Published: February 16, 2012
Despite it being just February, the next two weeks are massive for the playoff aspirations of McLean Youth Soccer U-18 boys.
Currently top of the table in the South Conference’s Atlantic Division with a division record of 6-0-1, McLean has three games left until a break lasting until June, and are looking to position themselves well for the final four games in the summer.
“We want June to matter, we want these matches to be competitive, and essentially we’re achieving that,” head coach Ed Beach told TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Last weekend provided a stiff challenge, as the team traveled to North Carolina for a pair of weekend matches against Charlotte Soccer Academy and North Meck. The result of the trip was an unbeaten stretch of games, a 1-1 draw and a 2-0 win.
“The Charlotte game was tough, to be fair,” Beach said. “We’re probably happier with the result than they are, they were a really good side. We turned around and did a very good job with North Meck.”
At this stretch of the season, McLean is holding on in the face of a couple of injury problems. Midfielder Greg Boehme
, who has played an integral part of this year’s success, suffered a broken collarbone and separated shoulder against North Meck.
Fortunately, McLean did get another midfielder, Francesco Amorosino, back after he suffered the same injury earlier in the year. The club continues to rely on center back Peter Lam and Sheldon Sullivan in defense, while receiving timely scoring up front from Conor Nogueira and Amardo Oakley.
But perhaps the biggest test for McLean lies ahead this weekend with another trip to North Carolina. On Saturday, they face CASL Chelsea, which has dominated the Atlantic Division of late, before playing the North Carolina Fusion on Sunday.
"We need to manage travel well to Carolina but at the same time we need to take care of business at home as well, so we are in the running [for the playoffs], which was one of our objectives at the beginning of the year."
After the Carolina trip, a final match at home is on the slate at home against the Virginia Rush before McLean has a break in its Development Academy schedule until the beginning of June.
Regardless of how the final stretch of the season plays out from a results perspective, for Beach, it’s been a very good season for his McLean side.
“I’m very pleased with how the players individually and a group have been able to meet the demand that’s been put on them, both in training and the quality of the games too,” he said. “From a results standpoint, we’re pleased, we’re happy, but also from a development standpoint again, I think the players are becoming better players in all phases of the game, especially learning how to manage adversity and competitive situations better.”Travis Clark is a staff reporter at TopDrawerSoccer.com. Follow him on or send him an email.