By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
July 21, 2016-The prestigious James McGuire Cup, named after a Brooklyn resident who became President of the United States Soccer Federation, is the oldest trophy in youth soccer. It has been awarded to the Boys-Under-19 champs every year since 1935, with the exception of the break taken during World War II, and is currently held by a Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL) team, the Massapequa Arsenal.
Next week, a LIJSL team with a similar name, Smithtown Arsenal, will attempt to keep the McGuire Cup on Long Island. Smithtown qualified for Nationals, from July 25 to 31 in Frisco, Texas, by winning Regionals from June 30 to July 5 in Barboursville, West Virginia. Smithtown was 3-0-0 to finish first in their group and won the semifinals with a 1-0 win over Massachusetts’ FC Blazers with Noah Varonier getting the shutout in goal. The final was a scoreless draw against Baltimore Celtic and Smithtown became Regional champs with a 7-6 win in the shootout. Harrison Weilbacher, Alejandro Ruiz, Matt McDonnell, Moosah Khanat, Ryan Willoughby, Chris Hettler and Justin Cebollero converted their penalty kicks for Smithtown.
Smithtown is one of the best teams in the history of both the LIJSL and its parent organization, the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA), as they have won four State Open Cups, three Regional titles and the 2013 Boys-Under-16 national championship.
“The players have always believed in themselves and each other and they have the confidence going into every game that they’re going to win,“ explained Smithtown coach Chris Sweeney. “All the players work jobs and it has been tough on them to juggle their schedules to fit all the soccer in, but they do it because they are committed to winning their second national championship.“
Smithtown is currently practicing several times a week and playing friendlies to prepare for Nationals, including against the Boys-Under-18 Dix Hills Elite, also representing Eastern New York in Texas next week. It’s a very tight group as Arsenal players who could not play this year still came to the State Open Cup finals to root on their teammates.
And while Smithtown was winning Regionals, Jack Harrison, one of the star players on Smithtown rival Manhattan Paris Saint-Germain, was honored as MLS Player of the Week for having one goal and an assist in NYCFC’s 2-0 victory over the Red Bulls on July 3 at Yankee Stadium. It was the first time ever that NYCFC won the Hudson River derby.
Back row, left to right: Coach Chris Sweeney, Nick Giordano, Alejandro Ruiz, Nikosi Burgess, Justin Cebollero, Moosah Khanat, Chris Hettler, Matt Aprile, Matt Hellerman, Beau Hornberger, Noah Varonier, Garrett Sweeney, Coach Dan McDonnell
Front row, left to right: Nick Maldarella, Steve Braccioforte, Steve Dovi, Fernando Cortez, Harrison Weilbacher, TJ Butzke, Casey Abelein, Ryan Willoughby, Matt McDonnell, Chris Abruzzo, Joe Lomonaco, Coach Tom Lips
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 on to http://www.enysoccer.com/, which receives nearly 300,000 hits annually from the growing soccer community.