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November 28, 2017-Three teams from Suffolk County and one from Nassau County came to the Peter Collins Soccer Park in Plainview last Saturday, November 25, looking to earn a trip to Dallas. IberCup USA, to be played from March 28 to April 1, 2018 in Texas, had extended an invitation to the top Boys-Under-14 team from the Long Island Junior Soccer League (LIJSL). Through this partnership agreement, the LIJSL IberCup Champion receives an automatic invitation, and paid acceptance into the prestigious event, with the team’s hotel, meals and ground transportation costs paid for by IberCup USA. The value of the package is estimated to be more than $10,000.
IberCup USA representative Jim Vogt said, “We selected the LIJSL because of the overall competitiveness of the league, especially at the Pre-Academy level.”
So the top four teams from the recently-completed Fall Season in the LIJSL Boys-Under-14 Premier Division qualified for the IberCup Final Four last Saturday.
In one semifinal game, #1 seed Hauppauge Hurricanes shut out #4 Stony Brook Santos on three second half goals––two by Mark Aliscio and one by Luke Augeri. Despite the 3-0 loss, Stony Brook coach Bill Casey went home happy, stating, “This event is great! It’s competitive with a trip to Dallas on the line with teams playing in good games after the season is over.”
In the other semifinal, #3 seed Uniondale Aguila upended #2 Huntington Boys Club AOs, 2-1. Alex Alas and Brian Garcia scored the goals for Uniondale while Kieran Hasselbeck scored for HBC on a penalty kick.
“This is a tremendous event,” commented HBC coach John Veneziano. “It’s an opportunity to play at the end of November with a chance to advance to a great tournament.”
In the title game, Hauppauge topped Uniondale, 2-1, to win the inaugural IberCup Final Four title. Hauppauge is also the defending state champs, having won the State Open Cup in the Eastern New York Youth Soccer Association (ENYYSA) last June.
Hauppauge’s Brandon Palma scored in the third minute when he got to the ball near the goal first but Uniondale’s William Sanchez knotted the score at 1-1 midway through the first half when he scored off a 22-yard free kick that went into the upper corner. Hauppauge had the better of play after the start of the second half, when Aliscio scored the winning goal on a 10-yard rebound.
Steve Padaetz, LIJSL’s Director of Member Services and its Competitions Chair, said after the championship game, “Hauppauge, every time they were challenged, raised the bar throughout the season.”
The two coaches were very complimentary of the IberCup Final Four, saying similar things. Hauppauge coach Gennaro Iamunno said, “This is a great event and a great opportunity for the teams,” while Uniondale coach Abraham Villalobos stated, “It’s perfect for the boys to have the opportunity to qualify for a trip to Dallas.”