Exhibition soccer league attracts major numbers

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Kevin Colley

PDT Sports Contributor

With Northwest, Waverly, and Wheelersburg all adding girls soccer programs over the past three seasons, it is clear that the sport of soccer is beginning to gain major legs in the southern Ohio area.

However, the rise of soccer across the region – and the United States – seems to be benefiting more than the high schools that encompass the immediate area.

This is evident in a soccer league that took place over the summer under the direction of Shawnee State University students as Jordan Hyland, Andrew Kelly, and Emma Shoemaker formed a soccer league in an effort to give high school and collegiate athletes, as well as other soccer enthusiasts, an opportunity to play in the summer.

The Adult Soccer League, which was held at the West Portsmouth Youth Complex, gave approximately 100 individuals the chance to participate in seven-versus-seven (or 7v7) summer action to brush up on their soccer skills over the latter half of the spring season.

“We played on the old football practice fields at The Complex,” Hyland said of the ASL. “We had nine teams participate in the first season with each game consisting of two 35-minute halves.”

The overall format of the Adult Soccer League, as well as the efforts by Hyland, Kelly, and Shoemaker to spread the word of the league through social media, allowed them to attract various amounts of participants, according to Hyland, who also serves as an assistant coach for West high school’s soccer program.

“We had players from at least seven different countries play in the Adult Soccer League,” Hyland said. “We had college professors, Shawnee State players, high school players participate and even had several people drive from as far as Gallipolis to play in our league.”

As far as the teams were concerned, Hyland said that most of the teams were already picked out by the participants in the league.

“We put out flyers and posted announcements online,” Hyland said. “We let the players pick their own teams and pay the fee to play. Most of the soccer players in the county had their own teams picked out before we started playing.”

Through the efforts of the trio, the ASL was able to host a total of nine teams, with an official postseason tournament being set up for the top six teams in the standings. Games were played on Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons.

“The top six made the postseason,” Hyland said. “The postseason format followed a format akin to the NFL; where the 3 seed played the 6 seed and the 4 seed played the 5 seed. Then the 1 seed plays the lowest winning seed and the 2 seed plays the other winning seed from the first round. The winners of the semifinal games then played for the championship.”

In the title game, Baja Blast beat Hyland’s team, Haven’t Got a Kalou, by a 2-1 tally. Baja Blast was comprised of soccer players that graduated from Clay, Minford, and Wheelersburg, respectively.

In addition to the league championship, the league gave out an individual award, the Golden Boot, which was given to Juan Perez of Barcelona Jr. Perez had 39 goals in 11 games for an average of 3.55 goals per contest.

Hyland said that the league far exceeded his overall expectations and said that the league has the potential to grow into a full 11-versus-11 league in the future.

“It was a huge success,” Hyland said. “We expected four or five teams to participate, so we planned on playing on Wednesday nights only. However, we ended up having 10 teams sign up to play, so we ended up playing on Wednesdays and Sundays. Although one team dropped out, that’s still around twice as many as we expected. It’s overwhelming. I believe that we can eventually turn the league into 11v11. That’s what my hopes are for the future, at least.”

Overall, Hyland believes that the league can only add to the level of exposure that soccer is beginning to obtain across Southern Ohio.

“I really feel that this league will continue to help the quality of soccer at both the high school and collegiate levels,” Hyland said. “I’ve actually been talking to people who are interested in starting a club team in the area. The interest is just going to continue to grow as the sport gains more exposure across the region.”

For more information, contact Jordan Hyland at [email protected] or contact Hyland at (740) 352-4900.

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