WAGS Tournament: Familiarity helps Toms River United in opening day win
By Jimmy LaRoue
Despite limited training time, Toms River FC Elite United 96/97 came together and pulled out a 2-1 win over Coronado Youth Soccer Nado Select Saturday in the Under-16 Showcase bracket of the 37th Annual WAGS Rael Vodicka Memorial Tournament.
“Today we played solid considering the girls on this team represent nine different high schools and they really haven’t trained a lot as our club team,” said Toms River coach Carl Leshinski. New Jersey high schools are in the midst of their fall seasons.
Emma Sinanan scored first for Toms River, and after a Coronado goal, Amanda Carolan picked up the game-winner for Toms River in the second half.
He said his team’s possession was solid, and held their defensive shape well.
“I was pretty proud of them,” Leshinski said.
While it was a challenge to bring the team together from different high school teams, this group has been playing together for several years.
“It’s tough, but they look forward to the challenge,” Leshinski said.
He was pleased with the overall performance but knows there are areas in which to improve.
“The intensity was pretty good, [but] we were too slow,” Leshinski said. “We played too slow out of the back. We didn’t build quick enough, and therefore, weren’t able to counter quick enough.”
He said he has no one standout above the rest on the team.
“The biggest thing with this group is that it’s a different person on any given day,” Leshinski said. “There’s 16 on the roster. It’s your pick today, Amanda and Emma stepped up and were able to finish. Defensively we got some good performances from a number of different girls. But tomorrow I can almost guarantee it’s going to be a different group. With this group, you never know what you’re going to get, but somebody always rises to the occasion.”
The girls from Toms River have been coming to the WAGS tournament for eight years.
“It’s a great event,” Leshinski said. “It’s always really well-run. We’ve been coming here since the girls were nine, and they’re 16 now, so it’s definitely one of the premier events in the nation.”
Toms River was a semifinalist in last year’s WAGS tournament and was also a semifinalist in this past spring’s Jefferson Cup in Richmond.
“Somehow, last year, this was one of our better events,” Leshinski said. “So far this year, it looks like we’re on the same path.”