PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA
Last weekend, five of our teams left the cold New England weather behind for sunny Florida to compete in the EDP Spring Kickoff in Palm Beach Gardens. The tournament presents a unique opportunity for Northern teams to get valuable competitive minutes during the winter months at incredible facilities in the sunshine state in order to gear up for the fast-approaching Spring Season.
Rhode Island Surf fielded five teams consisting of B2010 Elite, B2010 Central, G2010 Central, B2011 Elite Blue and B2013 Blue coached by Scott Graham, Lucas Santos, Max Philpott, Martin Yarumian and Dan Yarumian, respectively. In a bid to challenge themselves, the two Central teams stepped outside of New England for the very first time, a test that both Santos and Philpott were relishing. Out of the five that made the trip, both B2011 Elite Blue and B2013 Blue were able to come out on top in their respective brackets.
B2011 ELITE BLUE
At their last EDP event, B2011 Elite Blue managed to stay unbeaten before losing the final in a heartbreaking shootout. This time around, their determination to not repeat this scenario was evident from the first kick of a ball. With a perfect record of 4-0 and zero goals conceded (notably down to a penalty save by goalkeeper Nick Bequary in their final game), business was taken care of emphatically.
Upon their return to the Ocean State, Coach Martin Yarumian had this to say about his team's triumph and the event, "The EDP Spring Kickoff in Florida was a fantastic experience for the coaches and players involved. From the immaculate grass fields, the beautiful weather, and top competition, it was a great event to have in our winter program. Our boys 2011 Elite Blue won all four games and whilst keeping four clean sheets against quality competition. To be able to go out there, after a few months off of live games and play the way we did, shows the talent and character of the boys in the team. I'm hoping we can use this as a springboard to another great spring season."
After struggling at the EDP Fall Classic, Coach Dan Yarumian and B2013 Blue were ready to right the ship in Palm Beach Gardens. To say they followed through on this promise is an understatement, as the boys performed excellently behind lead roles from Surf Select Player of the Year nominee Oscar Kincaid and forwards Carter Cathers and Louie Lang. With a record of three wins and one draw, they were able to top their bracket and return to the Ocean State as champions.
"The EDP Spring Kickoff in Florida was a great way to break up our long winter season and get some legitimate 9v9 games against quality opponents," said Yarumian, "The fields and atmosphere out there were absolutely amazing for the boys! It was another great experience for them to keep seeing what is outside of New England following our trip to New Jersey in November. I believe playing against tougher and tougher competition brings out more in you as a player and forces you to compete harder and bring your A-game consistently. We went from really struggling in New Jersey in November, to winning our bracket in Florida this past weekend. I am extremely pleased with the growth of the group and their competitive nature this weekend. I definitely would love to continue to travel for these types of tournaments during the winter months to challenge my teams!"
Following their second-place finish at the EDP Fall Classic, Coach Scott Graham and B2010 Elite once again left New England in search of quality competition as they build towards their Spring season in the USYS National League. Despite a run of unfortunate results in the Sunshine State, a strong defensive display left the group with optimism as they returned home.
"Our Boys 2010 Elite team faced good quality teams in the three group stage games," said Graham, "It's important to play challenging games, as we learn the most from them. I thought we defended well for large periods of the games and responded well to some setbacks. The players showed a strong mentality, which is hugely important as we go into the spring league, state cup and hopefully Regionals."
Seizing the opportunity to expose his Central team to challenges outside of New England, Coach Max Philpott brought his G2010 group to Florida with hopes of stiff tests that would prepare his team for the tough NECSL season ahead. On their second day of play, the team was able to come away with a hard-fought 1-0 win, a promising showing from a group that was getting their first taste of soccer outside of New England.
Philpott had this to say on the group's weekend, "The EDP Spring Kickoff was a fantastic chance for us to get out of our comfort zone and play against some top DPL and USYS Conference opposition. The opportunity to play four games allowed us to work on; deploying varied formations, implementing individual / team feedback and improving overall fitness.
Seeing the girls compete well against top teams shows us where we’re at and I couldn’t be more proud of this group for their work and development as a team so far this season."
With similar goals in mind, Coach Lucas Santos and B2010 Central arrived in Florida looking to challenge themselves in unknown territory competition-wise. Despite a tough weekend of results, the team was pleased with the experience and valuable lessons they were able to take back North with them.
Speaking on the event and how his group faired, Coach Lucas had this to say, "This was the first time the B2010 Central group had a chance to compete in a tournament outside of New England. Although the results didn't land in our favor, we faced strong competition against some of the best teams in the country. This turned out to be a great learning experience on how to play and behave on the field during adversities, compact our defensive lines and work on effective communication and team leadership during those moments. There were a lot of positive points to bring back to Rhode Island and implement in our upcoming tournaments and Spring season. Experience of a lifetime for this group!"