PSU Altoona’s Taylor making impact on youth soccer

Since Maurice “Mo” Taylor’s arrival in Altoona more than 25 years ago, his presence and impact in the soccer community has rippled through nearly every team and every player at some point.

Taylor, the Penn State Altoona men’s coach and a native of Jamaica, has coached at every level from recreational to classic along with his coaching work with the PSU Altoona team. Along with serving as the director of coaching for the Altoona Soccer Club for numerous years, Taylor has done countless coaches and player clinics over the years. He was the first coach in our area to take a classic team to the PAWest State Cup championship game.

All of this has been done without any personal ties to the team, but now Taylor has been afforded the opportunity to coach the Blazers, a Classic team which includes his two sons. This team, out of the Altoona Soccer Club, has been together for two years and been undefeated in regular-season play in Division 4, and last year in Division 3 Classic play, it not only went undefeated in its regular-season play in Group A, but outscored its opponents by a 48-1 goal differential in defeating all of its Western Pa. opponents.

In the team’s quest for the State Cup championship, it ran into the powerful U-15 SCS Division 1 Classic team, playing 110 minutes of dead-even soccer, ending in a 1-1 tie, only to lose the decision on penalty kicks. The team consists of players from four different school districts and plays year-round, including outdoor and indoor tourneys as well as beach tournaments. Taylor said the team’s philosophy is “be the best we can be. Set no limits. In addition to working on our soccer skills, we are constantly working on our character skills. We play for each other, not against anyone else.”

With assistant coach Craig Shale, Hollidaysburg Area High School boys head coach, the team has recently placed first in the Hempfield Adidas Classic College Showcase tourney and was the runner-up in the PAWest Futsal State Cup. Next year, the team should advance to Division 2 Classic play as a u-16 team.

It also progressed through an undefeated season with only 14 active players on the roster. Taylor sees this very unique blend of players with unparalleled success continuing to grow next season, and although a PAWest State Cup championship would be a great accomplishment to add to its list, Taylor will continue to take things one game and one tournament at a time.

3 on 3

The Altoona Soccer Club has revived a very popular soccer format, the 3 on 3 games. The 3 on 3 tournaments, which Hoss’s used to hold years ago, were extremely popular for a number of reasons: they required a very small roster so it was easy to form many teams, they required very limited field space, and it is virtually a shooting gallery on the small goals with no keeper with fast-paced action going up and down the field.

The Altoona Club has put together a 3 on 3 league for the summer and should receive a great deal of participation for the endeavor .

Arena ball

On the national scene, the USA Men’s Soccer Team, under the direction of its all-time winningest coach, Bruce Arena, has climbed from last to third in the final round of World Cup qualifying.

The team has not lost yet this year since Arena took over the team. This has given U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati the most positive attitude he has held about the American team in a long time. After two losses in the Cup qualifying under former coach Jurgen Klinsmann, Arena was given charge of the team, and the players have responded extremely well in qualifying for the World Cup with wins over Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago and ties with Panama and Mexico.

Arena formerly led the American men to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals in their best result since the first Cup tournament in 1930.

Tom Schmitt writes a monthly soccer column for the Mirror.