By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
March 8, 2018-When the Boys South 1999 Olympic Development Program (ODP) team of the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) won the Boys-Under-16 national championship two years ago, goalkeeper Tyler McElhinney was a very bright star of the Final Four. Eastern New York had to overcome the Arizona heat, especially since they had been training during the New York winter, as well as having a player sent off early in the second half of both the semifinal and final. McElhinney had a shutout during 240 minutes of play, saved three penalty kicks in the shootout and scored on both his shootout attempts.
“This was the best group of kids I have ever coached in three decades of coaching,” Ralph Pascarella, head coach of 1999 Boys South ODP, said after winning the national title. “All 18 guys bought into team first and everybody played a role and contributed, through two overtime games and two shootouts. Blake Aronson and Matt Sloan were great leaders on the field and Tyler McElhinney would have gotten MVP if the Final Four had that award.”
McElhinney did not stop there as he was selected Conference A1 Player of the Year and All-State and All-Region by the United Soccer Coaches while playing for Jericho High School, named to the ODP Interregional Event Best XI in 2016 and was also honored as Migilor Portiere (Best Goalkeeper) at the 20th Annual Piccole Squadre Torneo in Italy six years ago.
The Jericho resident started playing soccer as a field player when he was five years old. At age 11, he followed in the footsteps of his brother Conor and became a goalkeeper. He has excelled in goal for Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) teams Jericho Galaxy, Syosset Warriors, East Meadow Hawks 98s and the Dix Hills Hurricanes, his current squad.
Dani Braga is his coach at Jericho High School who helped lead St. John’s University to the 1996 NCAA national championship in goal and said, “Tyler has grown as a person and a goalkeeper by leaps and bounds since I first coached him in 8th Grade. He is a sponge of the game and I have always been a tougher critic of Tyler both as his coach and a former goalkeeper, but he has always kept a level head and has shown he can succeed. I’m happy for Tyler for the many awards he has deservedly won.”
LISRA President Cathy Caldwell with Rising Star Award winner Tyler McElhinney
He took another important step in his career when he became a ref at age 12.
“I started refereeing because I was constantly watching soccer at such a young age and I found myself as a volunteer linesman on a few occasions. I figured taking the referee course was a great way to stay in shape, stay involved in the game and make some extra money on the side,” he explained.
It was a quick climb up the referee ladder as Tyler officiated a final in the Danone Nations Cup and received the Rising Star Award this winter from the Long Island Soccer Referee Association (LISRA).
“Tyler is one of the most dependable, knowledgeable, and professional young men to rise in LISRA’s ranks,” said LISRA President Cathy Caldwell. “His demeanor on the pitch and dedication to learn and perfect his officiating is admirable. It is my pleasure to watch him evolve into a terrific referee.”
After he graduates from Jericho High School this June, he will be off to Baltimore to play for the Greyhounds of Loyola University. And as for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day, this proud Irish-American will be appropriately refereeing on a field named after another proud Irish-American when he refs at the Peter Collins Soccer Park in Plainview.
With over 100,000 youth soccer players––both boys and girls––and more than 25,000 volunteers, the non-profit Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) stretches from Montauk Point, Long Island to the Canadian border. Members are affiliated with 11 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. ENYYSA exists to promote and enhance the game of soccer for children and teenagers between the ages of 5 and 19 years old, and to encourage the healthy development of youth players, coaches, referees and administrators. All levels of soccer are offered––from intramural, travel team and premier players as well as Children With Special Needs. No child who wants to play soccer is turned away. ENYYSA is a proud member of the United States Soccer Federation and United States Youth Soccer Association. For more information, please log onto http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.