After an amazing season, FC Somers Arsenal Boys U14 team made it to the semi-finals of the US Club Soccer National Championships in Denver, Colorado. “This was an unbelievable experience and achievement for the boys and the team,” said coach and manager Mark Hopper, “and an experience they will never ever forget in their lifetime.”
FC Somers Arsenal had won the Westchester Cup by going 5-0 and beating FC Transylvania 7-3 in the final after coming from two goals down. This championship victory qualified the team for the North Atlantic Regional tournament at the PDA Soccer Complex in New Jersey. Arsenal produced some of their best soccer of the season at the regional, going 4-0 vs top academy teams and winning the final 3-2 vs. NJ Elite Academy. Said Head Coach Milan Davidovic, “We were fantastic down at regionals and played amazing soccer in unbearable heat. The boys found their top level and showed how much they wanted to win a major championship and qualify for a national tournament. We left regionals on a major high and with a Championship trophy.”
At the national championships in Denver, Colorado, the Arsenal team was drawn into the toughest group. On match day one, the team produced a great performance and beat the Oklahoma State champions, South Lakes Academy, by a score of 3-1. On match day two, Team Arsenal pulled a major surprise and hung on to beat GPS Carolina Elite 1-0. This win meant Arsenal had won the group and qualified the team to the semi-finals. On Match day three, and in the final group game, Arsenal fell 1-0 to the Manteca FC (California State Champions & the number two ranked team in USA). In a bizarre scenario, GPS Carolina Elite also qualified as the wildcard from the group stages and were drawn to play Team Arsenal in the semi-final. GPS Carolina came out firing on all cylinders, grabbed a few early goals and finished with a 5-1 win vs Team Arsenal to qualify for the National Championship Final.
Said Coach Milan Davidovic “The Footballing Gods didn’t shine on us at the semifinals stage. We lost two starters to injuries and then lost our keeper midway through the first half when he hit his head against the post. No excuses though, we were beaten by the better side on the day. That said, I was really proud of the overall performance of the team and we showed that we belong at the elite level in the country.”
FC Somers Arsenal had one of the best seasons in the entire history of the club. They finished in second place of Eastern Development Programs D1 (ranked the top league in the country) losing narrowly by three points to the NY Stars who ended up winning the national championship in Colorado. They also finished runners up in two top-rated tournaments (EDP Kick off Tournament & Delco Cup) losing both championships on penalty kicks after winning every game prior to the 2 finals. Said Coach Mark Hopper “The heartache of finishing runners up three times (twice on PKs) in three top-level competitions after playing so well inspired us to win the Westchester Cup and more importantly the Regionals Championship where the Boys refused to lose while playing a beautiful style of soccer.”
FC Somers Arsenal team was built on a highly organized and hard tackling defense, a crafty, skilled and workmanlike midfield and a potent striker crew that encouraged all out attacking play from both defensive full backs. Said Coach Milan Davidovic, “This season exceeded all expectations and it was pleasure to work with this team. I am already looking forward to next season to see if we can keep improving on the field and keep learning the game at a high level.”