Jordan Muir (nine goals and eight assists), Quintero (eight goals and eight assists including seven goals in his last two games) and freshman Farias Juarez (six goals and four assists) as the main sources of offense. Also vital is freshman Justin Gavin who has a team-leading 12 assists.
Freshman Jorge Madera will continue his stellar play in goal behind a solid starting defense of freshmen Ivan Magalhaes, Keenan King, Arturo Roosen and Josue Rodriquez.
Anchoring the midfield are freshmen Manuel Goldberg, Christian Grajeda and Kevyn McFarlane.
"It's a good achievement for the boys," Twelvetrees said in summarizing the regular season. "We've laid a benchmark for the future. This is what we are going to expect and we're going to hold high standards to the players and the new players coming into the program.
"But, we're not finished yet. We're hopeful that we are going to have a great postseason too."