11/05/04 — MOC cross country preview

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Published in Sports on November 5, 2004 1:55 PM

BELMONT -- The Mount Olive College men's soccer team may be able to take inspiration from the Boston Red Sox. Just as the Red Sox finally overtook the New York Yankees, the Trojans hope this is the year they can finally get past Queens in the conference tournament.

Mount Olive returns to the "final four" for the first time since 1996 as the fourth-seeded Trojans take on top-seeded Queens in the semifinal round of the 2004 NCAA Division II Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference men's soccer tournament Saturday morning at Belmont Abbey.

Kickoff is slated for 9:30 a.m.

The Trojans (13-5-2) withstood a shaky start Wednesday and pulled away in the second half to defeat fifth-seeded Barton 4-0 in the first round at Trojan Field. CVAC scoring leader and Eastern Wayne graduate Cory Worrell scored two goals, while freshman goalkeeper Chris Roush and the Trojan defense posted their fifth shutout of the season.

Head coach Jerry Riggs says the win helped his squad erase a frustrating end to the regular season, which saw the Trojans drop their last three conference matches.

"The win over Barton was a great relief," said Riggs. "It showed we still know how to win. The game showed we're okay and we can play."

The win also erased seven years of frustration in the CVAC Tournament. The Trojans had been eliminated in the first round of the CVAC Tournament in each of the last seven years, including the last two against Queens.

"This is only my third year at Mount Olive and this will be the sixth time we've played Queens," said Riggs, who is 0-5 against the Royals. "I feel like we're due."

That Riggs is winless against Queens isn't to say his teams haven't come close. Three of the last four losses have been by one goal, including a triple overtime 2-1 loss in the first round of the 2002 CVAC Tournament. Two weeks ago, Mount Olive fell to Queens 1-0 in a match that saw the Trojans outshoot the Royals 14-9.

"We know we can play with these guys," said Riggs. "The guys are excited about this game. We're confident if we play at the same level we played the first time, we have a good chance."

Worrell has 23 goals on the season, which not only leads the CVAC but is also a Trojan single-season record. Junior Reid Clewis, who scored a goal Wednesday, has made the most of moving from midfield to forward to start the season. After not scoring a goal in his first two years, Clewis ranks third in the CVAC with 12 goals.

Senior midfielder Warren Atkins leads the CVAC and ranks sixth in the nation with 16 assists. At one point this year, Atkins led the nation in assists per game. Clewis is second in the conference with 10 assists. Defensively, Roush ranks second in the CVAC with a 0.96 goals against average.

When Mount Olive and Queens met October 23, both teams were tied at No. 5 in the NSCAA/Adidas Division II Southeast Region rankings. Since then, Mount Olive dropped to No. 7, while Queens (14-1-1) jumped into a tie at No. 1 in the region to go with a No. 12 national ranking.

Queens defeated eighth-seeded Coker (S.C.) College 4-0 on Wednesday in the first round. Demetrius Donald and Eric Blevens each tallied a goal and an assist.

Statistically, Mount Olive and Queens hold the top two spots in the CVAC in both team offense and team defense. The Trojans lead the CVAC in goals scored per game, while the Royals have the lowest goals against average.

Mount Olive has advanced past the first round for the first time since 1996, when the Trojans were the No. 3 seed and won their semifinal round match before falling in the championship game -- against Queens.

History notwithstanding, Riggs expects his squad to show the same effort Saturday it showed in the first round win over Barton.

"I always believe that if you work hard, good things will happen and that's what we did against Barton," said Riggs. "I just want our guys to play with pride, play with heart and have a lot of fun. It should be a great game."

Trojan runners head for NCAA regional

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive continues its 2004 cross country season as the Trojans compete in the NCAA Division II Men's and Women's Cross Country Southeast Regional Championship Saturday at Wingate. The regional is hosted by Wingate University.

Tim Insley, a junior out of Goldsboro and a graduate of Eastern Wayne High School, earned All-Conference honorable mention last week at the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Championship with a top 15 finish.

"I was pleased with Tim's performance at the conference championship and I'm looking forward to his performance at regionals," said second-year head cross country coach Jennifer Lancaster. "He took 1 1/2 minutes off his time from last year's conference championship and I think that will give him confidence going into Saturday's regional.

Insley has been the Trojans' top finisher in every meet this year with his best finish coming in a tri-meet on October 14. Insley finished first out of 14 runners to lead the Trojans to a first-place finish at the Methodist College Triangular Meet. Also running for the Trojans are the senior trio of Fernando Crisosto, Christof Franzsen, and Alan Fricks, along with freshman Kris Exum.

For the women, Spring Creek graduate Tamika Goff was Mount Olive's top finisher at the CVAC championship, followed closely by senior teammate Becky Garrod, a top runner for the Trojans throughout the season. Garrod was the Trojans' top finisher in each regular season meet, including a second-place finish at the Methodist College Triangular Meet. Charlene Spadaccini, the women's team's lone returning runner from last year, also had her top finish of the year at the tri-meet, placing third behind Garrod. Rounding out the women's team are sophomore and Charles B. Aycock graduate Jillian Pruett and freshman Nicky Ross.

Thirty-eight schools are expected to compete in this year's regional championship with the top two teams in the men's and women's divisions advancing to the NCAA II Cross Country National Championship November 20 at Evansville, Ind. Along with the runners from the top two teams, the top two men's and women's individual runners earn berths in the championship. Mount Olive's men's team competed in the 2001 national championship and Beth Martin represented the Trojans in the 2002 and 2003 national championships.

"I think this will be a good experience for the team, especially for the first-year runners," said Lancaster. "It should help us grow stronger as a team and work towards competing at the regional level next year."

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