Volume 17 • Issue 27 | Nov. 26 - Dec. 02, 2004

Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert

Don Schuck, coach and league president, handed out trophies Sunday.

Sun sets on soccer season

By Tyler Pray

It begins when they are six, learning about the game and teamwork. Through the years they begin building close friendships and improving their soccer talents and teamwork awareness. When they reach 13, not only have they amassed a roomful of trophies, but they have also learned life skills.

Downtown Soccer League players, parents and coaches ended the season in a flurry of slippery, muddy celebrations, where each player received a trophy for their participation.

“The more experienced kids had a lot of fun and strengthened their practice while the beginners learned a lot; kids who barely touched the ball at the beginning of the season ended getting the ball and doing passes,” said Claudia Dekker, the coach of the Motherwell team. “It was great also for us coaches and parents to see the kids having so much fun, building up their character and skills.”

The youngest players, the Junior 6 division, start the season as fresh players, both eager and nervous to jump into a new environment full of other kids.

“To coach the 6 year olds is really to introduce them to team sports for the first time in their lives,” said John Griffin, coach of the Arsenal team. “To watch them evolve from individuals to members of a collective effort, not to mention hone basic ball handling skills and improve their physical coordination, in the space of 12 short weeks, is a reminder of how much they are all capable of when given the opportunity.”

Eventually, in the senior 12-13 division, games begin to look more organized with players beginning to make advanced plays and utilize each other. The games get intense, with coaches and parents yelling their support and kids huffing up and down the fields, slipping and sliding, bouncing the ball off their heads and making diving saves in the goal. As passionate as the games become, the competition always remains friendly.

Joe Bascom, a player on the 12-13 division L.A. Galaxy team, said, “I’ve been playing since I was six. It’s fun to play with and against my friends.”

His father, Tim Bascom, added, “They all started together, they all know each other, when the game’s over, they’re all friends. It’s not as competitive as the other leagues. All the kids get to play. Everyone moves forwards as a team.”

Livingston coach Tom Hughes has coached for seven years. “Each year the program seems to get better — more kids having more fun,” he said.  “The last three years especially, as the Downtown community has come together post-9/11, the restored field has become available, and more families with children have discovered the neighborhood.”

Tim Bascom agrees that the organization has come a long way in reinvigorating the Downtown community. “When the Trade Towers came down, they lost their field to the rescue workers,” he said, watching his son kick around a ball on the Battery Park City fields. “Now they’re back and the fields are beautiful. It’s good for the kids to come back and play, it shows them that life goes on.”

Kate Shore, coach of the Major 10 Sevilla team, thanked league president Don Schuck. “I’m very grateful that Don and the rest of Downtown Soccer League have worked so hard to make this possible for all our children,” she said.

The league also organized a drop-off of used soccer equipment over the weekend. They collected soccer balls, jerseys, and any other gear families donated to send to Sudan in Americare’s end of the year airlift. The league itself donated about 100 soccer balls, said Schuck.

While coaches and parents enjoyed watching their kids mature through another year of playing soccer, their kids look forward to next year for another friendly season of soccer skills and team effort.


Junior 6

West Ham defeated Everton, 2-1, on Saturday. Everton played impressive defense against the talented West Ham team. Jack McGreevy scored the first goal for West Ham and his teammate Liam Fuerst scored the second.  Everton’s Cameron Burger and Tyler Rohan were doing some good work passing and taking the ball up the side, and Julian Chow made a strong shot after West Ham put Otilia Olmedo-Young in goal, but the team was unable to score in the first half. Simon Blank, who joined mid-season and played goalie in the first half, was assisted by strong defense from Nick Winokur and Tess Adams.  Winokur was especially effective blocking shots by offensive stalwart Jack McGreevy, but Fuerst still managed to get one by.  Everton changed goalies after halftime, and the Everton sidelines cheered several good saves by Tyler Rohan. Everton’s Theo Levine played enthusiastically in the second half.  Lucy Winokur of West Ham kicked a strong shot on goal, but was blocked by twin brother Nick.  Their mom Anne had hoped for a tie, but the Olmedo-Young only allowed one goal by Everton towards the end of the well-played game. West Ham defenders Jackson Mansfield, Brandon Liu and Ciarra Reynolds played strong and followed the ball into the opponent’s territory. Olivia Lemonides, in her trademark pink suede shoes, was the last Everton player to touch the ball before West Ham accidentally knocked it into their own goal. After the game the coaches Roya and Bill Sullivan organized a breakfast at Gee Whiz, the restaurant that sponsored West Ham. The players and parents munched on chocolate chip pancakes and then presented the owner with the sponsor plaque. The team was a little sad, but all promised to practice during the winter months and set up some scrimmages for spring.

Arsenal faced Liverpool in the cool morning air in between rain showers, emerging victorious for the day and undefeated for the season, despite valiant attempts by Liverpool to defend their goal.  Both teams were eager to play a great final game, particularly since the weather robbed them of a chance to play last Saturday. Liverpool’s Brody Sharoff lead his team defiantly through the tireless and muddied Arsenal offense, closing in on his opponents’ goal numerous times, only to be turned away by skilled defensive plays by Matthew Levine and Gabriel Colon.  Arsenal’s Lumia Nocito and Romy Macari, (playing despite a mid-game injury), contributed with strong assists to their team’s strikers, Dario Flores, Margaret Matthews and Jacob Roter, while Elias Griffin and Benjamin Taret alternated halves with strong performances in the goalie position. Liverpool kept the game alive with a steadfast defensive line comprised of Danielle Vazzano, Gregory Elefterakis and Carson Ferdinand.  Milo Bernfield-Millman, Hailey Coffey, Nickolas Park and Nicole and Gianna LeGreca all contributed solid performances as well to keep their team in the game.

