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 the Peninsula Premier Eagles (NJ), who earned their Regionals berth through their performance in the US Youth Soccer National League EDP Mid Atlantic Premier I Conference.
Last year at this time, the Peninsula Premier Eagles were preparing for their first season in the US Youth Soccer National League EDP Mid Atlantic Premier I Conference after earning promotion from the second division. Twelve months later, they’re getting ready to make their debut appearance at the US Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championships.
“To be honest, we were very excited to get the opportunity to play in the National League Premier I division,” Head Coach Dan Cummings said. “Initially, we just wanted to be competitive in every game and not get relegated. Once we saw that we could not only compete but also get results, the goal changed to winning the division and qualifying for Regionals.”
Peninsula learned early on that this might be a special season when it defeated STA-MUSC, the No. 1 team in the nation, 1-0 on March 23. The Eagles gained further confidence with a 0-0 draw at the Den of Lions Gunners, a team that had beaten them 3-0 in each of the last two years, on May 19. The squad ended its National League EDP Conference campaign with a 3-2 win at Patriot FC Red that secured second place in the table.
“The competition in the National League EDP Conference was intense,” Cummings noted. “We knew going in that there would be no easy games on the schedule, and the competition in the league bore that out. There was little to separate the top teams in the division from those at the bottom.”
A pair of 2003 Region 1 ODP players, center back Evan Quon and central midfielder Brett Sleg, are the Eagles’ defensive anchors. They are complemented by co-captains Aiden Amankwah and Marco Mastriani, a 2004 New Jersey ODP player. Forwards Thomas Boyan and Chris Osorio-Rodriguez are dangerous scoring threats, while Andrew Paige has been solid in goal.
This season’s Regionals berth is a tangible reward for the work put in by Cummings and his team. It’s the first trip to Regionals for any team from the Peninsula Soccer Club. The Eagles are confident it won’t be their last, though.
“We are looking forward to the growing and bonding experiences that Regionals will provide to our team, both on and off the field,” Cummings remarked. “We want to take in as much as we can and learn as much as possible so that we can make this a consistent run of appearances at Regionals.”
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.