The Genesee Community College men's soccer team came from behind to win its first-ever National Junior Collegiate Athletic Association D-III men's soccer national title by beating the reigning champion and top-seed Richland College (Tx.) 2-1 at Herkimer County Community College, Nov. 12.
It was Genesee's third-overall national title and GCC President, Dr. James M. Sunser, made the sojourn to Herkimer and was on-hand when GCC Athletic Director Kristen Schuth was presented the championship plaque.
Iyad Lablack scored the game winner six minutes into the second half off a Joseph Calvert pass and then the team relied on its defense and tournament most valuable player David Ormiston to do the rest, as the Cougar keeper recorded four saves in the win.
"Dave (Ormiston) had a really great game and the defense stuck to their job," Cougars head coach Ken Gavin said immediately after the game.
After James Sasay gave the Thunderducks a 1-0 lead about 10 minutes into the game, Genesee's Charlie Livesey responded 14 minutes later to tie the game at 1-1 after Billy Murphy sent Livesey in alone on goal from the left side.
After Lablack gave the Cougars the second-half lead, the strong defensive team sat back and only allowed one shot the rest of the way, and Genesee successfully defended 16 corner kicks during the contest.
After the Cougars started the season with a 1-2 record, Coach Gavin wondered if his team was as good as he originally thought. The team answered that question by going unbeaten the rest of the campaign that culminated with the national championship win. Genesee ended its season unbeaten in its last 20 games with the last 11 being wins.
"When we were 1-2 we lost to a very good Camden team that we beat in this tournament. I think I was proven right that we weren't as good as we could be. But they started playing the system and buying into it. I think that we've scored 380 goals in three years and there's a reason we scored them. The system works if you buy into it; you can get where you need to be."
The team opened national tournament play with a 3-1 win over the Howard Community College Dragons, Nov. 9. Then followed that win with another 3-1 victory over the Camden Community College Cougars Nov. 10, before besting Richland's Thunderducks, 2-1 this afternoon. All told, Genesee slewed the Dragons, caged the Cougars and stole the thunder from the Ducks, respectively.
Asked to pick an unsung hero or two, Gavin responded, "Everybody on the bench are the unsung heroes. They pushed everybody in practice; others didn't see that. They (bench players) pushed the first-string players where they needed to be."