Parkland men’s and women’s soccer teams both make nationals

Peter Floess

Staff Writer

Both Cobra soccer teams earned their way into their respective national tournaments earlier this month, and while they weren’t able to bring home the titles the season was not without camaraderie and hard-fought wins.

Cobra men’s soccer battled their way to the NJCAA Division I National Tournament in Tyler, Texas. They finished sixth place with an overall win-loss season record of 21–2.

Men’s soccer Coach Mark Sikora believes the season was historic, saying the season’s finale “at the National Tournament was truly magical.”

“Overall the whole season has been one [of my] favorites in my coaching career and it has little to do with the team’s record,” Sikora said. “Meeting and working with this group of young men has been the highlight. Each one gave their all for the program and for the college and I could not be prouder.”

Sikora says some of the most memorable games of the year were against Lewis and Clark on Oct. 15—which the Cobras won 4–3—and the first game they played at the national tourney against San Jacinto, again which they emerged the victor, 2–1.

The team “became more like family” as the season progressed, says player John Pugh. Pugh believes that becoming more closely-knit and in-tune was the reason the team did well this year. He says they “played for each other.”

“My favorite memory of the season is winning in the district final to qualify for nationals,” Pugh said. “It is what we worked for the whole season and even when everyone probably had written us off, we overcame all expectations.”

PARKLAND WOMEN’S SOCCER

2016 also saw women’s soccer come in fifth place at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament in Melbourne, Fla. The team had overall win-loss season record of 18–2.

The 2016 season was the best season Parkland’s women’s soccer team “has ever had,” says Coach Christopher Jackson.

“We started the season strong and we kept that going with only [one] real bump in the road, losing 3–0 to a very strong Monroe [Community College] side. Really that loss was good for us and brought us back to earth and prepared us for an incredible run to the national tournament,” Jackson said.

He says his team was “incredibly skilled and mature,” qualities which continually developed throughout the course of the season.

“…[T]here was natural progression of that over the season, but the biggest change was in mentality and attitude. We really grew in belief and every player believed in their role. We took everything personally and grew emotionally invested in everything we did,” he said.

Jackson says that the team simply reaching nationals was the “best memory of the season.”

“Qualifying for the national tournament has been this team’s dream for a long time and this year that became a reality,” he said. “Probably the two most memorable moments were winning the district final to qualify for the national tournament with a minute left in overtime; and at least for me, the penultimate game against Paradise Valley. Even though it was a loss, it was the most passionate and hard fought game I’ve ever seen a team play at any level against a top level undefeated opponent.”

Both teams’ records and player rosters for this season can be found online at parkland.edu/athletics/menssoccer.