Clark soccer set for NWAACC semifinal match

Penguins men's soccer team faces Highline today

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 

Tenacity.

That, according to Langdon Roscoe, is the ingredient that has carried the Clark College men's soccer team to a regional title and into the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges final four.

"Tenacious," is the one-word description Roscoe used to describe his team. "No matter what's happening, we're going the full 90 minutes or 120 minutes. It doesn't matter, we're playing the whole game."

NWAACC Soccer

Men's and women's final four

Saturday and Sunday at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.

Clark men: semifinal vs. Highline, 3:30 p.m. Saturday. Winner plays for the championship at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Watch online: All matches from the NWAACC championships will be streamed live. Visit www.NWAACC.org for details.

If things go well, the Penguins will play twice this weekend. Saturday they take on the Highline Thunderbirds in a semifinal match. Win that and they will play on Sunday for Clark's third NWAACC men's soccer title. The matches will be played at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila.

Clark enters the semifinals ranked No. 2 behind Peninsula in the NWAACC coaches poll. Peninsula and third-ranked Walla Walla meet in the other semifinal.

"It's going to take a lot of work," sophomore midfielder Bryanth Garcia-Junco said. "It's going to take us being together, helping the guy on your left, helping the guy on your right and giving 100 percent for them. Because that's what we have been doing all season -- helping each other and giving 100 percent for our family."

Garcia-Junco — a native of Guatemala, and Hockinson graduate Roscoe are team captains who played prominent roles as freshman for a 2012 team that lost to Highline in the quarterfinals. The 2012 team had one sophomore lead the way — Borce Atanasov was chosen NWAACC MVP last season. He now plays for Oregon State.

The 2013 Penguins are different. This season half of the players in the regular rotation are sophomores. Defense has provided a foundation.

"Last year we had a lot of offense," Clark coach Biniam Afenegus said. "This year, I feel like we're balanced. I feel like we're a more complete team."

Led by two-time all-conference goalkeeper Jonathan Morales — and with Roscoe and freshman Abdiel Morfin of Canby, Ore, standing tall at central defender — these Penguins have posted 11 shutouts. In last weekend's 0-0 draw with Spokane, Clark won on penalty kicks with freshman John Hickey in goal to advance to the semifinals.

Another of the shutouts was a 1-0 win over Highline in September.

The offense is led by freshman Bernardino Ayala-Jimenez from Milwaukie, Ore. Ayala-Jimenez ranked second in the NWAACC in goals with 25.

"He's one of the fastest and most skilled forwards I've had here," Afenegus said.

In his seventh season at Clark, Afenegus has the Penguins in the final four for the second time. In 2007, his first season, Clark won the NWAACC title. Clark's other men's soccer championship came in 1997.

The 2013 Penguins are proud to have a shot at the school's third championship.

"I'm happy for everything we have accomplished as a group, Garcia-Junco said. "We've been working hard, so it's going to pay off."

Clark all-stars

Seven Clark men's soccer players were selected South and West Regions all-stars: Freshman forward Bernardino Ayala-Jimenez was named South Region MVP. Midfielders Juan Ayala-Jimenez, Christian Desir and Bryanth Garcia-Junco, defenders Langdon Roscoe and Abdiel Morfin, and goalkeeper Jonathan Morales were named South-West all-stars. Clark's Biniam Afenegus was named South Region coach of the year.

On the women's soccer all-star list were Clark forward Cristal Ruvalcaba and Clark defender Krista Campbell. Clark coach Rochelle Hearns shared coach of the year honors for the South Region.