Judy Rodriguez photo of Manhattan Paris Saint-Germain. From left to right: Sam Farman, Ousmane Dia, Jack Harrison, Thomas Gatanis, Jeremy Barovick, Daniel O’Grady, Steven Millan, Moctar Niang, Dylan Hennessy, Josh Newman, Michael Stier, Sean Fitzgerald, Sebastian Goicochea, Gabriel Armstrong, Mamoud Kieta, Admir Nejaz, Will Berg, Amara Sesay, Gerardo Amigon, Assistant Coach Gui Stampur, Coach Wilson Egidio, Manager Bill Armstrong. Camera shy-Martin Dedaj
By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
July 31, 2014-Start spreading the news that Manhattan Paris Saint-Germain is bringing the Boys-Under-17 national championship back to New York, New York after a 1-0 shut out of FC Dallas on July 27 at the Maryland SoccerPlex.
On an 84th-minute corner kick, defender Sean Fitzgerald hit a glancing header inside the left post to give Manhattan the win in the national championship game.
“It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life,” Fitzgerald said of the goal. “I’ve always trained, since I’m a big guy, to get that header. It all paid off just for today.”
The team from the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) was able to generate consistent pressure as the game entered its final half-hour as a few half chances threatened the FC Dallas goal. After a couple of failed set pieces, Manhattan earned another chance when Jack Harrison made a speedy run down the right touch line before crossing the ball off a defender for a corner kick.
Manhattan made sure to take advantage of the ensuing corner, as Fitzgerald used his size to beat FC Dallas defenders to the ball and flick it into the side netting.
Keeper Gerardo Amigon won the tournament's Golden Glove as Best Goalkeeper and Harrison received the Golden Ball as Tournament MVP.
The victory was a long time coming for this group of urban players, with three having been together since Boys-Under-9––Thomas Gatanis, Daniel O’Grady and Gabriel Armstrong. With a roster full of players with differing backgrounds and nationalities, the Manhattan championship is truly a story of how the game can bring kids together for a common goal.
“People look at that as a handicap. I don’t think of it that way,” Manhattan coach Wilson Egidio said of his team’s diversity. “We’re all in here for the same goal. It’s a beautiful combination. We’ve got the Upper West Side guys who get driven to work with a driver and other guys who need $2.50 to get on the subway. We all come together in the name of soccer—beautiful soccer.”
To defray their costs, Eastern New York donated $2,000 to Manhattan for making the Regionals and another $2,000 for qualifying for Nationals plus paid all registration fees.
Manhattan went through 16 games from the first round group play games of the State Open Cup back in March to the national championship game without a loss. Showing how competitive play can be in Eastern New York, their friendly rivals, Smithtown Arsenal, were national champions last year.
“It feels great to see that all the work that players, parents and coaching staff put in resulted in victory at the highest level. For the players, it is exposure and all kinds of opportunities,” added Coach Egidio. “The sacrifice paid off as they will have this national championship on their resumes for the rest of the lives. For me personally, I am grateful to the team and parents for trusting me, my style of coaching and game philosophy for all these years.”
With 123,843 youth soccer players––68,587 boys and 55,256 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 Special Children. 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 on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.