Monday, November 19, 2007

Mainland Maniacs 15-2-1 in SJSL in 2007

Ben and Alex Clark's Mainland United Maniacs under-10 boys soccer team finished this weekend as fall bracket champions with a record of 7 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie (37 goals scored, 17 conceded, +20 goal difference) in the South Jersey Soccer League's Tier 4 that also included teams from Deptford, Hamilton Township North, Moorestown, Cinnaminson and Westmont.
(For perspective's sake, the Maniacs' bracket included the teams ranked 19 through 24 of the total of 78 under-10 teams in the SJSL this fall. There were 13 brackets of 6 teams each, based on ranking, in the age group.)
That follows up a spring championship in the SJSL's Tier 3 that saw the Maniacs post a record of 8 wins, 0 losses and 0 ties (38 goals scored, 10 conceded, +28 goal difference).
So, in calendar year 2007, the Maniacs finished 18 games of SJSL play with a record of 15 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie (75 goals scored, 27 conceded, +48 goal difference) playing in the upper third -- rankings wise -- of a league that literally covers half the state, from Princeton all the way south to Cape May. That is truly something to be proud of, especially for a team from our neck of the woods competing against the 'open clubs' from suburban Philadelphia that have much larger catchment areas from which to draw players! We are essentially a three-town club.
The trio of head coach Tim Donnelly and assistant coaches Sam Nutile and Dave Holak (the three dads have a total of four sons on the team -- Adam Donnelly, Tyler and Nicky Nutile, and Trevor Holak) really have the team playing soccer that's pleasing to the eye. These lads move the ball around. They don't just 'hoof and hope' or have one or two players dribble through the other team. In the spring, 11 of the 14 players scored at least 1 goal and, and in the fall it was also 11 of 14 players scoring at least 1 goal each. That is balance, pure and simple. You can't argue with those numbers.
The Maniacs really cut teams apart with their ball movement. This past weekend, they had two road games. On Saturday, the Maniacs defeated Deptford 5-1 and on Sunday -- in brutally chilly rain and wind -- they defeated Moorestown 6-1. They were two stunning performances to end the season, especially considering how the cold weather has kicked in. As a fan of the 'Beautiful Game' and an admitted soccer aesthete, I must say I very much enjoy watching this team play the game. As many of you know, you can't often say that about a youth team.
The Maniacs also tested themselves against good competition by playing in 3 tournaments in 2007 -- the Vineland and Cohansey tournaments in the spring, and Mount Laurel in the fall. The Maniacs finished those competitions with a record of 1 win, 4 losses and 4 ties (24 goals scored, 30 conceded, -6 goal difference). The four losses were to two teams -- twice beaten by Cape Express Derailers and a Vineland team coached by former pro-player Glenn Carbonara. The Maniacs were right there in those matches, so signs are encouraging in tournament play.

Overall in 2007 -- in both league and tournaments -- the Maniacs' record was 16 wins, 6 losses and 5 ties (99 goals scored, 57 conceded, +42 goal difference). That is simply outstanding!!!!

Six of the boys also finished in third place in their bracket in Mainland's 3 v. 3 tournament this summer, a team that I coached. What's next? One weekend off then the 8-game indoor season begins at Gaetano's in Franklin Township, most likely followed by a second 8-game indoor session at Euro Sports Center in Egg Harbor City. And, finally ... when is the first spring practice ?!?!?!?!