The US Youth Soccer National Championship Series Eastern Regional Championships will take place from June 27-July 2 in Barboursville, WV. Leading up to the event, EDP will be profiling several of the qualified teams and looking at their journey to this point. The next team featured in the “Road to Regionals” series is Watchung Hills NJ Elite 2006B Litmanen (NJ), which earned its Regionals berth through its performance at the New Jersey Youth Soccer (NJYS) State Cup.
Watchung Hills NJ Elite 2006B has faced pressure before. And the Litmanen responded to that pressure by winning the New Jersey Youth Soccer (NJYS) State Cup for the third straight time and clinching a spot in the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships.
“Winning our third straight State Cup was big for the boys,” Head Coach Jordi Meijer recalled. “It’s a very unusual feat, especially in a state as competitive as New Jersey, but the boys always find a way to perform when it matters.”
That was never more evident than in the State Cup. As the No. 2 team in New Jersey, the Litmanen entered the tournament as one of the favorites. And they played like it. The team captured its third consecutive title to clinch a return trip to Regionals.
“Our goal was to get back to Regionals, which we did,” Meijer said. “Now the next goal is to qualify for Nationals. Don’t think we are going to Regionals just to participate. We are going to win.”
The team’s experience of facing top competition every week can only help as Watchung Hills looks to achieve that goal. Meijer feels that the opposition his squad will face at Regionals is no different than the weekly challenges faced in the National League EDP Conference and NJYS State Cup. And his team is ready for it.
Meijer is also impressed with the Litmanen’s commitment to the objective, a commitment that is shared by the players, coaches and parents alike. In addition to that camaraderie, Watchung Hills boasts a very balanced roster with talented players at every position, which is another reason this team thinks is at an advantage as it heads to Regionals.
“These experiences aren’t necessarily about winning (although you can’t tell by the boys’ preparation!),” he noted. “The team will long cherish the memories of fighting for something together.”
Founded in 1999, Elite Development Program Soccer (EDP) is one of the largest organizers of youth soccer leagues and tournaments in the U.S. EDP operates youth leagues for boys and girls ages 9-19, conducts a Futures program for players ages 7-11, and operates U20/23 men’s and women’s leagues. EDP also runs over 20 tournaments each year. One of the major priorities of EDP’s leagues and tournaments is to enable soccer players to reach their full potential, with an emphasis on attending college. More than 3,500 teams participate in EDP’s leagues and more than 170,000 players compete in EDP tournaments annually. For more information on EDP, visit www.edpsoccer.com.