Martinez helps lead Lady Apaches to NJCAA National Championship

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Perry grad Natalie Martinez (front, second from right) celebrates with her Tyler (Tex.) Junior College teammates after the Lady Apaches won the NJCAA National Championship Saturday. Photo submitted.


MELBOURNE, Fla. — Perry’s Natalie Martinez assisted on two goals and scored once in helping lead Tyler (Tex.) Junior College to a 4-1 victory over Monroe (New York) JC in Saturday’s National Championship match. The tourney was held at Orlando Health Stadium on the campus of Eastern Florida State College.

Tyler (22-1) avenged a loss in the 2018 title match to Monroe, who had also won the crown in 2014. It was the fourth title for the Lady Apaches, who were champions in 2009, 2011 and 2017 as well, all under head coach Corey Rose. The team has been the runner-up three times.

The Lady Apaches cemented their position as the dominant NJCAA women’s soccer program. Tyler is a combined 200-20-7 in the past decade, a clip that does not include their undefeated 2009 title run.

Tyler defeated the hosts, 2-1, Friday to earn their shot at avenging their 2018 title loss to the Mustangs, whose main campus is in the Bronx.

Martinez assisted on Mukarama Abdulai’s goal at at the 7:47 mark of the championship match to give Tyler a 1-0 lead. The Mustangs managed to tie the score, but Martinez assisted on Abdulai’s second score, at 56:37, to give the Lady Apaches the lead for good.

Abdulai returned the favor, sending a crossing pass that Martinez buried into the back of the Mustang net for a 3-1 Tyler lead at the 59:22 mark. A late goal cemented the margin of victory.

Martinez, a 2019 Perry graduate, appeared in all 23 games for the Lady Apaches. The midfielder started 17 matches and finished with eight goals and eight assists, with three of her scores the game-winning strike.

She scored 24 goals as a prep senior and was named an All-State choice. Martinez is Perry’s career scoring leader with 93 goals.

Now she can add “National Champion” to her resume.

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