PRESCOTT-The Yavapai College Roughriders men’s soccer team received new life and is back on the hunt for a championship following the disqualification of Phoenix and Pima for unsportsmanlike conduct according to Yavapai College's Athletic Director Brad Clifford in a phone interview with E News on Tuesday.
"This morning about 10:30 or 10:45, somewhere around there, I got a phone call from our region director," Clifford said. "He mentioned something about the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association), which is our parent organization, saying that those two teams would not be eligible to compete any further and it had to do with some sportsmanship issues."
While the cause of the unsportsmanlike issues could not be confirmed, Clifford said Yavapai College was awarded the option to represent the region due to winning the conference championship this season and beating Arizona Western College in their only meeting.
It was an opportunity to good to pass up for the Roughriders.
"I didn't even think twice," Clifford said. "I was just kind of excited and said yea we'll absolutely take the place and give our shot at it."
Clifford mentioned head coach Michael Pantalione, who was also thrilled about the opportunity, met his players in the parking lot to deliver the good news on Tuesday morning as Clifford watched from his office window the enthusiasm of the players who just five days ago thought their season was over after the loss to Phoenix College.
"I could tell when he told them that we were in the playoffs," Clifford said. "The team just went crazy, hugging each other, throwing food in the air. They were ecstatic. It was a joyous time obviously."
The Roughriders, who are ranked #11 in the country, have quite a journey in front of them as Clifford said they must travel to Cheyenne, Wyoming in the next two days to arrive in time for their matchup against the #16 ranked Trinidad State Junior College on Friday at 3pm Arizona time. The winner of the matchup along with the winner of the Laramie County Community College/Southern Nevada College game will take on each other on Saturday in Tyler, Texas for the District Championship and a berth in the NJCAA National Tournament.
"I just can't say enough about the way we conduct ourselves and the way Mike teaches his team to conduct themselves win or lose," Clifford said. "Now we are getting the opportunity to take the next step and get to the National Tournament."
*Prescott eNews hopes to have more information regarding the disqualification of Pima and Phoenix on Wednesday.*