Anthony Asante, Monroe's star striker, scored in the semi-final (Photo courtesy of Monroe College)
In its most successful season ever, Monroe College's men's soccer team came within two games of winning the NJCAA Division 1 Nationals.
At the tournment in Tyler, Texas, in mid-November, the second-seeded Monroe Mustangs won their first game against Otero Junior College (CO), before going down in the semi-final to Cinncinatti State, 2-1, in double over-time.
"We lost to a deep and classy team," Coach Marcus Dibernardo told the Monroe Mustangs website. "Yes, it doesn't feel very good now, but soon we'll realize that we had a great season."
Monroe then lost the third-place playoff game, leaving them with an end of season record of 19-2.
According to Dibernardo, the team is stacked with talent, and its success raises the bar for all future Monroe soccer teams. But as well as shining on the field, the players worked hard work and showed character and discipline off it.
"We set out every year to win the national championship," Dibernardo said in a telephone interview. "But education is first, getting their degrees is first. Then the sport."
Dibernardo and his team are already looking forward to next season.
"We wish we could start tomorrow," he said.
Monroe advanced to the nationals after winning the NJCAA Northeast Divison 1 District Championship in Massachusetts earlier in the month.