The New York Elite soccer club has only been in existence since 2009.
This weekend, the Clifton-Park based club, founded and directed by Shenendehowa All-American, U.S. Olympian and MLS player Miles Joseph, is sending two boys’ teams to the U.S. Club Soccer National Cup XII in Aurora, Colorado.
“It’s quite an accomplishment,” said Dan Lindemann, a Siena College women’s team assistant who is the head coach of the club’s under-13 team. “This club has only been around a short period of time.”
Lindemann’s U13 team will be joined at the national championships by the club’s U15 team, which is coached by Tom DeFilippis, who has an extensive background playing for local professional teams in addition to his coaching at the youth level.
The U15 team has been placed in one of a pair of four-team pools in the Super group, and opens play against Cleveland FC. The U13s were placed in the four-team Premier division, and draw Chivas All-Stars in their first game. Both tournaments begin Thursday.
Both teams are eager to see how they stack up against programs from bigger population centers.
“There’s still some of the small-town attitude,” said DeFilippis, who has also been an assistant with the Shenendehowa and Ballston Spa varsity teams. “The teams there are going to be no better than us, that’s what we’ve got to believe.”
“Its pretty cool. We get to see how good we are against teams from all over the country,” said Nickolas Kokkinides, one of the captains for the U13 team. “Sometimes you wonder how good you are, if you’re as good as the other teams.”
DeFilippis’ group qualified by winning the Atlantic Soccer League tournament in Greensboro, N.C., in late June. In that tourney, NY Elite knocked off the reigning Maryland state champion, Soccer Alliance of Columbia, through penalty kicks in the semifinals, then beat Yardley Makefield (Pa.) Soccer, 2-1.
That championship game showed DeFilippis that his team was ready for the national stage after finishing fifth in a tightly bunched ASL.
“When we played them early in the year, they hammered us,” he said. “We came from behind to tie them [1-1] on the first day of the championship tournament. I think going into the final, they [FC Elite] were confident they were going to win.
“What they thought was the misfortune of the draw turned out being exactly what made them win the tournament.”
The team is made up of players from a number of Section II schools, including Shenendehowa, Ballston Spa, Niskayuna, Troy, Shaker and Saratoga Springs. Four players have varsity experience.
“You gain camaraderie because its so competitive,” said DeFilippis of the club competition. “Every game is like sectionals. Every team we play is good.
“We don’t have any rock stars. We’re disciplined. We’re steady. We have some speed. We learn quick, and we have just the right amount of toughness, mentally and physically.
“Each time they impress me with something new that they do.”
Like the U15s, the core of the U13 team has been together for some three years.
“Every year, they’ve made progress,” said Lindemann. “Teams that they had lost to when they started out, we beat. The kids are good about that. They’re a smart group, and they work well together.”
Like DeFilippis, Lindemann has turned a collection of players with different playing backgrounds into a solid unit.
“We’ve added some players; the kids kind of recruit some of their friends, so we’ve got a mix of kids from different [school] districts,” he said. “Eight of them were with the ODP team and finished with that last week. It’s a year-round commitment. The only difference between them and the older groups is that they aren’t playing a school schedule.”
“Everybody knows where they’re supposed to be. It’s because we have good coaches, and we’ve been playing together for so long” said Kokkinidies, a center back.
The younger team qualified for nationals by winning the Region I tournament in LaGrangeville over Memorial Day weekend. Since then, they’ve played in some local tournaments, but mainly worked to get ready for a bigger stage,
“We’ll get to see different teams. It will be a good experience for us, and hopefully, we can win,” said Killian Ryan, another of the U13 captains.
David Adediran, Meyer Aviles, Theodore Bruschini, Connor DeFilippis, Nate DeSalvatore, Sean Dory, William Hartl, Alec Hay, Matthew JeanPierre, Chris Jupin, Carl Kernochan, Stephen Klimek, Kyle Landis, Daniel Laurilliard, Jerry Lewandowski, Benjamin Licht, Griffen MacWatters, Ian Starnes.
Jacob Akinyemi, Ethan Behan, Alex Bruno, Alex Chan, Daniel DeSalvatore, Peter DiLauro, Nicholas Evans, Noah Faro, Luke Geczy, Nickolas Kokkinides, Gregory Maccharulo, Aiden May, Gregory Monroe, Justin Oliveira, Tommy Pendergrass, Killian Ryan, Michaelk Scenzo.