SOMERS, N.Y. — When you have a dedicated group of young soccer players, it makes sense to take the next step.
“We pulled this team together from a bunch of different Somers AYSO teams and picked the best of the group,” co-coach Chris Maciulewicz said. “We nominated the team to go to Florida this summer. But because the kids have never played together before, we split off from the normal AYSO group and joined the travel season.”
The Somers U10 Blazers (6-1) will wrap up their season at the biennial AYSO National Games from July 5-10 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Ten of the 12 children and their families will make the trip down south as Somers will compete with premier AYSO teams from different regions of the country.
“There will be 10 to 16 other U10 boys teams that we are going to play against,” co-coach John Vera said. “We are scheduled to have two games a day for three days. The fourth day we are going to have some sort of playoff, and the fifth day we may have a little championship game just for bragging rights.”
Somers has taken on teams from all over Westchester County this year, and most recently knocked off Croton Harmon, 9-2. Even though the national tournament should be more competitive, the 600,000 AYSO clubs around the country pride themselves on sportsmanship.
“Everybody has to play at least 50 percent of the game,” Maciulewicz said. “There’s a lot of rules that make it engaging for the kids so that they don’t have to sit on the sideline if they’re not as good as the other players.”
Player Andrew Fasone’s mother Michelle has watched the season’s transformation of the young Blazers.
“It’s just been nice to see the boys grow,” Michelle said. “They knew each other in school but they have now really come to be friends. You have seen the development on the field in skills and in the team effort. The idea of them staying together would be nice because I can only imagine it getting better.”
Keeping the crew together is something that everybody would want to see.
“Our goal is to keep these boys together and have them play,” Vera said. “The national games happen every two years. Next year they are going to be eligible for U12 and we may be trying to keep the three or four boys that are underage on the U12 team to keep the team together.”
For player Drew Maciulewicz’s mother Wendy, it’s crystal clear that the Blazers have formed smooth chemistry.
“They are such a team in the real sense of the word,” Wendy said. “They have been playing for a couple of months now and you can just tell that they trust each other. They have all become friends at such a young age. They don’t all go to the same school, but it doesn’t matter.”
Drew’s brother Jacob described how the team’s grand formation coincidentally fell into place.
“We had just found out that my little brother had been invited to this team,” Jacob said. “We weren’t sure if we would be able to go, and then my dad got invited to be a coach. A number of things kind of collided.”
Sending the team to Florida though has been the challenge. The Blazers have been doing tons of fundraising to help get these families to the Sunshine State. The website for donation is gofundme.com/somersayso. There will also be a charity fundraising garage sale this Saturday, June 25.
“I played at a national level as a kid with my father as my coach from when I was five years old to when I graduated high school,” Chris Maciulewicz said. “Honestly that’s been my motivation with my son to give him the same experience. I remember the vibe and excitement. It’s an experience that they will never forget.”
Top row, from left: coach John Vera, Aiden Meza, Edon Ukaj, Bryce Vera, Andrew Fasone, Ryan Paucar, Christian Dotto, coach Chris Maciulewicz. Middle row, from left: Sebastian Wissa, Alexander Wissa, John King, Hayden Carbonaro. Bottom row: Daniel Gomes, Drew Maciulewicz.