LV United 98 wins three straight tournaments
For most of the area's soccer teams, the high school season ended roughly three months ago.
But while the 2014 season has come to a close, a number of local players have been busy with a club soccer season that has been memorable to say the least.
The Lehigh Valley United (LVU) 98 U-16 boys team, composed of players from 13 different high schools, has won three college showcase tournaments since November 21. The team has won seven of the 10 games it has played in those tournaments to go along with three ties.
Lehigh Valley United is one of the top club soccer teams in nation, ranking 34th in the U-16 division (according to GotSoccer). They are also ranked 17th in Region 1 and No. 4 in Pennsylvania East.
Salisbury's Ethan Heydt is member of the LVU team.
The team's most recent championship came in the 2014 Disney Soccer Showcase in late December. There, LVU went 2-2-0 and defeated East Meadow Hawks 98 in the championship game, 3-2. The Disney Showcase is ranked as the No. 8 tournament in the nation according to GotSoccer's tournament rankings.
"I was proud of the boys," said head coach Dean Koski, who is also the Lehigh University men's soccer head coach. "They competed well throughout the tournament, and did well to find three goals in the final game versus East Meadow."
Prior to the Disney Showcase, a tournament that drew teams from across the country, LVU also won the Pennsylvania Classics Winter College Showcase in early December and the Generation Adidas Bethesda Tournament on November 23.
The LVU team won all three of its games at the PA Classics Winter College Showcase, allowing just one goal across the three-day event. LVU secured the championship after shutting out LYSC Elite 98, 2-0. That tournament is ranked 31st in the country according to GotSoccer.
The team's offense led the way at Generation Adidas Bethesda (the 10th ranked tournament according to GotSoccer), scoring eight goals in LVU's three-game tournament. They defeated West Florida Flames E 98, 5-0, in the championship.
"The tournaments I noted are part of our plan to expose this team to good competition in order to get ready for our EDP, Champions League and State Cup in the spring," said Koski.
While the players spend months competing among one another across the Lehigh Valley, the club soccer season offers a period of time for these competitors to take the field together. Their growth together has been evident over the past couple of months.
"It takes time to build a team, camaraderie, a system and a style," Koski said. "The boys have done a good job of growing closer and welcoming new players.
"The level of commitment and the collective mentality of playing for each other are the most important strengths."
The LVU 98 roster include Caleb Kantor (Easton High School), Brad Brickman (Pleasant Valley), Ryan Paradise (Emmaus), Tyler Andrews (Northampton), Ethan Heydt (Salisbury), Chase Tackett (Liberty), Mezan Abdalla (Freedom), Kacper Grycel (Emmaus), Antonio Tavares (Bethlehem Catholic), Josheph Nguyen (Central Catholic), Talhah Nethernlin (Liberty), Matt McDermott (Stroudsburg), Peter Kwakye-Ackah (Parkland), Mark Stenske (Parkland), Jonathan Blaine (Northwestern), Trevor Koski (Liberty), Douglas Goitia (Pocono Mountain East).