UWA men’s soccer No. 2 seed in South Regional

INDIANAPOLIS – After winning the Gulf South Conference regular season and tournament championships, the West Alabama Tigers are not done hunting for accolades after being selected as the No. 2 seed in NCAA South Regional.

UWA (15-2-1) will travel to face the No. 3 seeded Tampa Spartans in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday, Nov. 12 starting at 12 p.m. locally. The Spartans come in after defeating Rollins 2-1 in the Sunshine State Conference Tournament Championship to earn an automatic bid.

“Delighted to be here at this stage at the season and still be playing shows that you’ve had a successful year in the toughest region in the nation,” said Head coach Matthew Thorne. “We’re confident we compete with anyone and I look forward battling Tampa. I’m proud of these guys for what they’ve done so far, but we’ve got a lot more to do this season.”

Despite being the higher seed, The Tigers will have to win in Tampa’s home stadium. However, Thorne is proud of reaching the post-season and reaching new highest for UWA Men’s Soccer.

“The No. 2 seed is great to see. It shows how far we’ve come as a program,” said Thorne. “It’s the highest seed we’ve ever had and we’re looking forward to going down to Tampa and pusing forward with the win.”

Palm Beach Atlantic earned the top seed and will face No. 4 seed Lynn on this side of the regional bracket.

Two to six teams were selected from each of the eight regions.  Teams from the same region will be paired for first- and/or second-round competition, which will be conducted November 9-12 on campus sites.  Third-round/quarterfinals will be held on campus sites and completed by November 19. The semifinals and final will be played November 30 and December 2 at Children’s Mercy Victory Field at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Missouri, hosted by Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association, Rockhurst University and Kansas City Sports Commission.

UWA soccer wins GSC title on penalty kicks

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – For the fourth year in a row, the West Alabama Tigers have captured the Gulf South Conference Men’s Soccer Championship crown. This time the win comes over the University of Alabama -Huntsville 1-1 (5-4) in penalty kicks on Sunday at the Emory Folmar YMCA Soccer Complex.

UWA’s record moves to 15-2-1 overall after advancing on penalty kicks. UAH most likely ends the season at 9-6-3.

“No matter what happened there today, we never broke,” said UWA Head coach Matthew Thorne. “. Getting 1-0 down to a quality UAH, they caused all sorts of problems. We stepped up. Even on the penalties, we really believed no matter what situation we were going to win. Credit to all those seniors and credit to all those players not just on the field, but on the squad.”

In the penalty kick portion, the Tigers had goals from Keegan McQueen, Jamie Cox, Alvaro Macias, Jean-Baptiste Meyniel and finally Harrison Roberts. Brad Louis blocked the shot of Tucker Watts to give UWA the edge needed for victory.

UAH found the back of the net first at the 30:28 mark when Clennett Guy scored on an assist from Khalil Bell.

It would take over 30 more minutes for UWA to find the back of the net, but the freshman Cole Webster scored his third goal of the year off an assist from Gaspard Voituriez-Donnelly with 69:22 remaining in regulation.

Both teams played each other evenly in the physical matchup as UWA and UAH both finished with three shots-on-goal throughout the match.

Meyniel was named GSC Men’s Soccer Championship MVP and Louis, Cox and Roberts were named to the All-Tournament team.

The Tigers advance to the NCAA South Regional due to claiming the GSC’s automatic berth with the tournament championship victory. The NCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Tournament Selection Show is Monday at 5:30 p.m. and there the Tigers will discover their next destination.

Pride, Headley earn preseason All-Conference team bids

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – TeMia Pride and Aleah Headley have been named to the 2017 Gulf South Conference Women’s Soccer Preseason All-GSC Team in an announcement on Thursday. West Alabama is ranked fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll.
Pride, a forward from Huntsville, Alabama, returns to the Tiger attack after a standout freshman campaign in 2016. The Tigers’ striker led the team in goals (13), game-winners (4), points (28), shots (71) and shots-on-goal (42). Pride’s offensive stats also rank in the top five across the GSC, earning the rising sophomore a First Team All-Conference nod.
Headley, a midfielder hailing from Tilbury, England, was also awarded a spot on the preseason All-GSC squad after leading UWA in the middle third of the pitch a season ago. Headley transitioned from defender to attacker, dispossessing opponents and setting up the UWA attack.
Defending league champion West Florida was picked to repeat their success in 2017, receiving 12-of-14 first-place votes and 168 points. Lee grabbed the remaining two first-place votes, following the Argos with 155 points.
Mississippi College (141) and North Alabama (129) sit third and fourth in the poll, while West Alabama (121) rounds out the top five.
Incoming Tiger defenders Brianna Forrest and Lexi Pund were selected as two of the GSC’s Top Newcomers for the 2017 season. Forrest, a Canadian transplant, is a two-time Most Valuable Player and Student Athlete of the Year at St. Stephens’ Catholic in Bowmanville, Ontario.
Pund, a native of Tupelo, Mississippi, took home First Team All-Area and Offensive MVP honors in 2016, netting 26 goals for Tupelo High School.
West Alabama opens the 2017 season under the lights at Tiger Stadium, facing off against South Atlantic Conference co-champions Tusculum College on Sept. 1, at 7 p.m.

