The town of Somers couldn’t have asked for much more in the success that the FC 13U Girls Soccer team had in falling just short of the US Youth Soccer Nationals.
But the FC Somers Arsenal Boys (u17) weren’t quite done talking for the town, and a one goal first half deficit versus Eclipse Select Academy in the semifinals had the team in reach of a national championship.
“The best game I’ve ever seen my team play in five years,” said head coach Milan Davidovic. “The game was very exciting. We had numerous chances. But we couldn’t connect and finished with a 2-1 loss.”
Even so, the coach had no reason to express disappointment in coming up short. “We sure gave it one hell of a go. I am so proud of the boys, and the way they played this season, which was simply superb,” said Davidovic. “I am proud of all the titles that we did win. I would have given my own life for them to pick up the National Championship title, but it just wasn’t to be.”
The second trip to the nationals in three years and a 50-7-2 season record certainly speaks to the sentiment. The season resume also includes winning the New York Open Cup, the Massapequa College Showcase, the Potomac MD College Showcase and reaching the New York State Cup Finals.
The dominance then extended to a pretty easy go in the Southeast Regionals.
“We won 5-0, 5-0, 7-1 and 2-1 to gain the berth,” said Davidovic.
The streak continued in Colorado with three straight group stage victories.
“We beat state champs from Minnesota and Virginia and the second ranked team from Texas,” added Davidovic.
While the 2-1 loss to the eventual champions was not the result the Arsenal was after, the details are more than worthy of mention. On the defensive side, Michael Micceri was an absolute force, according to assistant coach Mark Hopper. “He covers every inch of the field, thwarting the opposition attacks, winning tackles and is highly effective as a starting point for the offense.”
However, the real solidifying force is his voice. When you say Michael on this team, it means something, said Davidovic. “Without him, this team would not be a team.”
Close by, fullbacks Jake Riina and Mason Murphy held tight, while always having an eye upfield. “They were superb in attacking the space down the flanks, whilst never forgetting their defensive duties,” said Hopper.
In the crosshairs, Dwyant Suazo, Max Hechler and Eduardo Godinez never let the team down where it counted most. “They were simply sensational all season long in center defense. Winning almost every battle and saving the team on many occasions, they brought defending to a new level,” asserted Hopper.
At stop gap, goalkeepers Anthony Tucci and Andres Barajas provided stable net skills all season long and came up some crucial saves in important moments, according to Hopper.
On the other end, co-captain Bennett Leitner leads the way. “Leitner was every opposing team’s worst nightmare with his pace and power,” said Hopper. “He gave opposing teams fits all day long — banging in 40 odd goals.”
Together with Jacques Verard and George Popovic, the strike force registered a total of 95 goals, and Michael Lulaj and Elvin Mejia stood up admirably when called upon as subs.
Either way, the Arsenal’s scoring punch wasn’t left in the rear when it came to the midfielders. Christian Torres is tenacious, and Aedan Hopper’s simple short passing ability and composure played perfect complement to Daniel D’Ippolito, said Hooper
53 goals and 60 assists were the final tally. “Daniel is probably the best player in the state,” said Davidovic.
But two wins short of their dream, Davidovic praised his team for satisfying his main goals — sticking together and remaining the family that they are. One more year to go nonetheless, and with the current number one ranking in the nation, taking the whole thing is the sight they are still setting. “We are calling it the last dance,” concluded Davidovic.