Day 1 of the 2015 Virginian Elite Showcase kicks off with great weather, quality soccer
The 40th edition of the Virginian Elite Showcase kicked off Saturday with gorgeous weather, high quality soccer and a festive atmosphere on the holiday weekend.
Returning for the second year in a row, and planning to host many more Virginian tournaments in the future, Evergreen SportsPlex provided a lively environment on and off the pitch for the Girls Showcase age groups. There was buzz throughout the concourse and sidelines about the newly-opened stadium, snack bar, parking, the newly opened Adventure Course in the background, and the 70-degree weather gracing the area.
A wide range of college coaches were also in attendance, many still looking for seniors, and some traveling by air just to attend.
The action on the field was worthy of the facility and scouts’ attention with clubs from all over the East Coast playing with the extra spark typical for the opening day of a tournament weekend.
On the pitch, Southwestern Youth Association Cardinals 96 defeated Fauquier County Fever 2-0, Panthers United X-Treme beat Culpeper Comets 2-1, SYC Pride Fire beat Loudoun 97 Black 2-1 and Lee Mount Vernon SC edged out Vienna Youth Soccer Falcons 1-0.
While the action for the youth players on the field ended after the 4 p.m. timeslot, those with the energy and desire were able to attend the opening of D.C. United’s U-23 PDL season hear, their permanent home for 2015. Evergreen’s newly opened Adventure Park was also doing brisk business, with rope courses and zip lines running through the forest providing a highly unique backdrop.
Meanwhile, the Men’s Showcase Division kicked off Saturday at Long Bridge Park in Crystal City, a stone’s throw from downtown Washington, D.C. Teams and supporters enjoyed the state-of-the-art facility, which features three turf fields overlooking the Pentagon and in sight of the Washington Monument.
In U-19 Showcase action, DC Stoddert Red Storm and Waldorf 97 Orange played out a spirited 2-2 draw as planes overhead rose and descended in and out of nearby Reagan National Airport.
Stoddert Red Storm got in behind the Waldorf defense early on as Jorge Silva and Leeroy Mbuta scored first-half goals for the District squad. But their Maryland-based opponents rallied, led by goalscorers Taylor Gray (pictured on the ball at right) and Ryan Burton and lively attacker Joshua O’Neal, to earn a share of the points and give coach Gary Knight some useful information as Waldorf 97 Orange look ahead to the fall season.
“We’re a young team, we’re a first-year team,” said Knight afterwards. “We just put this team together this year.
“We just want good competition … to gauge our players so we can figure out how we’re going to move forward and where we’re going to go after this.”
Buckingham United Vipers Premier (Pa.) cruised to an impressive 3-1 win over NVSC United 98B White in a U-16 morning matchup, with the eastern Pennsylvania side controlling most of the possession and creating most of the clear-cut scoring chances. Tomasz Ogonowski, Jordan Stokes and Harrison Dalsass scored for Buckingham (pictured at right), who were spurred on by a slightly unusual lineup approach from coach D.J. Burke.
“We just hustled – we had everybody playing different positions today, motivating them, putting them out of their complacency,” said Burke. “Just tried a little bit of a different strategy to get people moving.
“We have two younger guys who are playing up, so we’re really trying to focus on developing them for the high school [level], bringing the ball out, bringing it back and opening up the field.”
In one of the more thrilling matches of the day, SYC United and Northern Virginia SC Arsenal White played to a 3-3 draw in which four of the goals were scored in the final 15 minutes.
Down 2-0 in the second half, SYC United’s Ibrahim Koroma scored two goals in a 5 minute span, a 30-yard blast that tucked below the cross bar and another shorter range strike just minutes later to equalize.
After NVSC promptly re-took the lead, SYC equalized once again, beating the final whistle with a tap-in goal on a scramble in the box.
“We have to give it up for Ibrahim, he went in there and just made a difference,” said SYC coach Boris Manzur. “It’s pretty common for him to launch some of those long shots and he really has that going for him, he tends to make about half of them.”
Manzur and SYC United, 10-year veterans of the Virginian, will look to build on Saturday’s hard-fought match with a win on Sunday.
“Everybody came today ready to work and did their jobs the whole game, and that’s why it came together in the end,” Manzur said. “That hard work should carry over for us into tomorrow.”
On the next field over during the same 11:30 a.m. time slot, Annandale United FC 96 scored on a scramble in the box in the final minute as well, beating Calverton Revolution 3-2.
The Annandale defense was productive on both ends of the field, as left back Vladimir Alvarado scored an early goal to put the team on top in the first half, and Bruno Schwartz started a run out of the back moments later to set up a Zachary Myers goal.
Also in the Men’s Showcase, Sebastian Rodriguez-Jurado sparked the Takoma Park Rangers attack in a 3-0 win over Alexandria Soccer Association Arsenal, Loudoun Soccer Black beat Penn Trafford VICI 2-1, NVSC Arsenal Blue outlasted Virginia Blackwatch and D.C. Stoddert Red Storm played to a scoreless draw against PWSI Courage 96 White.
Boys and girls age groups from U-9 to U-15 competed at various facilities across Northern Virginia as well, making up one of the highest level 600-team fields in recent memory for the Virginian Elite Showcase.