Eight local Scotch Plains/Fanwood boys won the U-14 U.S. Youth Soccer Association “Presidents Cup” National Soccer Championship in Sacramento, CA, earlier this month.
The 8 boys play for the U-14 Metuchen Rovers soccer club. Their incredible journey started this past November as they captured the N.J.Y.S.A. U-14 State Cup this past fall in a stunning, last-minute double overtime victory. That win qualified the team for the President’s Cup eastern regionals, played over Memorial Day weekend in Manchester, New Hampshire.
The Rovers went a perfect 5-0 in the regionals, defeating a team from Massachusetts in the finals, 6-5, thus gaining the opportunity to represent the east coast in the President’s Cup national championship.
Aside from the N.J. Metuchen Rovers, the three other regional finalists were from Georgia (South), Indiana (North), and Washington State (West).
Once play began the Rovers took the long road to the round-robin championship by losing their first game 2-1 to Indiana. The sting of the first loss, as well as a few inspirational words from their coaching staff, inspired the boys to dig deep, as they went on to win the balance of their matches, and make it to the championship game.
In the final match they met an aggressive, determined team from Georgia. With both teams playing a physical, relentless style of soccer, after 70 minutes of regulation play the game was scoreless, and the teams headed to “two, 10-minute overtime sessions” — no small feat in the 100-degree California summer heat.
Fanwood’s own Jake Longo played the hero as he struck in the 79th minute to claim the trophy for Metuchen. The final score was 1–0, with New Jersey triumphing over Georgia.
The SPF local players on the championship team are: Noah Bernstein, Julian Korduba, Jake Longo, Brian McManus, Tyler O’Brien, Ari Rosenzweig, Matt Scariati, and Stav Shadmi. The team was led to victory by their long-time and incredibly dedicated coach Jeff Josell, and assistant coach Mike Holim.