Soccer standouts going national
A pair of local soccer players are heading to the US Youth Soccer National Championship after helping the Lehigh Valley United U14 team to a Region 1 title.
Brian Ly, 14, a Tunkhannock student, and Colby Thomas, 14, a Mountain View student, are both part of the Lehigh Valley team that stormed through the state cup, surrendering no goals through the six-game state run.
At the Region 1 tournament held in early July in West Virginia, teams from the east coast faced off at a chance to go to nationals.
The team went 4-0-1 in the Region 1 tournament to lift themselves up as one of only four teams headed to the national tournament to be held in Kansas City, Kan., from July 19 to 24.
Thomas joined the team three months ago and has played in four big tournaments with the team based near Allentown.
He said the Lehigh Valley team has made it to regionals in four straight seasons, and have finally broken through to the national level.
Thomas found out about the team through friend and teammate Ly, who play together at Riverfront Sports in Scranton.
Coach Greg Ramos got a look at Thomas and ended up picking him up as a forward for the team.
“This is really big for us,” Thomas said. “Finally getting to play in the national tournament.”
The team is mostly comprised of players from Allentown and the surrounding areas, and practices three to four times a week at County Field near Allentown.
Thomas said his role on the team is to control the ball, pass and score, which he travels two hours each way to do several times per week.
His expectations for the national tournament are high, but grounded.
“I think we’re good enough to win it,” Thomas said. “But we’re going to have to go out there and do everything we can.”
Thomas has been playing soccer since he was two-and-a-half years-old when he played on a U6 team at Mountain View.
Much like Ly, who got his start at around four years old.
Ly is a center midfielder who has been a part of the Lehigh Valley team for about a year, after switching over from the SC Delco team in Philadelphia.
Ramos’ Lehigh Valley team played the Delco team and the coach was interested in recruiting Ly to play.
“I’ve been in Lehigh Valley since then,” Ly said. “About a year or so.”
Ly said the journey since going to Lehigh Valley has been phenomenal.
“Making it to the national tournament has been one of the best experiences of my life,” Ly said. “It’s taken us a lot of hard work.”
Ly said that the level of competition in Lehigh Valley’s path to nationals has been extremely difficult and may only get tougher at nationals.
“We have to make sure we are working hard all the time,” Ly said.
Ly said his goals for the national tournament are simple, “win.”
He said that he won’t be happy to take second or third in the tournament.
“That won’t be good enough,” Ly said. “We have to defend against their goals and make sure we perform our roles at all times.”
For Ly and for Thomas, the 2010 season will be the first for both of them on their respective high school varsity soccer teams.
Both said they are looking forward to entering a new level of competition.