Published: March 17, 2010
It’s that time of year in New England when old Mother Nature slams her broom down and sends everyone running for cover. Just a reminder that winter is not over yet. For those in the Sunbelt, a Nor’easter is the winter version of a hurricane and brings trouble every time they come up the east coast. In 2008 storms brought over 100 inches of snow and power outages that lasted for weeks. This year was no exception with a recent storm that caused millions in damage and more power outages. Yet the soccer elite from New England are a hardy bunch and they seem to be able to adapt to a lot of challenges that larger more hospitable climates do not have to endure.
Snow paints a backdrop for training. Photo courtesy of Seacoast United.
One club that is not unknown to the northeast, but has been showing up on the national radar is Seacoast United SC in Hampton, New Hampshire. Probably best known recently, for NH native Charlie Davies of the US Mens National Team. Davies played club soccer at Seacoast under the direction of Paul Willis, Executive Director at Seacoast. The clubs teams are attracting a lot of college scouts during their travels to regional and national tournaments, both on the boys’ side and especially on the girls, with several players on regional and national pools.
On being asked about how their club trains in a northern climate, Matt Sprague, General Manager and Director of Womens coaching at Seacoast quotes, “During the winter months our club, for the most part, must move indoors. Luckily we have a 5 field indoor facility that we have the ability to train throughout the winter. Unfortunately, this is a standard indoor soccer facility with boarded fields so the ability to work on large field tactical topics is pretty much thrown out the window until we get back outside. Those clubs that have the ability to train outdoors all year long definitely have a leg up on us. We have to work twice as hard once we get outdoors to catch up in terms of team flow. However, this allows us to put a technical focus on all of our training sessions for at least 3 months out of the year. In the long run this is very beneficial for our players development and advancement to the next level of play. The coaching staffs’ expertise and ability to get the most out of our players, no matter the environment, is one of the secrets to our success.”
Once outdoors, Seacoast boasts a new field turf complex with 4 lighted fields. “Going from 6v6 indoors to 11v11 outdoors is not an easy transition. We can consistently get out doors as early as March. This is an advantage that we have over other teams from our area. We have the ability to plow these fields but because of the frequent snow storms that we receive, we cannot plan a training schedule outdoors.”
Sprague was asked about the geographic disadvantages the club faces from big national clubs in the Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Texas and California, he states, “The population base in this area is certainly a disadvantage. We combat that by developing the population of players that we do have in our area to the best of our ability. Our junior academy starts for players that are 5 years old. We have a number of players in our club that have been loyally with us for 13 years by the time they go off to college. We also have a U16 and U18 boys team in the US Development Academy. Being able to have an impact on players for that long and providing them with a consistent training philosophy is something that separates us from other clubs throughout the country”. Sprague also went on to say that, “Our geography is another disadvantage in that it makes it difficult to find good competition, week in and week out. We are always seeking new ways to get the competition that we need without having to travel 3 to 6 hours to get it. In the current economic condition this has become even more difficult.”
The success of the clubs older groups can be seen with the placement of most all of the girls U18 team. When asked about the success of their players on a regional and national landscape Sprague commented, “We do our best in getting our players the exposure they deserve to all college levels. All of our Premier teams go to a variety of college showcases from PDA, CASL, Jefferson Cup, Las Vegas, to smaller showcase events like the Scorpion Bowl which caters to more local schools in the Northeast. This is a priority for us, if we cant get our players seen, then we have done them a disservice”.
With recruiting starting earlier every year, how has that changed your clubs efforts? “The landscape for showcases is changing and it is our job to stay on top of it and make sure we go where our kids need to go. Our other avenues are the relationships with the different college programs all over the country and the reputation that our players that have gone before have left on the programs they were involved in.”
Rain, snow, or sun - these girls don't stop playing. Photo courtesy of Seacoast United.
Sprague comments that, “Our U18 girls team, has been the reigning state champion for several years and were a region 1 finalist in 2008”. Their regional ranking has consistently been in the top 10 while also being ranked in the top 10 nationally several times. They have won several major tournaments and also participated in the Nike Friendlies at U17 and the majority of the team is also playing NH ODP. Sprague states that “Overall the team was very heavily recruited and numerous players have already committed to Division 1 programs and accepted scholarships. Two players have been selected for the National Player Pool during the course of their young careers, Tori McCombs and Michaela Cowgill. The roster is made up of several 2009 players with late birthdays, mostly 2010’s and one 2011 player, Cowgill.”
On the U18 Seacoast roster there are 15 players who are currently playing or have committed to play this year in college. Emily Lodge (Franklyn Pierce College), Caitlin Peters (Endicott College), Kelly Spencer (U of New Hampshire), Andrea Green (Boston University
), Cally Quinn (Nova Southeastern), Autumn Jordan (Florida Atlantic
), Emma Clark (Boston University
), Kelly Griffin (Miami (FL)
), Emma Furlone (St. Anselm College), Margaret McSpiritt (U of Mass, Lowell), Gaby Ransom (Holy Cross
), Kelsey O’Neil (New Hampshire
), Sara Kelly (Holy Cross
), Tori McCombs (Michigan
), Sara Raye (U of Mass, Lowell).
Seacoast United can boast a successful program in some difficult climate and remote area. Expect to see some more talent around the tournament circles this year from the Nor’easter.