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Jordan, Kipe are teammates at the top

December 02, 2004|by ANDY MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

Ben Jordan and Nick Kipe both are on the short list of the best athletes I've covered during my two-plus years working at this newspaper.

This past spring, Jordan batted .539 for the Williamsport baseball team and was named All-Area First Team, while Kipe was virtually untouchable in the triple jump for the Waynesboro track team and was named All-Area First Team. Last fall, Jordan and Kipe both were All-Area First Team soccer players.

Now, they are teammates for real, although Jordan still says, "It's surreal." Winning a national championship has that effect.

Jordan and Kipe were freshmen defenders this fall on the Messiah College men's soccer team, which capped its 23-2 season by beating UC Santa Cruz 4-0 for the NCAA Division III title Saturday in Greensboro, N.C.

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"It was incredible," Kipe said. "We just went crazy. We got in a big circle in the middle of the field and just started screaming and jumping."

The victory more than made up for the Maryland Class 1A state runner-up honors Jordan had to settle for in both soccer and baseball last school year.

"It's such a big thing, bigger than anything we did in high school," Jordan said. "It's such an incredible feeling. It hasn't really even sunk in yet."

Kipe, a defensive midfielder, came off the bench and played about 30 minutes in the title game, much like he did in most of Messiah's games this season. Jordan, a left back, played in 17 of the Falcons' 25 games, but he never made it off the bench in the final. That's how good the soccer team is at this small Christian school in Grantham, Pa.

Last fall, Jordan was the Tri-State's leading scorer, the All-Area Player of the Year and a Maryland All-State First Team selection as a forward, while Kipe was one of the most highly touted offensive players in the powerful Mid-Penn Conference.

"We were the big fish in a little water," said Jordan, who also was the valedictorian at Williamsport. "Everyone on this team is basically All-State from wherever they came from. It took a little time to adjust, but you just work as hard as you can and you get your chances. The goal is just to keep getting better."

Messiah, which also won national titles in 2000 and 2002, only recruits the best. That's largely why Kipe and Jordan wanted to play for the Falcons and are willing to sacrifice their other sports for the soccer cause, which takes a year-round commitment at Messiah.

"Nick had Division I track offers, but he didn't take them. ... I probably had better athletic offers for baseball, but they just didn't feel right," Jordan said. "This is the perfect fit. It's a Christian school and a high level of soccer. It's almost like a Division I program."

"Soccer. That's why I chose Messiah," said Kipe, whose brother Hylton played on the Falcons' previous two championship teams. "But we're friends first and soccer players second. It's just like having 24 brothers. You don't find that type of bond at many other schools in the nation."

I can't think of two more deserving athletes to find it.




Andy Mason is assistant sports editor of The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Thursday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2334, or by e-mail at andrewm@herald-mail.com

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