Demopolis Elite, UWA teams holding Soccer Fest Sunday

The University of West Alabama men’s and women’s soccer programs are teaming with Demopolis Elite for a special event. The entities will pair for Soccer Fest and a training session Sunday from 3-5 p.m. at the Demopolis Sports-Plex.

The event is open to children ages five and up and is free of charge.

Four Tigers names preseason All-GSC, UWA is league favorite

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Four West Alabama student-athletes were selected to the 2017 Gulf South Conference Men’s Soccer Preseason All-GSC Team as Jack Shiels, Jamie Cox, Harrison Roberts and Liam Ireland each received the honor on Wednesday. The Tigers were voted preseason favorites by league coaches.

Shiels, hailing from Manchester, England, and Cox, a native of Sallins, Ireland, both return to bolster one of the toughest defensive units in the GSC. The two defenders helped anchor a backline that held opponents to the league’s second-fewest goals allowed (23) and goals-against-average (1.21) in 2016.

Ireland and Roberts return to the midfield after helping the UWA attack post the GSC’s second-highest scoring margin (1.05) in 2016, outscoring opponents 43-23 through 19 matches. Ireland netted four goals (two of which were good for game-winners) while dishing out seven assists, and Roberts tallied five goals and four helpers from the middle of the pitch.

West Alabama, coming off of its third consecutive GSC Tournament Title in 2016, received six first-place votes and 93 overall points, edging out West Florida as the league favorites for 2017. The Argos grabbed four first-place votes and 90 points in the poll.

Mississippi College, the 2016 GSC Regular Season Champion, received one first-place vote and 86 total points, landing third in the preseason rankings. Montevallo (60 points), who returns to the conference after nine seasons in the Peach Belt Conference, and Lee (59 points) complete the preseason top five.

International transfers Kyle McLeod (Montrose, Scotland) and Ali Brador (Ronchin, France) were selected as two of the GSC’s Top Newcomers, filling in vacancies in the Tiger attack as two of UWA’s newest forwards.

West Alabama will officially kick-off the 2017 season at Union (Tenn.) in a non-conference road contest set for Aug. 31 at 7:15 p.m. The Tigers will open the home portion of the schedule against Mobile on Sept. 4. Kickoff at Tiger Stadium is slated for 7 p.m.

Demopolis boys soccer routs Central

The Demopolis High School boys soccer team (2-2, 2-0) routed area foe Central-Tuscaloosa 11-2 in a home match Tuesday night.

Demopolis tallied 34 shots on goal in the effort, an outing that included a four-goal performance from Alex Maryville. Clay McVay and Joseph Barnes added two goals each. Tyler Pipkins, Matthew Foxhole and Red Bennett had one goal apiece.

Demopolis is set to have its next home game April 13 against Holt before hosting Pelham April 14.

Demopolis High juniors win soccer state title

Zachary Chu and Alex Maravilla, juniors at Demopolis High School, won the U18 Division II state championship with the Birmingham United Soccer Association earlier this month.

Zachary Chu and Alex Maravilla, juniors at Demopolis High School, won the U18 Division II state championship with the Birmingham United Soccer Association earlier this month.

Demopolis High School juniors Zachary Chu and Alex Maravilla put the wraps on a successful club soccer season Nov. 13 as they helped Birmingham United Soccer Association (BUSA) win the U18 Division II state championship in a thriller over Wiregrass.

BUSA, which finished with a 10-1-1 record on the season, downed Wiregrass on penalty kicks after rallying from an early deficit.

“The championship was actually special because we were losing 2-0 at halftime and one of our players got kicked out. We were playing a man down and we rallied in the second half and came back,” Chu said of the victory, which also avenged BUSA’s only loss of the season. “We went into overtime and had a penalty kick shootout.”

14991973_583316321861050_6913111793444267907_n“It was definitely exhilarating knowing that you were down 2-0 without a man. You somewhat lose hope, but then you think about ‘this is your last chance before the season could possibly end’ and you just all push together to win the game,” Maravilla said. “And it was definitely exhilarating winning the game on a PK and our goalie saved the last goal which was really cool.”

The club soccer experience allowed the Demopolis players to compete with athletes from around the state as the league featured teams from Tuscaloosa, Arab, Enterprise and Montgomery among others.

