CASL U-17 Premier squad bonds quickly

Staff WriterJuly 17, 2009 

  • CASL Premier schedule

    10 a.m. Today vs. Conquist America (Calif.), Field 16

    10 a.m. Saturday vs. Indiana Magic, Field 2

    5 p.m. Saturday vs. Spartans FC (Md.), Field 2

    10:25 a.m. Sunday in championship or consolation game, Field 9 or 10

By the age of 17, most youth soccer players have been members of the same team for years. They have come up through the same system, beginning as early as 10 years old.

The CASL U-17 Premier squad formed just this year.

So it's unlikely, they could jell quickly enough to become one of the top four teams in the country and compete in a national tournament. That just doesn't happen, does it?

"Well, I guess it does," center back Bryan Mackowiak said with a laugh.

Mackowiak and his team rolled through the regular season and won the Region III tournament last month, securing a place in the US Youth Soccer Presidents Cup finals this weekend in Raleigh at the WRAL Soccer Center.

"For the most part, they've been jelling well," coach Alix Charles said. "And they've been playing well. They're really coming up as a team."

The Premier squad is two CASL teams from last year that were combined, which midfielder Eleil Delphonse said is key to their chemistry.

"We're not just teammates, we're also friends," he said. "We hang out with each other outside of practice, and some of us go to the same school, so I think it's just a lot of knowing each other."

But MacKowiak admitted the team exceeded his expectations. It faced tough state and regional tournaments, and there were times when "other teams definitely looked stronger," he said.

The regional tournament was a special challenge. There were two overtime matches, one ending in penalty kicks, and the final was decided on a Premier goal with less than three minutes left.

The team's success helps solidify CASL's national status.

"That speaks, I think, to the quality of the program and the level," Charles said.

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