Riverhawks men’s soccer advances to Nationals


Micah Smith

The Riverhawks beat the Prince George Community College Owls 1-0 to win the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 20 championship tournament.

Dan Elson and Micah Smith

Midfielder Nehemias Rubio showed emotion as the crowd went wild when he scored the game- winning goal in the 84th minute of the soccer match on Saturday as the Riverhawks beat the Prince George Community College Owls 1-0 to win the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 20 championship tournament.

That goal sent the Riverhawks to nationals, which begin Nov. 9, for the second year in a row.

Rubio scored on a free kick as the ball deflected off an Owl player and into the net. 

“These are the moments you live for,” Rubio, a first-year business student said. “There’s honestly no better feeling when it comes to soccer and important games like this. … We’ve trained all year for this … week in, week out, every single day. We put in the work and we trust our training and luckily the results speak for themselves.” 

The Riverhawks have gone six straight seasons with a winning regular-season record. The team finished with nine wins and four losses with a .692 win percentage—the highest since 2015. Earlier in the regional tournament, AACC, which hosted the Region 20 playoffs, beat the Allegany College of Maryland Trojans 4-1 to advance.

The national championship games will be held at Genesee Community College in New York. 

During the regional tournament, the Riverhawks faced a team they beat 2-0 earlier in the regular season.

Owls head coach Cedric Mansaray said the team had a good year despite the playoff loss.

“It was a good ride this season,” Mansaray said. “So we just got to get back to work and just prepare [for next season].”

Owls right forward Oliver Okanimba said he observed “injustice” in the game.

“I don’t think [the referee] was experienced because some of the calls he made were not professional enough,” Okanimba, a first-year computer science student, noted.

Still, Okanimba said, “We should have done better in certain areas, but we played as a team and we gave them everything.”

Riverhawks goalkeeper Edgar Garcia stopped all three shots as AACC held the Owls to no shots in the second half. 

Garcia, a third-year forensics student, said his  performance “felt good because I was able to relieve the pressure off of my defense to help them [and] get where they needed to be so I can give them the ball and continue to go forward.” 

Garcia added most of the action was at the midfield.

“It felt like not many shots were going off,” Garcia said. “It was mainly just back and forth [and] back and forth with the ball going up and down.”

Men’s head soccer coach Nick Cosentino said the players who are second-year returners “were the most successful ever” at the college.

“No sophomores have ever won two back-to-back region … champs,” Cosentino noted.

Athletic Director Duane Herr said this win is “how you want to end the Region 20 postseason. [To] come in as the No. 1 seed [and] to go out and win a championship feels really good to culminate your region tournament that way.”

Cosentino added he’s “really proud of the guys.”

“They’ve worked hard [and] they deserve it. PG was a really improved team. They’re top level and [we] got past them. I think we played a little bit better than they did.”