By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
The players on the Match Fit Academy U17 boys soccer team have stayed together and won together a group.
The team recently captured its second straight State Cup and with it qualified for the regional championships that will be held June 30-July 5 in Barboursville, WV.
“A lot of these boys have played together the last four or five years,” said Pete Kay, Match Fit’s Director of Coaching and the coach of the U17 team.
The roster includes three players from the West Windsor-Plainsboro high schools, Vincenzo Pugliese from WW-P North, as well as Anthony Amore and David Philbin from WW-P South. There are also seven players who play for the Peddie School — Grant Conaghan, Sean Dailey, Jacob Green, Brendan Mulligan, Mac Naggar, Adedeji Palmer and Martin Scessanga.
The players stayed together in large part because in addition to playing together on their club team, they also enjoyed being able to play for their high school team. Being able to do that isn’t always the case in youth soccer.
“One of the mandates they make with academy soccer is you can’t play high school soccer and these guys want to play high school ball,” Kay said. “So we pulled out of that particular league and started as a club team two years ago. A good core of them have been together the last four or five years. They have great chemistry on and off the field. It is a good mix of talent.
“Probably given the success that we have enjoyed that has helped keep them together. The main goal for our club for the older teams is that we want to place kids in college and help them get there. We have had some great college commitments already to some big schools.”
Prior to winning the State Cup, the Match Fit team played well and had success at several other tournaments. They played in a showcase event in Bethesda, Md. in November and another at the Disney Showcase in December, which the team won.
“The boys won a high level flight,” Kay said. “That was where they got a lot of college exposure. We also played in a showcase in Richmond in March where they played against some high level competition. By winning the State Cup they qualified for regions in West Virginia and if they advance through that they would go to the national championships in Frisco, Texas at the end of July.”
Last year the team reached the semifinals at regionals and lost a tough 1-0 decision. This year they would like to go a step further.
“That is certainly a goal,” Kay said. “This team has won back to back State Cup titles and got to the semifinals at regional last year. The goal this year is to go back and show well and compete. There are some very high level teams in the region.”
Count Match Fit as one of them as the team looks to compete with the very best later this month.
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor