BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The coaches from the Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club came out Wednesday evening to put their words into action. The coaches exercised the skills that they teach in a "friendly" game of Girls Coaches versus Boys Coaches. The Girls Coaches fell to the Boys Coaches, 5-3, after a close defensive battle.
Ian Penna, Coach of the Girls U-11 Blue Storm, explained that the game was played as a celebration for the end of the season for the coaches.
While some of the coaches have college level experience and continue to play with that intensity and skill, there are some that never played before they started coaching. "For the coaches that don't play soccer, we like for them to experience [the game]. When they expect more from the kids, we want them to understand what they're expecting from their players. It's hard, once you're tired, you don't have the energy to keep going and power through. When they go out to play a 90 minute game, they realize this after playing for 5 minutes," said Penna, who is an avid player.
The Boys Coaches were up by two goals in the first half which were answered by goals by Kevin McRae and Pat Fuhrmann to tie the game going into the half. Ian Penna scored early in the second half to give the Girls Coaches the lead for the first time in the game.
"The game was mostly an even match," said Coach of the Boys Coaches, Ira Jersey. "The Boys Coaches played better defense the second half which allowed them to spread the pitch wider." The turning point came after a Boys Coaches' foul giving the Girls Coaches a penalty kick opportunity to level the game. "Confidence improved after the saved penalty kick," said Jersey.
The Boys Coaches took advantage of more scoring opportunities with 3 second half goals late in the game to win 5-3. Larry Naldi lead the Boys Coaches with multiple scores and the game winning goal.
Each team chose a player from the opposing team that showed the most sportsmanship. The Boys Coaches chose the lone woman player of the evening, Lara Carbine, coach of the Girls U9 Bandits. The Girls Coaches chose John Pullara, coach of the Boys U14 Badgers, who contributed to the game with several goal assists and "had a blast" playing.
"It's an opportunity to see how hard it is when you're on the other side of the line. The ball moves 10 times faster than when you are standing there yelling and coaching kids," said Mike Emanuel. "We also now know why the kids play in the same age level. When you have a 10 to 15 year age gap between the players, those of us that are on the upper range, tend to notice," Emanuel joked of the loose U45 age level.
Kevin Young, assistant coach of the Girls U11 Rockets, was playing in his first ever game. Young agreed with the sentiment of the evening, "it is helpful to know that this game is a lot harder to play than coach."
The Berkeley Heights Youth Soccer Club, Inc is a 501c3 organization that supports traveling soccer teams for the youth of Berkeley Heights and is affiliated with New Jersey Youth Soccer (NJYS). Club teams currently play in Mid-New Jersey Youth Soccer Association (MNJYSA), Intercounty Youth Soccer League (ICYSL) and Jersey Area Girls Soccer (JAGS). The club also presently supports a recreational Soccer Development Academy (SDA) and a recreational Soccer Development Academy Kindergarten/Pre-K (SDAK/Pre-K) for youths in pre-K through 2nd grade and non-travel 3rd graders.