High-Scoring Long Island PRemier 14U Boys win US YOUTH SOCCER NATIONAL LEAGUE
NORTH ATLANTIC EDP CONFERENCE
There is little doubt that Elvin Vasquez has one talented team that plays in the US Youth Soccer North Atlantic EDP Conference Boys 14U Premier I League.
Long Island Premier FC
captured the Boys 14U division with an 8-1 record, having outscored its opposition, 23-8.
Yet, the New York-based side most impressed its coach when it wasn't hitting all its cylinders against Future SA on Sept. 29.
Yet, Long Island managed a 1-0 victory more recently at Northeast Elementary School in Amityville, N.Y.
"That's the game we didn't play good, but they pulled the game off," Vasquez said. "Even though we couldn't play the way we wanted to, those are the games that sometimes when you don't play the way you're supposed to, you work hard and you put your heart into it and you come together as a team. I think that was the game that brought the boys together and made them stronger."
In other words, while talent might be vital to a team's success, there are other aspects to the game as well.
"Exactly, exactly," Vasquez said. "That's one thing that I always teach. When we can't play the way we know how to play the way we want you guys to play, just work hard, work as a team, work together. Hard work pays off. Most of the time it pays off. And if it doesn't pay off, hard work is always good things to see."
Long Island Premier clinched the fall title with a couple of games remaining. "It's always nice to see that," the head coach said.
In the past few seasons, LI was always in the mix, battling for the league lead or title, but had fallen short, finishing second or third.
"But because we were trying to play good, we lost games that cost us the season," Vasquez said. "That's what makes it so special this season. We still kept our game. They still played the game we were teaching them. This time we were able to win the league. That made it special. They made it very unique for the boys as well. Eventually, as you get older, playing good soccer, playing the right way is going to give you what you're looking for, what you want. That's what makes it very special with them because they were able to finally to understand that you can play good soccer and win at the same time. And they saw it this season."
This year, the squad put it all together.
"The season it went good, it went good," Vasquez said. "It started a little slow with the boys getting into the game, our game fitness and stuff. Once they got into that rhythm, we started playing very good soccer, every single player started playing good. With that, the results came. It's always nice to see when you play good you get the results as well.
"It was tough. It wasn't easy. It wasn't as easy as it may look. It was a hard, difficult season. We played some difficult teams, some well-coached teams. Some teams are very strong and try to play the right way, which is nice to see. The boys did great."
Vasquez's expectations for his team was simple and to the point: improve individually and as a team.
From that, winning will take its course. And in this case, it did and then some.
"My expectation every season is to be better, making sure the other players are better than when they started, the team is better than when the season started, the developmental part of the players, which is the most important thing to us, at Premier FC," Vasquez said. "We started at a certain level. Our goal is for at the end of the season each player to be that much better than we started. If we win, it's even better because the boys are able to see you are able to play good soccer and win. Sometimes it doesn't go that way. ... By the end of the season, they feel they got that much better that they are more confident with the ball and work on the mental part of the game, which is very important."
Vasquez was most encouraged by the many cultures that fused together to form a winning closely bonded side. LI Premier included players from South and Central America, the Caribbean and the United States.
"It’s very nice to get along," he said. "The parents, the players, we all want the same thing for the program. It's about the boys playing the game, learning to play the game, developing, having a good time, but learning at the same time. Enjoying the game. When they're on the field, they're one team there are no nationalities. There's just one goal for everyone and that's to play the game the right way."
While Vasquez has stressed that soccer is a team game, he has realized that he has a key player or two. One is Eric Martinez.
"Eric is a standout player," Vasquez said. "The team is always backing him up. The team is always working hard for him and he's always working for the team. It’s a nice little thing to see."
Hugo Rodriguez is another player.
"They're our top-level players," Vasquez said. "The boys are working together with them and make them even better. I definitely would give the team the credit. We have those players who make the difference. They know what we have. They all know what we can do and they work hard together."
That's when the team will celebrate winning the fall season championship and other teams in the club that won as well.
"We have different nationalities, different ethnic groups," Vasquez said. "We ask everyone to bring a typical dish from their country and we all do something at the field, which is nice. Everybody, the whole club is together there."
And it's never too early to start looking ahead to the spring. Vasquez said he was considering several competitions, including the EDP Spring Classic
March 16-17, 2019, "which we've done before."
"It's a great start, a great preseason event," he said. "It gets the teams ready for the season."
As it turns out, LI Premier certainly had a great fall season.