By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
July 29, 2013-Many congratulations to the Smithtown Arsenal of the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) and Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA), who won the Boys-Under-16 national championship on Sunday, July 28. They defeated Georgia’s GSA Phoenix 97 Red, 2-0, in Overland Park, Kansas.
TJ Butzke gathered a loose ball after a scramble in the box and struck it into the net. The 12th minute goal gave Smithtown an early 1-0 lead that its defense would make sure held up. The talented GSA attackers couldn’t break through the New York defense, as the National League Red Division winners failed to find the net with keeper Noah Varonier earning the shutout. Smithtown added an insurance goal by Harrison Weilbacher in the 63rd minute to seal the 2-0 win and bring the national title back to Smithtown.
To earn their way into the final, Smithtown ended the two-year reign of Southern California’s Fullerton Rangers in the final group game. In the Nationals during the past three years, Fullerton had 10 consecutive shutouts. Their shutout and win streak ended when Smithtown’s Christopher Hettler headed in a cross off a free kick in the 18th minute to end Fullerton’s two-year reign by giving Smithtown the 1-0 win.
"Fullerton is one of the best teams in the country on the ball. We felt their one weakness was through the air, so we tried to use that to our advantage," Smithtown captain Steve Dovi stated. "When we got our schedule and saw Fullerton, we knew it was going to be the hardest of the three. They beat us at the national championships two years ago, and we have been waiting for two years to beat them."
Smithtown won all four of their games at Nationals, scoring 10 goals and conceding one. Butzke received the Golden Boot Award while Varonier received the Golden Glove Award.
"The reason for our success is a combination of parental support, our tactical approach plus we have talented players who work hard and have a tremendous personal desire to win," said Smithtown coach Tom Lips. "When we were at the Nationals in Arizona in 2011, we arrived a day before the competition started and never completely adjusted to the heat and time zone difference. This year, we flew to Kansas a few days earlier to get adjusted better."
Lips is a former Eastern New York ODP coach who played professionally with the New England Revolution, Long Island Rough Riders plus FC St. Gallen of the Swiss First Division.
"We're basically a town team," Coach Lips added. "10 of the boys are from the same town and played together in intramurals, through travel ball and now to this level. That's what is most important. We want to create as much opportunity as possible for the boys."
To defray their costs, Eastern New York donated $2,000 to Smithtown for making the Regionals and another $2,000 for qualifying for Nationals plus paid all registration fees.
"I’ve played for Smithtown my entire life, and to bring a national title back to Smithtown, it’s hard to describe," captain Dovi concluded.
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 12 leagues throughout the association, which covers the entire state of New York east of Route 81. Eastern New York 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. Eastern New York 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.
Back row, left to right-Antonio Scanni, Matt Hellerman, Zach Pogrob, Matt Aprile, Chris Abruzzo, Jake Giuffrida, Noah Varonier, Alejandro Ruiz, Garrett Sweeney, Chris Hettler
Front row, left to right-Moosah Khanat, Steve Dovi, Doug Toledo, Casey Abelein, TJ Butzke, Harrison Weilbacher, Beau Hornberger, Steve Braccioforte, Matt McDonnell, Joe Lomonaco