“It was completely different from high school,” Maravilla, who played both midfielder and center back, said of his first impressions of the club soccer scene. “I met people that were equally as skilled as me and some even better than me, which helps me improve my skill. I just didn’t think I would be able to compete with these people, but in actuality, I could. It surprised me. It made me a better person and made me practice harder to get to the same skill level as the people that were higher than me.”

Maravilla explained that his involvement with BUSA stemmed from Chu’s recommendation and prompted him to challenge himself in new ways.

“I eventually came to the decision that I would play and it was a pretty good decision because it was definitely an amazing season,” Maravilla said before contrasting the benefit of club soccer with an offseason in which he would ordinarily not spend much time working at the game. “I would really not do much. Last year, after soccer season was over, I would just sit around the house and, maybe every once in a while, go to the SportsPlex and just kick the ball around with some friends. That was really it. I didn’t really do anything else.”

For Chu, the BUSA season marked an opportunity to contribute much more than in his first go-round with the organization.

“It’s the same playing speed and then I was able to score more and assist more and contribute more than I used to on the team,” Chu said. “It was easier than it would’ve been last year. It was just a better experience.”

Chu and Maravilla were members of the 2016 Demopolis High School soccer team. Chu has received an invitation to play for Alabama Elite in the spring, which would allow him to compete in various showcases.

Photo of the Day

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5-7-2016 – DHS Principal Chris Tangle attempts to calm a less-than-pleased crowd as the officials make their exit after the Tiger boys soccer team lost to Helena.

Tigers fall in gutsy third round performance

5-7-2016 - Demopolis, Ala. - Adam Brooker has to use a little more than finesse to work to gain possession against Helena.

5-7-2016 – Demopolis, Ala. – Adam Brooker has to use a little more than finesse to work to gain possession against Helena.

Demopolis (14-3) saw its season come to an abrupt and dejecting end in the third round of the Class 4A-5A state playoffs Saturday with a 2-1 overtime loss to Helena.

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5-7-2016 – Demopolis, Ala. – James Woods takes some contact but still makes the save against Helena.

The Tigers played a man down for the final 36:42 of regulation and all of the overtime period after one of its starters picked up his second yellow card of the match.

“I’ve been coaching for a good little while now and I’ve never been prouder of a team whose backs were put up against a wall from the beginning of the game and the only thing they could do was fight and that’s what they did for the remainder of the game,” Demopolis coach Bert Rice said. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of them, how much I appreciate them and the work that they put in.”

With 1:41 remaining on the overtime clock, a call just outside the box gave Helena a free kick. Jason Nichols shot it low to right side of the goal just beyond the wall of Demopolis defensemen and into the net for the win.

“We can’t control what the referees do. I didn’t like the call. I don’t think anybody else liked the call. But they made it and there’s nothing we can do about it. I hate that it did come down to an official’s decision and not left out on the field,” Rice said. “But that’s something we’ve got to live with. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’re just going to have to swallow it and move on.”

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5-7-2016 – Demopolis, Ala. – Tony Velez attempts to free himself to control the ball against Helena.

Despite playing a man down, the Tigers climbed out of a 1-0 hole with 32:48 to play when Adam Brooker headed the ball out of traffic around midfield and to a streaking Cristian Velez, who banged it in to tie the game.

“When you have that many cards early, you can’t play the game like you want to. But I told them it was out of our control and we had to control the things that we can control. We just had to get after it and I think that they displayed the kind of character that I think any coach would want them to show. I’m extremely proud of them and I couldn’t have asked for a better season,” Rice, whose team had seven yellow cards in the game as compared to Helena’s two, said. “This has been an incredible year. I think they showed up prepared to win. I think they’re mindset was coming out here and taking care of business and it has been for the entire year. That’s why it makes you sore to see it end like that. This team has given valiant efforts every time they’ve taken the field. As a coach, you can’t ask anymore than that. I told them to walk off the field with their heads high and to be proud because they should be. Not many people get put in that type of situation and are able to survive it, much less prosper from it and prolong the game and gave us a shot. They gave us a shot the whole game and I just hate it came down to that.”

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5-7-2016 – Demopolis, Ala. – Smit Patel pushes the ball upfield against Helena.

The first goal of the contest came with 31:01 to play in the first half when Brennen Brown launched a free kick up to Jeremy Hughes, who headed it in for the 1-0 lead.

The Tigers took 15 shots in the game, 10 of which came in the second half while they were playing a man down. Helena took 17 shots on the evening. Demopolis goalie James Woods recorded seven saves for the Tigers.

The game marked the final contest for the senior quintet of Woods, Brooker, Velez, Smit Patel and Nick Helms.

