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Recreation: Twice is nice for FASA

TEAMS MAKE TOP

TOURNAMENT AGAIN

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

THE FREE LANCE–STAR

Two Fredericksburg Area Soccer Association programs have qualified for a prestigious national tournament for the second year in a row.

Both teams have a similar mission—redemption—when they arrive at the United Soccer Leagues Super Y national tournament, Dec. 7–11 in Bradenton, Fla.

The FASA Hotspur ’98 13-and-under boys team qualified for nationals last season, but was hit with injuries between the time it qualified in August and when the games were played in December.

The FASA Impact Elite 16-and-under girls squad made it to the national semifinals last December before a heartbreaking loss to a team from Kalamazoo, Mich., on penalty kicks.

Kalamazoo went on to win the national championship, 4–0, and the Impact Elite were left to wonder what could’ve been.

“It left a very sour taste in our mouth,” coach and FASA general manager Pete Cinalli said. “I was excited for the kids because they worked so hard and played so well that game. We hit the post twice. We did all the things that you remember over and over. We left there and said: ‘We’re coming back.’ That was our goal.”

The Impact Elite achieved that goal with a top-two finish in South Atlantic Division play this past summer.

The Hotspur ’98 boys took a similar path to reach nationals. They finished divisional play with a 7–1–4 record.

Their goal was to reach nationals again, because in 2011, standout striker Nolan Marine suffered a broken hip after qualifying play. The team had other injuries, as well.

“You don’t know how bad I want to play,” Marine said of the upcoming tournament. “I didn’t like having to watch all those games.”

His father, head coach Keith Marine, said this season, the team is “healthy and ready to go.” It is coming off a championship victory in a recent 10-team tournament in Pennsylvania and wants to make amends.

“[Last year] was very disappointing,” Keith Marine said. “That’s why they worked very hard this summer to get back. The night we won the game to get back, they were pouring water on each other. They were so excited to have the opportunity to go back and to compete.”

Both teams have players from Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania and Stafford. The boys will get a boost from Ryan Hanna, who lives in Florida during the winter, but visits his grandparents in Tappahannock every summer.

Hanna plays with the team during the summer and will rejoin his teammates in Florida next week.

“It’s a unique group of kids that have played together for five years,” Keith Marine said. “They train hard, they’re talented. They have all those intangibles.”

Keith Marine said he’s proud of this group of players because of the way they’ve bonded. Super Y begins with 12–under play, so the team has qualified for nationals both years it has been eligible to do so.

“We’ve been good because of the way we work together,” said Randy Arnold, an eighth-grader at Rodney Thompson Middle School in Stafford.

Cinalli said great teamwork is a staple of the girls’ success, too. He and Marine said the new artificial turf practice facility at the Fredericksburg Field House has helped the development of the entire FASA program.

The field opened in July and FASA has a five-year contract to train on it four nights a week year-round. The two teams are hoping the training pays off next weekend.

“It’s a really big deal,” FASA Director of Coaching Mike Webb said of the Super Y national tournament. “There will be a lot of college people down there. There will be a lot of chances for the kids to get looks. So, to have a team on the boys and girls side is a really positive thing for the club.”

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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