The Rush beach soccer team took to the sand Sunday night up at Ohio Dominican University, putting their final touches on preparation for their upcoming Soccer in the Sand tournament in Cleveland, Ohio on July 14th and 15th. The beach soccer team is looking to retain the title they were awarded back in 2010. Last year they decided to forgo the Cleveland tournament, and instead they headed up to Grand Haven, Michigan for a tournament in which they also clinched the title. A birth to the United Soccer Leagues/Major Beach Soccer National Championship is on the line up in Cleveland.
The team opens up the weekend with two games on Saturday: both against teams from the hosting sponsor HandsOnSoccer. Sunday morning they play Ohio rival Son’s of a Beach. Despite the name, they are a formidable opponent whom the Rush has seen in three straight tournaments. The Son’s of a Beach, hailing from Cleveland, also qualified for Nationals last December. If the Rush can navigate the group stage, the will likely face an encounter with another National’s qualifier, Great Lakes Beach Soccer from Grand Haven, Michigan. Great Lakes squared off against the Rush in the 2011 Grand Haven tournament final, in which the Rush came out in a 4-3 victory.
The Rush brings back their entire roster from last year’s National Championship team, while adding three new players for depth. At goalkeeper, Kyle Speakmon and Bob Weisgarber will be vying for the starting job between the posts. While Speakmon is the returning starter, newcomer Weisgarber brings youth and size to the team. In the back, stalwarts Lewis Black and Brian Buttler return to anchor the team that has claimed the championship in two consecutive Soccer in the Sand tournaments. Hoping to continue the tradition of strong defending, new additions Jeff Lenix and Nate Yates look to put their own stamp to the backline. Midfield players RG Florey and Albert Smith return, along with playmaker Luke Froehlich. Florey and Smith are workhorses that bring a box-to-box mentality that works well with the creativity of Froehlich. Up top, the team will look for goals out of Georgi Petrov and Jared Dombrowski. Petrov lead the team in scoring in the Grand Haven tournament, alongside Dombrowski who topped the team chart at Nationals.
The Rush has their work cut out for them in Cleveland. They will however, try to build off their previous success on the sand, as well as collegiate and professional experience. Currently, four of the team’s players (Black, Dombrowski, Petrov and Yates) ply their trade with the Ohio Vortex, a professional indoor soccer team that plays in the Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL). Georgi Petrov also formerly played outdoor in the Bulgarian first and second divisions. Nevertheless, the team needs to come up big in Cleveland, if they want a chance playing for the National Championship in Clearwater, Florida come this December.
The Rush beach soccer team also wants Rush players to remember that they receive 30% off of Quik Hands gloves. Just use the code RUSH1 when checking out. QuikHands
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Below are images from Sunday's training session: