Volume 74, Number 19 | September 08 - 14 , 2004

Sports

Coach April Bottman and the Cosmopolitan Tigers U-10 Girls Select Team at the East Meadow Tournament.

A select group of players win tournament trophies

By Judith Stiles

While women on the U.S. National Team were fighting for the gold in overtime against Brazil in the Olympics, our 10-year-old girls from New York City were busy battling top regional teams at the East Meadow Soccer Tournament on Long Island. For the first year ever, the Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League sent not one, but two, U-10 (under 10-years-old) Girls Select Teams to compete in this well-known tournament. Both teams were made up of talented players from soccer clubs in the five boroughs who convened this summer to enter tournaments, and like thousands of other girls on teams around the country, they jumped for joy when the U.S.A. took home the gold.

The number of youth playing soccer in the U.S. is estimated at 3.2 million and growing, making it the number one, most popular youth sport in front of Little League baseball, according to Larry Miller, founder of BackoftheNet.com, an enormously popular Web site based on Long Island. While many soccer clubs are experiencing a spike in the number of girls playing soccer, clubs from Brooklyn and Manhattan are struggling to keep up with the demand for coaches and field space for young girls, as they try to respond to girls as young as 6 who want to join a team.

This fall, Cosmopolitan Junior Soccer League in partnership with Downtown United Soccer Club is hosting free soccer clinics for girls 8-10 years old who want to learn about the game and have some fun competing in their first tournament. Thanks to Ed Vargas of the New York City Parks Department, the gala tournaments will be held at Keyspan Park on the turf field right near the famous Cyclone at Coney Island. There will be instruction from coaches Roberto Ramirez and Gustavo Palomino of Downtown United, as well as college players from the womens’ team at Ramapo College.

The games will be small-sided with five players on a team. Girls, put on your sneakers and comfortable sporty clothes, and find five girlfriends who would like to give soccer a try. Not only is no experience necessary, but the coaches prefer it, as they are eager to teach the newcomers.

Out of the mini-tournaments the Cosmopolitan League hopes to group some of these girls together to form travel teams for next season, spring 2005, and who knows, they may find themselves at an East Meadow Tournament in the “big leagues” by next summer.

At East Meadow this year, Coach April Bottman led her team, the Cosmopolitan United Tigers, to a third-place trophy (missing second place by goal differential) with outstanding goals scored mostly by the youngest members, Brianna, 8, and Ariella Armand, 9. Look out 2015 U.S. National Team because there are four Armand sisters playing soccer, getting better every year. And don’t forget 8-year-old Erika Flores who plays for BW Gottschee in the fall — she had a hat trick, or three goals in the same game, while playing for the Tigers. At the end of the tournament, Coach Bottman noted the girls had made tremendous progress in passing, dribbling and playing as team, which made her more happy than the trophy.

Also at East Meadow, veteran Coach Tom Siller of the Cosmopolitan United Rising Stars led his team to a second-place trophy in a tougher division, even though the tournament directors forced them to forfeit Monday’s final game. The Rising Stars had pleaded with the tournament director to play all their games on Saturday and Sunday, stating it would be extremely difficult to play their final game on a Monday, with parents having to work and traffic snarls caused by the R.N.C. The tournament directors could not arrange for the Rising Stars to play their third game on Sunday and assumed the team would automatically forfeit, never checking with Coach Siller to see if there was any way on earth to get to the tournament on Monday. Coach Siller called Eric Young, one of the directors, and said the parents and team would go “through hoops of fire” to play their final game after all, and would in fact be ready to play on Monday. “Too late,” declared Young, unwilling to try and get a referee and a field to simply play the match.

However, Cosmopolitan United Rising Stars still snagged second place with a strong team that was missing three of its starters. How did they do it? Meghan Siller of Staten Island played like a champion, scoring five goals in four games with two assists, leading her team to victory, bringing home another trophy for the C.J.S.L. Girls Select Teams, to a trophy case that is getting a bit crowded in four short years.

To pre-register for the citywide Girls Mini-Tournament, Sat. Sept. 25 at 10:30 a.m. and Sat. Oct. 16 at 10:30 a.m. at Keyspan Park in Brooklyn, e-mail Joodeeth@aol.com or call 646-456-8453.

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