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NCAA Mar 11, 2012

Lake Grove United’s Tim Graham departs Richmond pleased with his team’s display

By Roger Gonzalez

Under-17 team Lake Grove United out of New York knows all about the Jefferson Cup, making its third trip back to the Richmond tournament this year.

In 2011, the club won the U-16 Championship, with 2012 being the time for the nation’s No. 3 team to show off its players in order to gain more recognition at the next level. The northerners finished 1-1-1 in the cup. However, results meant little to coach Tim Graham.

“I thought we performed well,” he said. “It’s always weird to go from competitive play to showcase play.

“You compete, but on the other hand, you have to get players looked at.”

Parents paced up and down the sidelines, checking out which coaches were watching, then coordinating with the coach in order to get exposure for all of the players.

“If we know some coaches were looking at certain kids, we would try to get those kids in,” Graham said, while also noting that it does make it difficult to play a normal game.

Over the weekend, his players turned heads with their ball skills, technique and pace.

“We are often told we have the best possession,”Graham said.

“We possess the ball well. We try to play a lot like [Spanish club FC] Barcelona.”

College coaches took notice, quickly taking all of the player profiles the club brought. However, some of the coaches might be let down knowing that some of the players are unavailable in the world of recruiting.

Senior winger Jesse Inkles will be playing at NCAA Division school I Stony Brook next year, while defenders Toni Domingues and Nicolas Araujo will play Division II, though the coach feels that both could play in the top division but simply wanted to stay close to home. Still, the team has many promising young players that will surely get many looks.

“We feel good,” the coach said of his team’s exposure. “We had a lot of interest. I talked to only a couple coaches, but there were many there, high level, low level, mid level.

“They seemed interested.”

One of the players is receiving interest from a pro club on the other side of the world. Turkey-born midfielder Anil Sire has been in talks with Turkish professional club Galatasaray and will potentially join the team soon.

Now, after a positive display in Richmond and on the way back to New York after a long, tiring weekend, Graham had time to reflect on the competition.

“We like it,” he said of the tournament. “The fields are beautiful.”

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