April 5, 2009
SCOOBA -- Junior Noel is looking for some immediate assistance to help him bring the East Mississippi Community College men''s soccer program out of the "doldrums."
The EMCC coach found two players Friday who will help him accomplish that goal.
Caledonia High School''s Taylor Chisolm and Starkville High''s Eduardo Fumo signed national letter of intents to join a program that went 1-12-1 last season in Noel''s second year as coach.
This year, Noel is confident Chisolm and Fumo will be part of a class of 11 newcomers that will help the Lions reverse their fortunes.
"They have been standouts at their schools the last couple of years," Noel said. "They are well-rounded individuals. I think they are going to come in immediately and bring a lot to our program. With kids like those two, I think we are on the right track."
Noel, who played professionally in Virginia, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Mississippi, was a member of the Trinidad and Tobago National Team as a high schooler. His goal is to bring a high level of soccer to EMCC.
"The program has been in the doldrums for quite a while," Noel said. "We really, really need players who can come in right away and make an impact. ... These two, as well as the others I have added to the program, can give us that."
Chisolm and Fumo will give the Lions a devastating ability to finish.
Chisolm set a school record for goals in a season (28) and added 14 assists earlier this year and helped lead the Confederates (school-best 14-5 record) to the Class 4A North Half title game. The forward had five goals in a victory against New Albany in the state playoffs.
He will cap his prep career in the 2009 Mississippi Association of Coaches All-Star Soccer Game on June 13 in Raymond.
As a junior, Chisolm was selected All-District Class 4A by the area coaches and was voted Team MVP and the team''s best offensive player after scoring 23 goals.
He said the fact that his brothers played soccer at EMCC factored into his choice to go to school in Scooba.
"It''s kind of a tradition thing," Chisolm said. "I have heard a lot of good things about coach Noel, and I figured he would be a good guy to learn from."
Chisolm talked with former Caledonia High players Wyatt and Aaron Jenkins. Both players were sophomores on the EMCC men''s soccer team, and both gave Chisolm fine reports about Noel and his desire to transform the program.
Chisolm likely will get an opportunity to help the Lions at forward. The speedy striker teamed up top with Seth Wood, another EMCC signee, to give the Confederates a potent one-two punch.
The chance to play with Fumo, who scored 14 goals in just eight games this season at Starkville, creates a very dangerous scoring threat.
Chisolm knows he will attract a lot of attention from defenses, but he said he is ready to step up to a faster and more physical brand of soccer.
"I think it helps with the division (Class 4A-District 4) that we played in because I was probably not on my feet most of the time," Chisolm said. "One of the things the coach from Delta State told me is I needed to put on at least 10 more pounds regardless of where I go. I am going to work on that before I come (here) and try to use my speed to keep them away from me at all times."
Chisolm also considered Delta State, the University of Mobile, and a few junior colleges in the Southern part of the state of Mississippi. He said he hopes to learn from Noel and to use the experience to go on to play soccer at a four-year school.
"I am going to have to get the step," Chisolm said. "It will be easier for me, I think, because I played select ball, which is two or three steps faster than high school. I figure (the biggest transition from high school to college soccer) will be about getting the step and getting used to the pace of the game."
Fumo also was a member of the boys basketball team at Starkville High. He said he will miss playing basketball but is excited about the opportunity to focus on one sport.
Like Chisolm, Fumo said he heard good things about Noel that helped him make his decision. He said he spoke with former Starkville High player Josh Shields and Leonardo Reyes, who were players on the men''s soccer team this season, and they helped convince him Scooba was the place for him.
"It was a good choice for me," said Fumo, who also received a scholarship offer from Itawamba C.C. "I know the games are going to be more physical and they''re going to be faster and better. I am getting ready for that. It is going to be hard, but I am prepared for it. I have been thinking about all of that stuff, and I know they''re going to play harder and more physical. I am going to have to play on and do what I do."
Noel, who also coaches the women''s soccer team, is excited about getting started later this year. He said he is still adding pieces to the puzzle and hopes everyone will be united to get the program back on track.
"This is the most optimistic I have been, particularly with the guys we have coming in," Noel said. "They can play, they have experience, they have done well for their respective schools, and each of the players I have spoken with is really, really excited to get the program going forward."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.