The CCBC Essex soccer program does not use its annual Knights Kickoff Classic to get the season off to a soft start.

Essex invites national powers to the Kickoff Classic and takes its lumps for a chance to open the season against elite opponents.

Last year the Knights were soundly beaten by Monroe (N.Y.) College, which went on to finish fourth in the final NJCAA Division I rankings.

On Saturday Essex took on Easter Florida State, which entered the weekend ranked fifth in the NJCAA, and lost 7-0.

The Knights bounced back on Sunday and defeated Harcum (Pa.) College 2-1.

Isaiah Price scored both goals in the Essex win. He gave the Knights an early 1-0 lead with an unassisted goal five minutes into the game, and broke a 1-1 tie in the second half off an assist from Rin Yasui.

Essex was not ranked in the preseason NJCAA Top 20, although it was mentioned in the “others receiving votes” section.

The Knights enter the season looking for their eighth straight NJCAA Region XX title, and hope to earn a bid to the NJCAA Division I men’s soccer championships for the fifth time in the past seven seasons.

The Essex roster has 14 sophomores, including Trevor Hoffman (Patapsco), Mark Mudimba (Eastern Tech), Ronald Vians (Patapsco) and Hamza Iguidre (Dundalk).

The bulk of the Knights’ players (16) are from Maryland. There are four international players: Rezon Ahmeti from England and Yasui, Daigo Adachi and Kota Tsuchizawa, all from Japan.

Joe Fielder is back for his ninth season as coach of the Knights.

Price (Bowie), led Essex with 24 goals last season. Both goalkeepers are freshmen: Jack Roby, from Oakdale High in Frederick, played the entire game against Harcum (two saves) and 62 minutes against Eastern Florida State (13 saves).

The backup is Sam Diaz, from Duval High in Lanham. He can also play forward.

Eastern Florida was both physically intimidating and skilled. The Knights had few scoring opportunities and were outshot 27-10.

The game was scoreless for the first 22 minutes. Eastern Florida led 3-0 at halftime and steadily pulled away in the second half.

Essex hosts Montgomery College on September 3. The Knights defeated the Raptors 3-2 in over time last season in the regional championship game.

Cecil College comes to Essex on September 12, and Hagerstown Community College on September 21.

The Knights travel to New York on the weekend of Sept. 28-29 to face Monroe College and Genesee Community College, then return home to host a pair of Maryland JuCo teams, CCBC Catonsville (Oct. 1) and Carroll Community College (Oct. 3).

Tough rival Frederick Community College comes to Essex on Oct. 14. The Cougars defeated the Knights during the regular season last year, but Essex downed Frederick in the region semifinals.

The NJCAA Region XX tournament is scheduled for Oct. 17 through Nov. 2 at Harford Community College. The top two finishers will advance to the North Central District tournament, with the winner getting a bid to the national tournament at Tyler (Texas) Junior College.

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