In its first season, Hillsborough County United soccer club won a state championship.
By JEREMY RASMUSSEN
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002
While the national team is making huge, and some might say unexpected, noise at the World Cup, local youth players raised some eyebrows of their own.
Last weekend at the Cocoa Expo Center, several Hillsborough County teams brought home championships from the Florida Youth Soccer Association (FYSA) State Cup.
The biggest surprise came from a team playing its inaugural season: Hillsborough County United soccer club. HCU won a state championship under coaches Jerry Campbell and Jeff Foxenberger, beating Boca Raton 1-0 in sudden death overtime on Eddie Ababio's goal.
HCU's under-13 and under-19 boys, as well as its under-17 girls, also advanced to the State Cup semifinals.
HCU coaching director Adrian Bush said the team's success in its first year was "unbelievable."
"It was a personal goal I had for the club to get at least one team through to Southern Regionals," Bush said. "We definitely made our mark at State Cup. Next year, we'll be looking for eight champions."
"Yes, it's a huge step for the club," said Foxenberger, a 1997 Leto graduate and member of this season's University of Tampa national championship team. "(Bush) has a goal to move us to be one of the best clubs in the state, and to win in our first year is a great first step."
While Campbell has been with the team since it began as a Carrollwood under-9 team, Foxenberger, in his first year with the club, found a "very smart team."
"They understand strategy, and they're very coachable," he said. "All of them have goals they've set. They show a lot of passion, and that makes it easy for me."
The state championship teams are now preparing for the United States Youth Soccer Association (USYSA) Region III Championships in Little Rock, Ark., on June 27 through July 2.
Other Hillsborough State Cup winners were:
Under-19 boys: Black Watch Lightning 3, Clearwater 2.
A pair of goals by Gaither graduate Norris Hartzog and another by Miami's Wes Louis-Saint paced the Lightning to a 3-0 lead, and it held on during a furious late rally by the Chargers for the win.
In his final duties as head coach of Black Watch, Kelvin Jones went out a winner. Jones, who has been director of coaching for Black Watch for seven years, said he would step down at the end of this season. in order to spend more time with his family. His wife is expecting the couple's third child in October.
In Jones' place, former Mutiny and U.S. national team player Steve Trittschuh will take over as director of coaching for junior players. Eckerd College coach Jim DiNoble will direct coaching of the senior players.
Jones is moving on to coach Plant's boys team and said he might start his own small club team.
Black Watch is ranked No. 7 nationally among under-19 club teams, according to GotSoccer.com. The team is also the defending champion of the Tampa Bay Sun Bowl.
Black Watch's under-16 and under-19 girls advanced to the State Cup semifinals.
Behind former Jesuit standouts Stash Graham (goalie) and Scott Golden (defense), the Lightning beat all-comers, including highly-touted Soccer Academy 5-0, Hillsborough County United 2-1 on a golden goal in the semifinals, and old rivals Chargers 3-2 in the final.
Under-13 boys: Brandon FC 2, Miami Strike Force 1.
While the under-16 Brandon Flames failed to reach the final for the first time in six years, their younger counterparts brought home gold.
Coached by Rueben Lopez and assistant Greg Brown, Brandon handed HCU under-13 its second defeat of the year in the semifinals and went on to top Miami in the final.
Under-17 boys: Tampa Bay Kickers 2, Parkland Predators 1.
If it's June, it must be time for another championship for coach Jeff Brattain. This is the fourth state title in the last five years for the Kickers, and the 15th overall for Brattain in 25 years of coaching.
After Bush left to head up HCU, Rivers Guthrie took over as trainer for the Kickers. Despite missing defender Josh Smith with a broken nose, four players with knee injuries, and Brendan Crampton with a red card in the final, the Kickers still held on to win.