Summit changes prove to be success

Anyone observing an indoor soccer game at the Summit Tennis and Athletic Club five years ago and coming back this season to watch an indoor game, would see few, if any, similarities.

Mike Alianiello, soccer director, at the Summit for the last decade, has made indoor soccer there a different game. First, he eliminated the fuzzy, bouncy green indoor balls, used for years, and replaced them with the lower bouncing futsal balls three years ago.

Now, the big wooden blaster boards, which used to surround the court and be used for bouncing passes and shooting off the wall, are gone, replaced by the game of touchline soccer, which resembles the outdoor soccer game a great deal more. The touchline game requires more skilled footwork, as well as more precise passing and shooting, and does more to improve a player’s overall game.

The success of these drastic changes initiated by Alianiello can be seen by the number of teams taking part in his leagues and tournaments and their positive feedback about the changes.

The first league session has been completed with 62 teams taking part. The second session will begin the weekend of Jan. 19-21 and will involve 78 teams from the region.

The season’s first tournament — the Summit Indoor Classic, with approximately 65 teams for ages u-8 to adult — was held on Dec. 2-3.

The Altoona Soccer Club Classic Tournament is on deck, featuring a 7-on-7 format, opening up all the Summit tennis courts for the playing court. The Altoona Soccer Club Classic tourney will bring in players from regional high schools in grades 8-12 with an adult division included.

Tournaments here can range between 65-80 teams. They could go higher, but teams must be limited due to restricted court space. Most participating teams are from the District 6 area, but teams still come in to tournaments from the Pittsburgh and Maryland areas.

Next up is the Summit Winter Challenge, run by Alianiello, on the weekend of Jan. 13-14. All touchline games will be staged on the tennis court.

n The Summit hosted an indoor soccer clinic directed and spearheaded by University of Minnesota-Crookston head soccer coach Joe Alianiello, a former all-state goalkeeper at Altoona Area High School and standout goalie for the Saint Francis Red Flash before stepping into the college coaching ranks.

During his tenure at Minnesota-Crookston, he has turned the program around and made it a perennial contender in its league playoffs. His holiday clinic for area players was well attended, with other local coaches Bruce Makin and Brian Wicker assisting in teaching.

n On the national soccer scene, those who thought former USA Women’s Team Olympic and World Cup goalie Hope Solo had disappeared after being removed from the team for behavioral issues were wrong. Solo has reappeared on the national scene, now running for U.S. Soccer president.

n At the scholastic level, Clearfield High School has broken new ground in providing better refereeing by going with the three-man system instead of the less expensive dual referee system used by most all high schools. Also, Phillipsburg-Osceola School District has totally revamped and remodeled its soccer facility for the upcoming season.

Let’s hope this translates into a larger turnout from the fan base.

Tom Schmitt writes a monthly soccer column for the Mirror.

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