By Randy Vogt, Director of Public Relations, Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association
July 9, 2022-The Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) celebrates Stony Brook Wildlings upon winning the Boys-Under-14 Eastern Regional championship on June 30 in West Virginia.
The Wildlings are one of 11 teams from Eastern New York that will be playing for the national championship from July 19 to 24 at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando.
Back row (left to right): Coach Matthew Mannina, Eliab Rubio, Anthony Puleo, Dylan Lopez, John Caso, Brandon Lopez, Elliot Burgueno, Eli Rubio, Jayden Osmani, Brandon Cruz, Jack Salgado, Coach Lou Puleo
Front row (left to right): Aidan Velasquez, Jason Krol, Liam Moran, James Schneider, Darren Longobardi, Logan Booth Alam, Thomas Albertina, Adrian Munoz
The Wildlings won all six games they played at Regionals, outscoring their opponents 21 to 2. Their quartfinal game was an intriguing match-up with Brentwood Man City Premier, last year’s national finalists, who won the State Cup final by besting the Wildlings in a shootout after tying the match, 3-3.
“The quarterfinal win against Brentwood felt great. They are an extremely talented team. They beat us 2-1 in the State Cup finals last year, and they beat us in penalty kicks in the State Cup finals this year. We wanted redemption, and we got it,” coach Matthew Mannina stated. “Brentwood was also the defending regional champions, so getting past them 2-0 meant eliminating one of the favorites to win the tournament. The game was a battle, but our players fought hard and held them scoreless which is not an easy thing to do with Brentwood’s attacking players. Our keeper, John Caso, had an amazing save with minutes left in the game to preserve the lead.”
Coach Mannina had the Wildlings training eight weekdays in a row leading up to Regionals. He put them through high intensity workouts focusing on speed-based possession, agility, endurance and strength training.
“We became very good at hunting down the ball as a group, and this gave us the edge over teams as pressure is key,” Mannina explained.
Now about the unusual team name, several local coaches were fans of the HBO series, “Game of Thrones.” One suggested naming a newly-formed Boys-Under-7 team something from the show so Mannina suggested the unique name of Wildlings, a tribe in the series. The first year, many of the kids could not pronounce the name correctly and often said “Wild Wings” instead.
Coach Mannina added, “As the boys became older, I thought they would outgrow the name so I asked them every year if they wanted to change it and they replied ’No.’ The name has lasted as it means something to them, particularly those who have been on the team for many years.”
With approximately 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 nine 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/