Last week, the Delaware FC 16-U boys soccer team took home the US Club Soccer Eastern National Premier League Championship in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
The team, featuring a number of standouts from throughout the state, went toe-to-toe with some of the best in the 16U age group, going 4-0-1 in the tournament overall.
“It’s extremely competitive, you’re looking at group winners and top level teams that fall under the EPL, it’s an extremely competitive event,” said Delaware FC Head Coach Erik Temple. “The talent ranges throughout the entire east coast, we played teams from Ohio, South Carolina, from all over the place.”
Delaware FC opened the tournament with an impressive 5-1 decision over FCUSA, followed by a 3-1 win over CESA in their second game. After a tie, 1-1, against Maryland United, Delaware FC advanced after a 2-1 win over CSA Impact United to the Eastern National Premier League Championship Game where they’d knock off Phila Ukrainian Nationals, 2-0.
The team was made up of talented high school aged players 16 and under from all over the state including Nicholas Balbierer, Cody Niggebrugge, Colby Niggebrugge, Alex Whittaker and Alex Krumencacker from Salesianum High School’s powerhouse program, along with St. Mark’s High School standouts Sean Lenderman and Michael Ranegan, Wilmington Friends’ Oryem Kilama and Sussex Tech’s Patrick Short.
Two years ago USA Soccer changed the age parameters for teams from academic year to birth year, meaning aside from a few changes to the roster here and there, this year’s Delaware FC team has been playing together for two years.
“The landscape of soccer is a little crazy, high school is so important for comradery but these kids spend a lot more time with their club teams, sticking with the academies they’re in,” Temple said. “It’s fun to see the guy’s trash talk in high school games, but I think they all really look forward to playing together in the summer.”
Playing against top-notch talent, brining your very best as a team is paramount to success, especially in such a big tournament.
Overall, including Delaware FC, the tournament was made up of 14 total teams separated into three flights. Delaware FC finished in the top spot in Flight A, outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 13-4.
When it comes to the success the team had over the five-day tournament, Coach Temple couldn’t be more proud of what they accomplished.
“I think just the depth of the group and the commitment of the group really helped us succeed, it was a long weekend with five games in five days, up in the Boston area, on the the turf some days it was near 100 degrees,” Temple said. “We had 17 guys who all had a role, some guys expanded on their roles and it gave us the ability to win.”