Men's Soccer

Hudson Valley's Season Comes To An End

CONTACT: Jeff Foley (518) 629-8085 or (518) 373-1262

FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Saturday, October 27, 2001

Vikings Tie Record For Wins In A Season
And Earn Post-Season Honors

Herkimer, N.Y., October 27, 2001 – The newest and perhaps most impressive chapter in Hudson Valley Community College's men's soccer team's storied history came to a heartbreaking close today. The Vikings, ranked fifth in the nation among NJCAA Division III Region III teams, lost 1-0 in a Region III semifinal playoff game against Mohawk Valley Community College this afternoon, bringing one of Hudson Valley's most successful campaigns to an end.

"What a nice team we had this year," said John Meehan, second-year head coach of the Vikings. "These guys all grew up a lot this year, and they realized what it's like to go from boys' soccer to men's soccer. What heart they had."

Neither Hudson Valley nor Mohawk Valley scored in regulation, or in either of the two ensuing sudden-death overtime sessions, so, after 120 minutes of soccer in frigid, snowy Herkimer, the score was tied at zero. The game then moved to a penalty-kick format (each team selected five players to take a penalty shot; whichever team made more of its five shots would be the winner). Mohawk Valley was awarded a 1-0 decision after winning the series of free kicks, 5-3.

"The bounces went our way all year," Meehan said. "It's too bad that they stopped going our way in such a big game, but I can't think of anything negative that came out of this season."

Meehan's Vikings finished the year with a 13-4 record and tied Hudson Valley's 1992 squad for the most wins in a season (Hudson Valley has fielded a varsity soccer team for the last 30 years). Mohawk Valley also is 13-4 overall and will play host Herkimer County Community College for the Region III title.

Hudson Valley, the No. 2 seed in the Region III tournament, was clearly the aggressor against third-seeded Mohawk Valley, outshooting the Hawks, 34-16, and keeping the ball in the Mohawk Valley zone for a majority of the contest. Hudson Valley had numerous scoring opportunities.

Dan DiFiore (Averill Park H.S.) had two point-blank headers in the first half that nearly got past Mohawk Valley's goalie, and Chris Mahigian (Tamarac H.S.) and Faber Kelly (Saratoga Springs H.S.) each hit the post in the second half. Mahigian had the most promising chance – a penalty kick with 26:53 remaining in the second half. His shot was just wide, though.

"We certainly had our chances," Meehan said. "Like I said, the bounces didn't go our way."

While Hudson Valley's offense peppered Mohawk Valley with shots, the Vikings' defense also played valiantly. In addition to Stan "The Wall" Kowalczyk's (Seminole H.S., FL) solid effort – he had 11 saves and, for the second time this season, kept Mohawk Valley from scoring an official goal – midfielder Joseph Davis (Ballston Spa H.S.) made a save on a corner kick with just 5:40 remaining in the first half. With Kowalczyk shielded by Mohawk Valley players, Davis stepped between the pipes and knocked a shot out with his foot to preserve the scoreless tie.

"That was huge," Meehan said. "What makes this team good are unsung heroes like Joseph Davis. He might not make All-Star teams, but he's the kind of player that makes my team so good. My guys have given that kind of effort all year. I always know they're going to protect their goal."

DiFiore, Barrett Heacoack (Holland Patent H.S.) and Jonathan Nowak (Bethlehem) each made a penalty kick for the Vikings. Kelly, Mahigian and Kowalczyk were each named to the NJCAA Division III Region III First Team. Meehan earned Region III Coach of the Year honors.

"I'd gladly trade that honor for a win here," Meehan said. "What an effort by my guys, though. There was no quit in this team. They played fantastic, and they should be so proud of their accomplishments."

In the 2000-01 academic year, Hudson Valley's athletic teams combined to win 72 percent of their contests. The ice hockey team won the NJCAA championship, the baseball team earned a berth in the NJCAA World Series and the football team won the Region III title. The women's basketball team earned a No. 1 national ranking and turned in a 24-3 record while the men's hoop squad competed in the Region III championship game. Additionally, two Vikings earned Region III Player-of-the-Year status, 20 were named All-Region III performers, and 10 were honored with All-American status.