Eastside Kickers U10 boys moved up to the big time this spring, and continued their stellar track record. After winning the State League Division 2 championship in the fall, the boys moved up to Division I in this spring season and are currently in first place with a sparkling record of 6-1-1. While still playing with a mix of U9s and U10s, this tight-knit team has continued to gain experience and poise at the higher levels of competition. Playing in the Ohio State Cup competition for the first time, the boys held their own against very strong competition and displayed their tenacity. The draw matched the U10s against the eventual State Cup finalist from Toledo in their first game; after being outplayed in the first half and falling behind, ESK played a strong second half to keep the game very competitive. Their second game against a talented Canton United team was again fast and physical, and the boys fought hard in falling 5-3. But the team bounced back in a big way in the group’s final game, scoring a resounding victory against a local Cleveland rival to finish in third place in their State Cup group. The members of the ESK U10 team include: Liam Fluharty, Vince Holland, Alex Hoover, Gabe McKay, Pule Motsamai, Finn Rourke, Nicolas Solomon, Connor Soltis, Connor Underwood, Brody Weinfurtner, Nick West and Max Wheeler The team is led and directed by head coach Tshepo Motsamai, assistant coach Derek Solomon, goalkeeper coach Ed Weinfurtner and manager Nolan Holland.
A year ago a group of parents met at Lee Road's Wine Spot to discuss the soccer future of their sixth grade daughters. The girls had been playing to mixed results in the local travel soccer league. It was decided that night to see just how far these girls could progress with increased commitment, more training, and better competition. The team enlisted the coaching help of former Heights High Varsity Coach, Paul Eyre, and former John Carroll standout, Colleen Harmon. This past weekend in Toledo the parents' question was answered in dramatic fashion as the now U 13 EASTSIDE KICKER Girls' squad played in the most prestigious soccer tournament in Ohio, the Ohio State Cup. Playing a World Cup format the girls found themselves in an extremely tough qualifying group. Entering the final group match the girls needed a convincing win to advance. That they got as the girls rolled over an outstanding Premier Team from Strongsville/Medina to the score of 4-0. With that victory the girls advanced to the Elite 8 in Ohio. A loss in the quarter-finals to one of the Midwest's top teams could not diminish the amazing run of these young women. No one who attended that meeting at the Wine Spot last year ever envisioned such progress. Through hard work and commitment our 7th graders progressed from a local travel team to the Ohio State Cup Elite 8. Well done girls.
[caption id="attachment_1426" align="aligncenter" width="889"] ESK U11 Girls[/caption] In a wet mid-season game to remember, our ESK U11 girls traveled the hour and a half to Mansfield to play in an AASL division 1 game. It rained off and on all the way down to Mansfield, and right up until game time. With minutes to go before game start we had 6 players for an 8v8 game, which meant we were flirting with forfeiting the game. But a seventh player arrived, and after getting through the carding, Mansfield graciously played 7v7. They had plenty of subs, however, and we had none. Playing a weird 3-3 formation, strong on defense and midfield, we went out to 2-1 half time lead. I could tell we were tiring in the muddy conditions, though, with no breaks and water puddling on the field, and at half changed us up to a 3-1-2 formation with 3 in back and a stopper to distribute to two mids who could also run as forwards. In the end, they had no answer for our transition game which cleared the ball quickly, and our first-rate attacking speed and determined team will meant, even without a sub, that we could chase and hold in their zone long enough to win another 30 minutes of play. In the end, we did not let up and claimed a 3-2 win.
For the past few Sundays, the ESK U8 boys have played two hours of Futsal at One Wellness in Eastlake. The boys are divided into teams and play a tournament on two courts. Creativity and individuality are encouraged with little coaching from anyone. The Head Coach of the U8 Group commented "Kids playing with unbounded joy with little or no interference from adults is the way most of the world's greats fell in love with the 'beautiful game'. We are creating an atmosphere that allows a child to explore his relationship with the ball. After all, at this age soccer is about a child and his love for the ball - nothing more; nothing less."
the missionEastside Kickers (ESK), founded in 1983, is a community youth soccer club created by Cleveland Heights/University Heights parent volunteers. Former soccer players, these parents wanted to create greater developmental opportunities beyond recreational soccer offered by the city.