[ 4 days. 13 teams. 10 coaches. 50 games. 2 quarterfinalists. 3 semifinalists. 1 regional champion ]
US Futsal’s Northeast Regional Championship took place February 15–18 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Alexandria Soccer Association (ASA) took more teams and players to the competition than ever before. “We’ve been developing our futsal ID program and these teams for several years. We knew that the tournament would be a competitive experience across the board but we also knew our teams were ready and we wanted to give them their greatest test to date,” said Futsal ID director, Will Hanna.
ASA teams ages U9-U17 competed against top teams from around the region. For many, it was their first experience at a tournament of this intensity and caliber. The regional competition takes place in one giant space—the Atlantic City convention center. The enormous room holds thirteen futsal courts, with simultaneous games played back to back to back on every court. The environment can be intimidating, loud, overwhelming and THRILLING.
For the third year in a row the 2002 ASA futsal ID boys team brought home the Regional Championship!
The team, coached by Will Hanna, kicked off tournament play with more excitement than Coach Will would have liked. Down 2–0 ten minutes into the first half of the first game, the boys battled back and pulled off a 6–4 victory. They breezed through the following two games with relative ease. The boys’ cohesion, discipline and energy led to successful pool play and a birth to tp the quarterfinal.
Early in the quarterfinal game things took a turn when goalkeeper Alex Temoshok was red carded for handling the ball outside the box.
For the remainder of the quarterfinal game and in the semifinal, Thanos Androus, (who hasn’t played goalkeeper since he was 11) stepped in to help keep the dream alive. The 2002 team, who seem to thrive on adversity like this, came together to support each other and ultimately won the semifinal game 4–3. After leading 3–0 early on, the game got a little close for comfort but they pulled back and advanced to the finals.
The team played Alianza Futsal in championship match. Both teams were incredibly disciplined and played tight defense. Up 1–0 at halftime, ASA netted one more in the second half and then held on to win the game by a score of 2–1.
Aside from the great competition and on court experiences, the best part of this tournament is the interaction and support between players of all ages. It’s incredible to see parents, coaches and players from every team cheer each other on, celebrate victories and comfort each other after the losses. The ASA community feel in the convention center was apparent and is an awesome advantage to sending multiple teams.
Katie Brooks, PR & Communications Director said, “ We couldn’t be more proud of how our teams played and supported each other. Referees consistently told us throughout the weekend how respectful our players and parents were and how impressed they were with our play.”
We’re pleased with the results on the court, but even more so, we’re proud of our kids and their maturity as they navigated an exciting and nervous environment.
Four years ago ASA teams competing in the regional tournament lost games by 20 points. The incredible growth and progress of the futsal ID program is a testament to our curriculum, the dedicated coaching staff and a never ending growth mindset.
Team Roundup & Results:
The 2006, 2005 and 2003 girls teams all advanced to the semifinals for the first time ever!
The 2003 and 2006 girls both advanced to the semifinal round—the 06’s for the first time ever and the 03’s for the third year in a row. The 2003 team, fueled exclusively by Lila Doyle’s Dad’s amazing smoothies, made a run through bracket play with three well played, close games. They competed against Yesa in the semifinal and ultimately lost 4–2. For the third year in a row, their semifinal opponent would go on to win the regional championship.
Advancing from bracket play first in their division, the 2006 girls team beat their quarterfinal opponent, Bayside FC, 6–0. In the semifinal they were up against a very good team from The Players Futsal Academy and while the game remained close for the majority of play, the final score ended 7–3.
The 2005 girls team made their first appearance at regionals this year. Coach Scott Senkier said, “Since this was our first trip to regionals, I knew the competition would be tough and thought the environment might be a bit overwhelming. The girls quickly settled in, showed no nerves, performed unbelievably well, and absolutely peaked at the right time.”
The 2005s played an incredible quarterfinal game defeating a team from Yesa, 3–2. In the semifinal the girls were forced to adjust their defensive strategy against a good team from Complete Moves Premier and ended their run with a 5–1 loss.
The 2004 girls team had a great tournament in which they went undefeated (two wins and a tie), but didn’t advance to playoffs due to a quark with the way point goal differential was calculated. Coach Peja Ilic said, “I’m frustrated that we didn’t advance due to a technicality but am really proud of how the girls played and their effort. In the final game they worked well together and went on a run scoring three quick goals in the hopes that the point total would put us into the next round.”
The 2004 and 2008 boys both advanced to the quarterfinal round after coming out of their respective brackets in first place. Both teams competed last year and didn’t make it out of bracket play. The full emotion of the success this year is encompassed in 2008 player, Aiden Zarate’s reaction below.
Both teams were up against tough competition in the quarterfinals. The 04’s lost 2–1 and the 08’s lost 3–1. While these boys were disappointed to bow out in the quarterfinal round it’s incredible to see the improvement since last year. No doubt they’ll be back in 2020 and ready to advance even further.
The 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2003 boys teams competed in tough brackets and did not advance past pool play. The 07’s lost a competitive final game to DC Hyper Futsal (local rivals!) and have legitimately already set their sites on next year. The 2005s battled a few injuries throughout the tournament but still performed well. The 2006s missed out on advancing by just a couple of points in goal differential.
These groups walk away from this experience having seen the competition, having pushed through adversity and are ready to build off what they’ve learned in the future.
The youngest age groups represented were the the U9 boys and U10 girls teams. Both teams competed at regionals for the first time and on the largest courts they had ever played on. Coach Peja and Coach Grady focused on implementing things their teams had worked on all season and helped their players feel comfortable in this intense environment. Both teams left the tournament with one victory! We’re really proud of how these younger kids came in, played their hearts out and had a blast.