PHCC, SRSC prepare for national soccer championships

December 7, 2014
Virginia to host first NJCAA national tourney in 2015
Sunday, December 7, 2014

By CHRIS PRIDE – Bulletin Sports Writer

In three short years, the Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) soccer program has gained national attention.

The strides made by the men’s team this fall helped the school earn a nomination last spring to host the 2015 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I men’s soccer championships at the Smith River Sports Complex (SRSC).On Friday, officials representing the college, sports complex, the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), and tournament sponsor Bassett Furniture unveiled the logo for the Nov. 16-21 tournament.“It’s a top honor to host a national championship, and it helps put Patrick Henry Community College on the national map,” said Chris Parker, PHCC Senior Athletic Administrator. “It gives people a national understanding of who we are and what our vision is and how athletics plays a part in our community’s college.”It will be the first time that a junior college in Virginia has hosted a national championship event, noted Parker. Only one other time has a school in Region X — which encompasses Virginia and the Carolinas — hosted a national tournament in any sport.The Patriots’ men’s soccer team garnered a No. 17 national ranking late in the season, finishing 15-5. It had a handful of players make the All Region team, including the conference’s player of the year, Bassett High School graduate Daniel Maldonado. The sophomore striker, who also earned a national player of the week designation, led the team with 19 goals on the way to being named to the second team NJCAA All America team.Hoping to continue the success of this past season, head coach Enda Crehan said he hoped his team will make a run to the national tournament next year as the host. While he would like to see the host get an automatic bid as one of the 12 teams in the tourney, he also said he would like to see his team earn its spot like everyone else.The challenge is to keep up the high level of commitment the other established national programs have developed over the decades.“We have to maintain the same level of commitment on the field and in recruiting efforts,” he said. “We had incredible commitment from our guys this season, and the results showed. We’ll give it an even stronger go next year to be that fairy tale story.”Crehan traveled with SRSC Director of Operations Billy Russo to Prescott, Ariz. three weeks ago to catch the 2014 tournament hosted by perennial power Yavapai College. Russo said next year’s tournament at the sports complex should be even better because everything will be at one location; in Arizona the tournament was split between two venues.The SRSC has two all-weather playing surfaces, lights, sizable stadium seating, extra practice fields, concessions, bathrooms and a hospitality room. The facility has hosted large regional sporting events, but this will be the first time on a national stage.“It takes time to build up something at a new facility,” said Russo, “especially in an area that has never hosted anything besides NASCAR — sporting wise — before, nationally.”“The selection committee came out and viewed the facility before even awarding the host site,” Parker said. “From a national perspective it fit, and we knew then that we had a chance to get a bid and realistically get the chance to host. It’s a community’s facility and a community’s college, and we knew by working together we could make this happen.”“This will be the second-biggest sporting event — besides the race — as far as sheer number of people and revenue,” Russo added.More than 120 hotel rooms over five nights have been reserved for the 12 tournament teams alone. Additional rooms are expected to be booked for fans, families, and scouts.Those lodging bookings are expected to generate $50,000 for the area’s inns, and the tournament will bring about $1 million of revenue overall to the region, according to Jennifer Doss, Martinsville-Henry County Director of Tourism. She did not explain her projection.The tournament should continue to push the sport’s popularity and growth, Crehan said. It will give local fans the opportunity to see and enjoy quality collegiate soccer at the national level. He hopes it will encourage players in youth programs to continue and aim to play college soccer at PHCC or elsewhere.

Filed under: Men's Soccer