TYLER — Jacksonville has a brand new national champion all its own.
Alexia Moreira, a freshman at Tyler Junior College and a Jacksonville High School graduate, is a member of the Apache Ladies' National Junior College Athletic Association Division I national championship team.
The TJC ladies beat Monroe (New York) College, 4-1, at Orlando Health Stadium in Melbourne, Fla. in late November to claim their fourth national title in school history — TJC also won it all in 2009, 2011 and 2017.
“I'm thankful for us being able to win the national championship,” Moreira said. “But, I am also thankful for being able to play along side, and to be able to learn from players from all over the world. This experience is so much bigger for me than what you think.”
Moreira paid dividends for the Apache Ladies (22-1) this season. She played in all 23 matches and was in the starting lineup 20 times.
The tall midfielder, who is daughter of Jaime and Leticia Moreira of Jacksonville, scored two goals (one game winner), had three assists and was 1-1 on penalty kicks for TJC.
Moreira said that the entire season has been a learning experience for her and that in the end she feels like she has successfully made the adjustment from high school to collegiate soccer.
“I was super nervous coming into the program from high school,” she said. “The standard is so high (at TJC) and Coach (Corey) Rose is very demanding. We constantly work on so many of the little things in practice.”
Moreira went on to say that she had to adjust to the faster pace of the game at the college level and was challenged to think faster as well.
That transition was made easier by having so many awesome teammates surrounding Moreira.
“We have a great group of girls here, and it was easy to be one of the team,” Moreira said.
“I think when I first saw my name in the starting line up I became more confident. To be one of the few American starters really made me proud,” she recalled.
Moreira's success didn't come easy, and she vividly described a key point in the season that ended up giving her the lift that she needed for the long stretch of post season games.
“Before the match with Navarro (Nov. 3) that determined the conference championship, I looked at my stats, and I didn't like what I saw,” Moreira said. “I remember being in the locker room at halftime, with the score tied 0-0, and staring at the ball and saying to myself that I have to take a shot if I got the chance.”
At the 55:57 mark Moreira had her opportunity, and she delivered what was the Apache Ladies' first goal, as TJC went on to defeat Navarro, 2-0.
“Definitely one of my favorite memories from the season,” she said. “I kicked the ball with my left leg. That is not my strong leg, and it still went in.”
Moreira, who garnered All-Region XIV honorable mention status, mentioned that she wants to share being a national champion with Jacksonville.
“I feel that this is good for Jacksonville because it raises the bar high for all the little girls that are playing soccer here,” she said. “I see so many incredibly talented girls coming up in Jacksonville. The future is so bright here.
“I would like for each of those girls to know how much they mean to me and how I do what I do to inspire them, just like they inspire me.”
Moreira also gave credit to one of her former coaches, Jesus Ledesma, for molding her into the person that she is on and off the field and to Sissy Austin for always being a huge motivator through the years.