MIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- East Hampton's Nicholas West was favoring his left foot as he walked off the field. He said it had been stepped on late in the first half -- a half in which West's play had been spectacular.
The Bonackers' leading goal scorer shrugged off the pain after the game and said it was no big deal. No issues with it.
"I'll be fine," said West, smiling, as he embraced his family and friends after his team beat Jamesville-DeWitt, 3-0, to advance to the state Class A boys soccer final at 10:30 a.m. today against Greece Athena. "I've got too much adrenaline in me right now to worry about something like that."
West's energy was apparent throughout East Hampton's convincing victory.
None more so than in the first half, where West scored in the 11th and 16th minutes to give the Bonackers (18-1-2) a 2-0 lead. Driving hard to the goal line, West drilled a left-footed shot on goal that was deflected off a Jamesville-Dewitt defender and into the net to open up the game's scoring.
"It was a confidence-booster, that first goal. It sure helped us keep our composure," said West, who now has 25 goals. "There was still work to do after that first goal."
With the help of Esteban Valverde, West didn't waste much time. Valverde's cross landed off the crossbar and was then headed home by West, who went all-out to make sure the Bonackers had a two-goal lead. "I saw Este dribble through and he hit a great shot," West said. "I put as as much power into the header as possible, so that the goalkeeper couldn't see it."
Valverde, who returned for the postseason after fracturing his collarbone in the third game of the season, scored his first of the season in the 55th minute to seal it.
"I anticipated the situation, ran on to the ball and took their goalie out of the play," Valverde said. "I'm happy that we get to keep going. We had those nerves going at the beginning, but there was great joy there."
The early goals made things much easier for players like Christian Barrientos and Bryan Oreamuno, who were instrumental in helping "stabilize the midfield," Barrientos said.
Not much got through, and when anything came close, Nick Tulp was there to make one of his five saves. "We got the ball wide, got it to the outside and attacked their outside backs," Barrientos said. "We were able to calm things down. We meant business. This is our field, we kept saying."
Oreamuno never felt Jamesville-DeWitt was able to get its game plan going, which was to get the ball "over our heads," he said, and deep into the Bonackers' end. "We wouldn't allow that," Oreamuno said.
"The key for us was using our flanks, the outside wingers, who got the ball to the outside and crossed it into the goal box," said Oreamuno, who said he is dedicating the season in honor of his late grandfather, Enrique Leon. "It means a lot to me and it would be great if we can bring the title home."
The NPL was created to elevate and change the competitive youth soccer landscape by extending developmental principles espoused by U.S. Soccer into more age groups and clubs, by linking competition with player development and identification platforms, and by providing meaningful weekly competition culminating in the NPL Finals.
NPLs are independent leagues, unified under one national competition platform, and based on a common technical framework designed to improve long-term player development. The NPL provides a platform:
focused on long-term player development;
for the country’s top soccer clubs, allowing consistent, meaningful high-level games appropriately scheduled with higher training-to-game ratios;
that allows players to be scouted and evaluated by U.S. Soccer National Staff and Technical Advisors;
that is designed and structured by the clubs, based on the needs of the clubs; and
that provides an avenue for qualification for the NPL Champions Cup.
EXECUTING US CLUB SOCCER’S 10-YEAR VISION:
The NPL is an important component of US Club Soccer’s 10-year vision to refine the landscape for competitive youth soccer. This vision recognizes that:
Properly-structured youth soccer clubs are the vehicle through which player development occurs in the United States.
Clubs should play in leagues that provide meaningful games, allow establishment of the proper training-to-game ratio, and eliminate calendar congestion.
NPLs, as well as the best clubs, should be integrated in US Club Soccer’s id2 National Identification and Development Program, include Player Development Programs (PDPs) in select local markets, and work closely with U.S. Soccer staff regarding player identification, and player and coach development.
Beginning in March 2014, the NPL will include an annual NPL Showcase to bring teams from NPLs across the country to one site for intra-league competition and player showcasing. The 2014 NPL Showcase will include U-16, U-17, and U-18 boys age groups and will take place at Heritage Park in suburban Las Vegas, Nev.
The targeted destination for all NPL teams, and the culminating event each season, is the NPL Finals (formerly known as the NPL Champions Cup), where NPL national champions are determined. The NPL Finals feature qualifiers in U-13 through U-18 boys and girls age groups from every NPL across the country in a true “champions league” competition.
MISSION: The Elite Clubs National League, Inc. (“ECNL”) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit member-based organization founded in 2009 to enhance the developmental experience of the female youth soccer players in the United States through:
Improving the competitive environment through creation of a true national competitive league with multiple flights;
Improving the process for identifying elite female soccer players for the U.S. Soccer youth national teams through a systematic scouting and identification program based on national competitions; and
Improving the daily training environment at top female youth soccer clubs through developing best practices and training and organizational guidelines for its member clubs.
GOAL: The goal of the Elite Clubs National League (ECNL) is to change the landscape for elite female soccer players in the United States through innovative, player-centered programming and to enhance the overall experience by creating a better, more enjoyable, and more successful player, coach, and club development model.
What is the United States Soccer Development Academy
Developing the Next Generation U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy program is driven by the game and its players, coaches and referees. This game-centric approach allows for long-term development to occur through a deep understanding of what makes players successful around the world. As the sport of soccer grows in the United States, young players in our country need the proper environment to compete against the world’s elite. The U.S. Soccer Development Academy program provides the optimum developmental environment for the nation’s top youth soccer players, coaches and referees by emphasizing development through quality training and limited, meaningful competition.
Meaningful Training Academy teams spend a greater amount of time focused on training to improve as individuals and as a team. The teams and players receive direct feedback and evaluations from National Team Staff and ProZone video analysis. To round-out the complete training environment, Academy teams are tested in their physical capabilities using the SPARQ testing methodology and their hydration levels by Gatorade. They also receive a SPARQ training curriculum for soccer-specific athletic training and Nutrition and Hydration recommendations from Gatorade’s Sports Science Institute. Each athlete then gains a greater understanding of how they compare physically against their peers and what they need to do to achieve their optimal performance levels.
The Academy program features teams from the top youth clubs from around the country. Each Academy team plays approximately 30 regular season games to ensure all games are meaningful. Games are also played according to FIFA’s Laws of the Game and officiated by a pool of the nation’s top young referees in order to prepare players for the next level of competition. National Team Scouts regularly attend Academy games, so players are evaluated over the course of the season and in their natural positions allowing for better player assessment.
As the program enters its second year, it has already dramatically impacted the player development process in the United States. In 2008, more than 100 players from Academy clubs were included in U.S. Youth National Teams and almost 800 graduates from the inaugural Academy class participated in college soccer the following fall. Virtually all college programs use the Academy program as a scouting vehicle and the program has received increased attention from professional scouts representing domestic and international clubs. Visit ussoccer.com to view the top Academy teams in action.