“James is one of the most pleasant, hard-working kids you will ever be around in your life. James Woods has meant the world to me. He’s a great kid and he’s a great goalie and he’s a fun kid to coach. Tony has the most ability out of any kid that I’ve ever been around. He’s capable of doing anything he wants to do from here on out. I know that he’ll accomplish great things,” Rice said, reflecting upon his senior class.

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5-7-2016 – Demopolis, Ala. – Zachary Chu finds himself the center of the attention of several Helena players.

“Adam going on to UAB, he’s got a lot of soccer ahead of him and we’re excited for him about that. I don’t have to talk stats. He’s the best player in the state in my eyes. I hate to see him walk off the field the last time. I do, because he is a heck of a kid. Nick Helms, it was his first year playing soccer and he brought a personality to our team that a lot of times kept our head above water. And I don’t think he’ll ever know how much I appreciate him for that. Smit Patel is a great human being. He’s a great kid. Works hard every day. He’s got the same type of personality. He’s going to pick everybody up. The kids all love each other; especially these seniors loved everybody. They were fun to coach and the effort they put in was phenomenal. I appreciate every one of them.”

DEMOPOLIS 2016 GOAL TALLY

Adam Brooker – 42

Cristian Velez – 25

Zachary Chu – 17

Clay McVay – 6

Alex Maravilla – 6

Smit Patel – 3

Patrick Rosales – 2

Tyler Pipkins – 2

Joseph Barnes – 2

Ashley Dunn – 1

J.C. McVay – 1

Hugo Galvan – 1

Jaylen Wilson – 1

Matt Beckum – 1

Nick Helms – 1

James Woods – 1

Demopolis shuts out Marbury to move to third round

MARBURY — Demopolis (14-2) took a while to find its rhythm Tuesday but rallied behind an Adam Brooker hat trick to beat Marbury 5-0 in the second round of the Class 4A-5A state playoffs.

“There’s a lot of different aspects that change from game to game and even more so in the playoffs from round to round,” Demopolis coach Bert Rice said. “I think it takes us playing. We get out there and get a feel of things and once we get a feel and we’re on, we’re pretty dang good. It does take a minute to find the groove. But I think that’s in any sport.”

The teams were scoreless until 25:02 to go in the first half when Brooker attacked from the left side and banged a shot inside the back post to put Demopolis up 1-0. The scored stayed there until 2:41 to play in the first half when Cristian Velez worked his way down the left side and put a shot in to stretch the lead to 2-0.

The game saw each team with numerous opportunities in the first half as Demopolis took 15 shots on goal and Marbury launched 11 of its own. James Woods proved extremely effective for the Tigers, saving nine shots on the night including a pair of fingertip efforts amid a cluttered box to preserve the shutout.

“James is one of the most consistent players I’ve ever had in any sport I’ve coached,” Rice said of his goalie. “He shows up ready to go every time and he got us out of a few sticky situations tonight. His arm and leg really helped us out too.”

Marbury keeper Bo Stinard was staunch in his own right, recording 13 saves on the night and keeping his team in the game until the waning minutes.

Brooker took advantage of a free kick with 36:36 to go in the contest when he boomed a shot from the right side to up the lead to 3-0.

“The crazy thing about soccer is there ain’t nothing you can do for a free kick. It’s the player versus the goalie and tonight Adam came up on the better end,” Rice said. “He isn’t a Division I player for nothing. He’s the best player I’ve seen in the state this year and we’ve watched quite a few teams play. He’s impressive and that shot was definitely impressive.”

With 23:19 to go, Brooker blasted what seemed like the proverbial death knell from 35 yards out when he went over the Marbury defense and into the top left corner for the 4-0 lead.

Zachary Chu beat the Marbury keeper left on a penalty kick with 6:39 to play to set the score at its final mark.

Demopolis took 25 shots in the game while Marbury took 17.

The win advances the Tigers to the third round Saturday when it will host Helena, who beat G.W. Carver-Birmingham 10-0 Tuesday.

“At this point, there are no bad teams. They’re going to be prepared. They’re going to be well-coached. They were No. 1 in the state for the better part of the season,” Rice said of Helena. “They played against really, really good competition and fared pretty well. I think we’re going to have to come out and play our best game and, if we do that, everything else will take care of itself.”

AHSAA.com currently lists that game with a 7 p.m. start time.

DEMOPOLIS 2016 GOAL TALLY

Adam Brooker – 42

Cristian Velez – 24

Zachary Chu – 17

Clay McVay – 6

Alex Maravilla – 6

Smit Patel – 3

Patrick Rosales – 2

Tyler Pipkins – 2

Joseph Barnes – 2

Ashley Dunn – 1

J.C. McVay – 1

Hugo Galvan – 1

Jaylen Wilson – 1

Matt Beckum – 1

Nick Helms – 1

James Woods – 1