Area soccer teams do Central Pa. proud

The Central Pennsylvania region has not been known as a hot spot for soccer over the years, but several huge wins by area teams have done a great deal to turn that around.

The state PIAA Class 2A championship won by the Bedford Area High School girls, the PA West state championship win by the Hollidaysburg Soccer Association Division 1 Classic Blazer squad, and having its coach, Patrick “Mo” Taylor named PAWest Coach of the Year, all added up to a great deal of success for our area in being competitive on the state level and beyond.

Now, two additional teams from our area, playing classic soccer, came out big winners in the 2019 Presidents Cup Tournament played in April in Pittsburgh. They both will move on to compete for regional championships in West Virginia. The U16 Hooligans from the Hollidaysburg Soccer Association won its bracket in the Presidents Cup by defeating the Hotspurs, 3-1, in the finals at Kiski.

This was the only goal the Hooligans, coached by Brian Henson and Mike Pastore, gave up the entire tournament. The Hooligans have been undefeated in Division 1 Classic League play and won every tournament they have entered thus far this year.

Last year, playing in Division 2 Classic, they went undefeated and outscored opponents by a 12-1 margin. Pastore credits an incredibly strong defense as the biggest key to the team’s success, along with timely scoring at clutch moments. The Hooligans are currently ranked No. 9 in the state. The Presidents Cup next level of play in West Virginia will take place during Father’s Day weekend with regular games taking place Friday-Sunday, and the semifinals on Monday with the finals being held that Tuesday.

The Centre Union (2003 girls) U16 team, coached by Altoona’s Derek Winterburn, came out as champions at the PAWest Presidents Cup tourney as well. It will now proceed to regionals to face some very stiff competition. This group of girls has played consistently well in league play as well as tournament play. Should the girls capture the championship there, they would move on to the finals of the Presidents Cup held in Tennessee in July.

These two teams have done a great deal to bolster the success of soccer in our region and gain the area a great deal of respect in the soccer community at the state level.

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The Penn State women’s soccer squad and its coaches held a fan appreciation clinic for boys and girls in grades K-8 on April 17 at Jeffrey Soccer Practice Field.

The clinic for the players was followed by an autograph session with players and coaches.

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The Hershey Soccer Club will hold several tourneys this summer which should be attended by some of the top area teams.

Those include the Memorial Day Challenge on May 24-26, the Summer Classic on June 15-16, and the Hershey Cup on Aug. 10-11. Hershey bills them as ” the sweetest tournaments on earth.”

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Many of the usual referee issues which clubs face during the busy spring season have been handled well this year.

Many youth referees are getting certified to handle games. The idea of getting high school players certified to do PAWest games is that hopefully they can continue handling games through their collegiate years and for years to come following that.

Tom Schmitt writes a monthly soccer column for the Mirror.

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