For all teams, always something to play for at Jefferson Cup
By Jimmy LaRoue
Without semifinal or finals games to be played in some of the brackets, it didn’t mean there wasn’t anything to play for on the final day of the 2013 Jefferson Cup Boys Weekend.
The hundreds of teams descending upon Richmond showed up to give their players highly competitive matches under the watchful eye of the numerous college coaches in attendance.
That included the Eastern FC Lancers of Westchester, New York, who, even in their third game in three days, with no playoffs or trophy to play for, still wanted the prestige of finishing at the top of their group at a prestigious tournament like the Jefferson Cup.
And even though they had one loss on Saturday, they markedly improved their play Sunday and came away with the Boys U-16 Superior title by one point over FSA FC U-16 Boys Navy of Connecticut.
The Connecticut team finished with two wins and a tie, but Eastern FC Lancers, with a 4-0 shutout of Empire Revolution Buffalo Blue 96/97 Sunday, picked up a bonus, shutout point that was enough to put the Westchester side atop the group.
The Lancers’ coach, Ray Franklin, said he adjusted his tactics knowing he would need both goals, and a shutout, to have a chance to finish atop the bracket.
“We had a little hiccup yesterday,” Franklin said of Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Ohio Elite Academy. “
But like its opening game, the Lancers, who start their National Premier Leagues season this coming weekend, pitched a shutout, taking care of its issues from the middle game of the Jefferson Cup.
“We fixed the problems that we had [Saturday] and took it to them today,” Franklin said. “I think our distribution wasn’t good. Our shape wasn’t very good. We gave two really early goals away, which wasn’t good, two goals in 10 minutes they scored.”
Forward Steven Hernandez is key for the 13th ranked team in eastern New York–“he’s a magical player,” Franklin says. Emmet Gaffney, who scored a golazo from 35-yards off an errant clearance, is another stalwart in the midfield.
“Everybody else, they just do the job that we put them in,” said Franklin, who started the club 26-years ago. “I’m kind of flexible with the kids. I put them in these positions to do that. They bond really well.”
The team came away from Richmond with a memorable experience, not just on the field, but away from it as well. He took the team bowling to help relax, and it seems to have worked.
“It’s been very, very good,” Franklin said. “Sad for the weather, but they got it in. It worked out great for everybody. Fantastic fields [and] a kick start for our season in New York.”