Pacesetters win state, fall at regionalsWritten by Gail Burkhardt | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The U17 Pacesetter boys soccer team was victorious at the state championship finals in May, beating the team that knocked Pacesetter out of the championship last year. However, the Northwest Ohio team did not come out on top during the June 25-30 regional championship.
The Pacesetter Soccer Club, located in Sylvania, trains Northwest Ohio children ages 5 to 18 to play soccer and compete around the country. Experienced coaches work with the teams, which are named for players’ ages. Pacesetter boys and girls teams go from U8 to U18. At the U.S. Youth League Region II championships, the U17 team won one game, tied one game and lost one game. No Pacesetter team has ever won the regional championship where highly skilled teams from 13 states compete.
“We felt we could have definitely done better. We were the better team in every game we played. We just got unlucky. We had plenty of chances; we couldn’t finish I guess,” said co-captain Justin Niese.
Despite the regional loss, the team’s coach and captains said they were proud of their state championship title.
“It felt great; it was like a dream come true,” said co-captain Karter Sell who also plays for Perrysburg High School’s soccer team.
Boys on the U17 team come from some of the top high school programs in the area, including St. John’s Jesuit, St. Francis deSales, Sylvania Northview, Ottawa Hills, Lima, Perrysburg and Findlay, said Chip Smith, the team’s coach. The boys typically play high school soccer in the fall and play for the club in the spring, he said.
“We have a pretty broad range, if you look up and down the high school rosters I really feel like we have the best players on our team,” Smith said.
Niese said he enjoys interacting with players from other high schools.
“It’s a unique blend of good quality and fun because you get people from different schools that don’t hang around each other so you get to have a good time,” said Niese, who also plays for St. John’s.
Co-captain Adam Montague, who has verbally committed to play soccer for Michigan State University after he graduates from St. John’s in 2011, said the club team improves his playing skills and helps him lead his high school team.
“You want to be a role model. You try to show them what level you want to be at if you’re going to win games,” Montague said.