About 90 SDA families are headed to Virginia this weekend for the Region 1 Championships, where five SDA teams will compete for the chance to go to Nationals.
Ten SDA teams made it to the Final Four of the National Championship Series, known as State Cup, more than any other soccer club. After their performance there, the ’99, ’00 and ’02 Girls and the ’02 and ’04 Boys teams are headed to regional competition this weekend in Spotsylvania, Va.
Winners of the regional championships head to the US Youth National Championships at the end of July in Frisco, Texas.
Mike Kirmse coaches the ’00 Girls and is proud of the team’s talent. “I feel every single player can contribute to the success of winning,” he said. That makes crafting a roster difficult, he said, “but that’s a good problem to have, to have so many capable players.”
This trip to Regionals is a repeat for Anthony Scaravillo and some of his players. He coaches the ‘02 Boys now. A few years back, he played at Regionals on a u17 Boys team for Empire, the club that became SDA.
Some of the players on Scaravillo’s ’02 Boys team were on the u13 team that won Regionals last year and proceeded to Nationals.
“It’s going to be completely different this year,” he said. The change in the US Youth Soccer age matrix means about half of his team are from last year’s u13 team, and half are from last year’s u14 team.
“I know what to expect. I know it’s a really tough weekend. There’s little to no room for mistakes, so I’m getting them mentally ready,” Scaravillo said. “I’m making sure that they know they’re going to be playing against some of the best teams in the country, and they can’t afford to make mistakes.”
Ryan Hall’s ’02 Girls team added a third weekly practice since winning State Cup, and they’ve scrimmaged the older girls’ teams “to help give them a little bit more experience,” he said.
Hall previously coached teams in the Region 2 championships. He has told his team to expect “the best of the best” in the competition. They are gathering at Green Lakes State Park Wednesday night for a team run the day before they travel to Virginia.
The ’04 Boys are following their usual training routine, said their coach, Adam Olinski. “We’ve come a long way since last year.”
He said he expects the players to be excited about playing in Regionals, “but after that first whistle goes off, I hope they take a breath and settle in. Once we get on that field, we need to be ready to play.”
SDA Director of Soccer Mike Paolini, coaches the ’99 Girls, many of whom competed in Nationals last year. The team has added scrimmages in preparation for this weekend. “Possibly playing five games in five days will require all 18 players to be game fit,” he explained.
“All the girls who experienced the run through Regionals and Nationals last year understand the importance of each game,” he said. “It’s not looking ahead to the games in the semi finals and final matches, but one game at a time.”
The SDA Facebook page will feature pictures and information from the teams at Regionals this weekend. And future stories will feature the teams preparing for US Club National Cup Finals in Indiana, and US Youth Nationals in Texas.