Junior 7

Like a couple of heavyweights at the old Trenton Arena, Crystal Palace and Blackburn traded withering blows throughout Saturday’s season finale for each team. When the final whistle blew and a light rain began pelting the exhausted players, Crystal Palace emerged as the undefeated champion of the division, but not before being pushed to its limit by a passionate, disciplined Blackburn side. Again and again Blackburn – led by Uriah Frederick, Delia Costello and Theo Simko – attacked. Again and again Crystal Palace – behind midfielders Zach Lobel, Tova Byrne and Theo Klein – repelled them. In the end Blackburn couldn’t get beyond the deep defense of Crystal Palace; impenetrable fullback Roxana Zerres and nimble goalie Max Ripps. The Palace pushed through a late goal and the matter was settled, although everyone agreed the game was closer than the 1-0 final score.  Said Blackburn coach Diana Biagioli, “I was proud of our kids.  Our defense, led by our newest player Hannah Sklover, was true team defense.” For Palace coach Geoff Arens, his team’s unblemished record was beside the point. “The season wasn’t about winning or scoring goals,” he insisted. “We learned how to pass to each other and look for each other and stand together. We’ve begun to play the game.” 

Manchester United defeated Birmingham, 3-0. Bryan Gomez sent a booming shot past Birmingham’s keeper on a breakaway up the middle to gain a 1-0 advantage going into the half. Fighting off Birmingham’s shadowing coverage, Anthony O’Donnel grabbed a loose ball 10 ft. in front of the goal, looked left, saw the keeper, and blasted a shot to the right of the net to give Manchester a 2-0 lead. Owen O’Keefe centered the ball and Henry Martin volleyed it on one touch into the back of the net for the final goal.

Major 8

Bari defeated Verona, 4-0, in a game that was closer than the score indicated. Bari led 2-0 at half and scored 2 late goals to clinch the victory. Raphael Santore Jr. led a solid effort for Bari.

Major 9

Livingston defeated Dundee, 3-2, on Saturday. It was an extremely exciting game and both teams displayed terrific spirit and sportsmanship on a challenging, muddy field. Eli Jossen and Isaac Simons scored for Livingston.  Late in the game, Dundee battled back from a 3-0 deficit with two solid goals that showed real team play and real determination.  It was a great way for both teams to close the season.

Motherwell and Aberdeen tied, 4-4, in a great match. Both teams are happy with the season.

Major 10

Sevilla defeated Celta, 5-3, in a tough final game on Sunday. Sevilla began with a quick 3-0 lead in the first half until Celta fired up with 2 goals. The Sevilla defensive line of Olivia Lautin, Sarah Fadel, Miguel Leiro, Oren Shore and Joshua Colon in goal were crucial in keeping Sevilla in the game. Midfielders Brandon Diaz, Justin Valenzuela, Mara Davis-Chanin, David Hersey, Jonah Yang and Darcy Haylor fed the ball up to their offensive teammates and assisted Charles Porcaro in scoring. Jess Josenchuk made a very special first goal of the season. Her teammates rewarded her by running to her after the goal, surrounding her and lifting her up in the air while cheering.

Barcelona defeated Real Madrid, 5-4, in what was easily the best game of the season for the teams. Soaked by rain and torn up from a season of intense soccer, the fields were a muddy mess, but that didn’t stop the players from playing hard and slugging up and down the field. Ian “The Bus” Petrarca, Jeremy Allen and Jules Berman helped put Barcelona in the lead by two goals at the half, but Real Madrid came back in the second and tied up the game. Emmet Smith scored three goals and Michael Herman chipped in one more to lead the Real Madrid attack. Rebecca Anthony and Anna Waterman fought hard to help keep it close for Real Madrid. It was still tied with two minutes left in the game when Barcelona’s Roy Valcek scored the winning goal.

Senior 12-13

Dallas Burn defeated Fire, 4-1, on Saturday. The game was scoreless in the first half and remained a close, hard-fought contest throughout. Burn was awarded a penalty kick late in the first half after a handball in the Fire’s penalty area. Burn attacker Ben Lenovitz hit the crossbar with his shot and the Fire goalkeeper made the save. With about 15 minutes left in the second half, Brian Chee scored after a scramble in front of the net. The play was set in motion by a long throw-in from Burn sweeper Will Gibbons. Burn’s leading scorer Gabe Cook scored on a breakaway with 10 minutes left and then scored again just two minutes later to make it 3-0. Both teams continued to play hard. Fire scored a goal before Burn forward Jake Donnenfeld added a goal just before time expired.

Crew defeated Rapids, 7-2, in the last match under the lights. The game evened two teams as Rapids took the victory when they met earlier in the season. Max Davis scored 3 goals for Crew, Lucas Brody scored off a corner kick, Zack Karson and Juntinian Montaperto each scored 1, and Alex Wedmore put one it with a mud sliding, belly flopping celebration.

Thanks to the Downtown Soccer League coaches for contributing game highlights each week and congratulations to all of the players on a great season.

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