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Tournaments Mar 10, 2012

Jeff Cup Q&A: David Jones, coach, Lower Merion SC Panthers

By Charles Boehm and Roger Gonzalez

The Soccer Wire spoke with a range of coaches throughout the 2012 Jefferson Cup to learn more about their teams, clubs and experiences at the tournament. Philadelphia-area team Lower Merion Panthers were one of the big winners in Under-17 competition on day one, passing and possessing well in a 3-1 victory over Bruno United U17 of Rhode Island to start the weekend at the top of Group A of the Superior division.

Afterwards we chatted with Jones, an Englishman who spent time in Wimbledon FC’s system before moving to the U.S. to play for Villanova University in the mid-1990s.

TSW: First of all, what are your thoughts on your team’s win today, and of the Jefferson Cup in general?

DJ: We probably played at about 80 percent of what we’re capable of, [but] it was a good result, which was nice. Everybody got good playing time. We love coming here. The field was fantastic. The referee – I just told the referee that our players just complimented him. The best referee we ever had. Communicated with the players excellently, made good calls. When he didn’t, he apologized. Excellent referee. Absolutely fantastic.

TSW: Why do you make the trip down to compete in this tournament?

DJ: One of the reasons we are doing this for is to play teams we haven’t seen before. We don’t want to go anywhere and play someone we’ve played before. So, we are thrilled to play the three teams we have this weekend…[Meeting teams] from three different parts of country, it’s all about giving the guys that kind of experience. It’s excellent. I’m really pleased.

TSW: Do your players have college soccer aspirations? Are they aware of the college coaches watching these Jeff Cup games?

DJ: Most of our guys actually have got some interest, in varying levels. Some of them are lukewarm, some are very hot about it. They’ve all made a great effort these last few months to reach out.

Our team is primarily juniors. We have two sophomores and one potential freshman – we’ve got to figure out what grade he is going into. He just arrived in the country last weekend.

TSW: Where is your club based, and can you talk a bit about its philosophy?

DJ: We are based in the suburbs of Philadelphia…It’s a progressive club. They have put in an academy system in place for four- to nine-year-olds. These guys [Panthers U-17s] have kind of come through the rough ranks, which is why some of their skills aren’t as smooth as the other kids coming through, but there are a lot of good coaches in the club now that have college experience or pro experience and are really working with the four- through nine-year-olds.