Graduation has not happened in Mobile, but some of the area’s top high school soccer players are already transitioning to the next level.
Njandagizi “KC” Espoir and Amos Ndikumana of Murphy High School and Matt Merrill of Mary G. Montgomery High School are names of note in Mobile soccer circles. This Sunday they join AFC Mobile in the Gulf Coast Premier League before graduating school the following Friday, and beginning their transition to college soccer.
At Mary G. Montgomery High School, Merrill finished his senior year with 15 goals and 4 assists. Starting this fall, he will play college soccer for the University of Mobile.
Merrill said he became aware of AFC Mobile when coach Nate Nicholas discussed the team with him in the spring.
“As soon as my high school season was over I tried out,” Merrill said.
The level of play in the GCPL, a US Soccer Federation-sanctioned elite league, has Merrill motivated.
“I’m excited about the high level of competition and getting to know new teammates,” Merrill said.
Over at Murphy High School, KC Espoir accounted for 18 goals and 5 assists in 2017. He committed to play his college soccer at William Carey University in Mississippi. A dominant force for the Panthers, he quickly pointed out that he too is eager for the higher quality of the GCPL and AFC Mobile, and enthusiastic to have high-level soccer back in the Port City.
“[The GCPL] is more technical, more physical, and much faster [than high school soccer],” he said. “I’m excited for Mobile to finally have a team…and the timing is great, since I just finished my time in high school.”
Amos Ndikumana, another member of the first Murphy squad to make the AHSAA playoffs since 2013, will join AFC Mobile for its debut match. Ndikumana finished his senior season with 10 goals and 8 assists. During his high school season, Ndikumana was named Alabama High School Player of the Week by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He will join Espoir at William Carey University in the fall.
“I’m very happy to have [KC] with me on AFCM; we play well together and seem to know what the other one is thinking,” Ndikumana said. “It’s exciting to get to play with him a few more times.”
His family is also thrilled for the opportunity that both AFC Mobile and soccer have brought him,
“[My family] is very excited for me,” he said. “They told me to keep working hard and to have faith that everything will work out for my future.”
Merrill, Espoir and Ndikumana will have the opportunity to compete with several players with professional and semi-professional experience for a spot in the starting lineup for AFC Mobile.
The season begins this Sunday, May 14 at 7:00 PM at the Archbishop Lipscomb Athletic Complex. Tickets start at $5 and season tickets may be purchased for $20 at www.afcmobile.net.