The Virginia Rush U14 Swoosh boys will continue their dream in Iowa after winning the US Youth Soccer Region 1 Presidents Cup Championships. The Swooshers spent the weekend in Albany, New York playing against the champions from other states located in Region 1 over the Memorial Day weekend. They are one of four (4) teams that will play for the national championship in Des Moines, Iowa July 7-10, 2011. It will no doubt be an awesome and once in a lifetime experience.
The team is coached by Danny Speight and has been together for two (2) years. The team has been trained throughout the season to peak during the Region 1 event after winning the state title in the fall. The players and parents bought into the fact that league play during the spring was not about winning, but about preparing the team to give them the best opportunity to excel in the Presidents Cup event. As Coach Speight puts it “I feel truly blessed and lucky to be the coach of this team. God is really looking out for me. We are really living a dream right now. The energy level with the players is crazy right now and they will be ready to represent the 757, Virginia Rush, Commonwealth of Virginia and the Region in Iowa”.
The team’s first match was against Rhode Island on Saturday. The match ended in a 2-2 tie. The Rhode Island team was lucky to get such a good result. The Rush dominated the match throughout the first half. They held the majority of the possession and played a high pressure game. Dominik Laniohan-Sibley blew by their left back and passed a perfectly placed ball across the box to Garrett Scott who found the back of the net. The second goal was off of a corner kick. Kyle Livsey was set to take the corner, but was called off by Garrett Craft. Unbeknownst to our opponent, Livsey had slightly moved the ball forward making it a live ball. Craft proceeded to dribble the ball toward the goal and sent a driven ball to the head of Kyle Roberts and Roberts finishes the play with the ball in the back of the net. Rhode Island was better in the second half and scored a goal off a strange deflection and an own goal. We gave this one away.
The team’s second match was against New Hampshire and the Rush won 4-0. Following a very sluggish first half, the boys caught fire in the second half after spending the time between halves with Coach Speight. The key to this game was the defense and Trey Smith deciding to impose his will on the game. Trey received a yellow card after battling with their right middie. Within a 20 minute period following Trey’s booking four goals were scored off of truly beautiful shots. Two goals were scored by Garrett Scott, one by Kyle Livsey (a truly special shot) and another by Jack Saslowsky. Moral to the story don’t mess with Trey.
Next up was the team from Maryland. The team was from the Baltimore Bays Soccer Club and they informed several of us they were recently named the top boys club in the country. The Bays had won their first two matches 10-0 and 5-0. Obviously, this was our most important match in the tournament. Our players were fired up to say the least. It was a very physical match and they were very good controlling the ball throughout. We took a more defensive posture and countered when we had our opportunities. Trey Smith challenged their right back and won the ball. Trey hit a shot from 20 yards out and the place went wild. The match included 11 yellow cards and was a battle. This match meant something to both teams. Trey’s goal was the only goal due to an awesome defense, superb goal keeping by Georges Stephens and luck. Rush takes the match 1-0 and gets the right to play in the semifinals against the PA Rush Nike team representing Eastern Pennsylvania.
It was really cool to play another Rush team and to know the Rush would be represented in the final match. We won the match 2-1. The PA team was very good and possessed the ball more than we did. Kyle Roberts hit a thirty yard left footed shot after making a brilliant move on the defender; truly a magical shot. The PA boys scored off of a cross tying the match at 1-1. In the second half Kyle Livsey finds the side netting from twenty yards out and we are in the finals baby. Again Georges Stephens was crazy outstanding in the goal and we were very lucky. The crossbar was our friend in this match.
As fate would have it, we played the Baltimore Bays again. It’s hard to beat a team as good as the Bays twice. We mixed it up this time and went after them. In the first a bouncing ball is played through and Trey Smith challenges the keeper and Trey lobs the ball over his head into the net. The place is rocking. The battle continues and we hammer a Bay player in the box for a PK. The Bay’s player struck a beautiful ball to the left side of our keeper and Georges Stephens goes horizontal and makes the save; unreal stuff. The match is back and forth and our defense is flying through the air. Georges makes countless great saves and we are going to Iowa.
Coach Speight stated “The whole weekend was miraculous and the dream continues. The experience is indescribable and the players have accomplished something many thought was impossible. I am still amazed and in shock we won the regional event.”