Top notch competition featured at Bethesda Tournament Boys Weekend
Not many tournaments around the country can boast a competitive field so deep where not only top divisions, but second, third, fourth and even fifth divisions in some age groups are filled with State Cup champions, finalists and semifinalists among other high-ranking teams.
The Generation Adidas Bethesda Tournament is one of the few tournaments that can claim that level of competition, and along with events such as the Jefferson Cup, Disney Soccer Showcase and Potomac Memorial Tournament, is one of the most coveted youth soccer events on the East Coast.
The Bethesda Tournament Boys Weekend was played from Nov. 21-23, with 55 U.S. Youth Soccer and US Club Soccer state champions, four regional champions and one national champion competing in age groups ranging from U9-U19. Teams from 14 state competed in the event, including including Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Ohio, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, California, Florida and Vermont.
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Coaches from more than 200 programs from every level of collegiate soccer attended the showcase divisions, held at the Maryland SoccerPlex, during the Boys Weekend. Tournament organizers said that 300 player profile books were handed out to coaches within three hours of kickoff of the first games on Saturday morning.
“There was a lot of great competition, and that’s what we look for at a tournament like Bethesda,” said Friday Johnson, head coach of the U17 Potomac Division champion Montgomery SC Falcons. “The U17 age group is all about college showcase, so we look forward to Bethesda because it’s one of the best showcase tournaments in the nation.”
Playing in the top U17 division, Montgomery SC Falcons knocked off New York East champions and Region I semifinalists Manhattan SC Cruzeiro 1-0, and Pennsylvania East state semifinalists Philadelphia SC Coppa 3-0. They lost 2-1 to one of the New Jersey’s elite teams, Ironbound SC Premier Strikers, in their final match, but still finished first in the division with six points.
“The biggest thing at an event like this is the level of intensity, and these teams from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have great intensity which is why we look forward to these games,” Johnson said. “They’ve very good, very technically-sound teams. You always have to be ready to play against them, and be ready to make adjustments. Overall I was proud of how we played against some smart, physical opponents, some of the best teams in the Region.”
All four teams competing in the U16 Potomac Division were reigning state champions, with Delaware Rush, Pro Soccer Academy FC, Arlington Attack Red and Marlboro SA Warriors Blue (NJ) battling it out. PSAFC, the reigning Maryland state champs, edged Virginia state champion Arlington on head-to-head tiebreaker in the top U16 division after both teams finished the weekend with six points. PSAFC beat Arlington 1-0 on Saturday afternoon, scoring in the final five minutes of the match to beat the nationally renowned Attack.
“We held possession against them very well, so when you have a team that’s that dangerous, and you’re not giving them a lot of opportunity, a lot of time on the ball, it defeintely helps you, said PSAFC coach Lee Tschantret. “It was a good boost for our team to beat them, but it could always go both ways. Our guys made some timely defensive stops, a key save here and there, and that’s usually the difference in getting a result against a great team like Arlington. We gave away very few opportunities.”
Tschantret said that along with the college recruiting aspects, the quality of the technical side of the play at Bethesda is among the best his team has seen.
“The parity of the teams was terrific, rather than trying to play direct soccer, I think the teams we played really tried to work the ball around very well and approach the game strategically,” Tschantret said. “The talent level at Bethesda is so good across the board, it was nice to see some good football going on.”
In the U15 Potomac Division, reigning Virginia and Region I champions Arlington Eagles Red overpowered an extremely tough bracket which included the state champions from Eastern New York (Dix Hills Hurricanes) and Maryland (Fewster FC), and one of New Jersey’s most touted teams in Match Fit Black to advance to the Potomac Division final. In the final, national semifinalists Arlington squared off with Virginia State Cup semifinalists Loudoun Red in a Northern Virginia rivalry match, in which Arlington held on to win 1-0.
Virginia State Champion ABGC United FC 96 won the U19 Potomac Division, going 2-0-1 against a field which included Maryland state champs Severna Park, Region I finalists Smithtown Kickers SC Arsenal (NY-E) and highly-ranked New Jersey side Upper Freehold/Allentown Strikers.