By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — Up until now, a Goshen travel soccer team has never made it to a national tournament.
Up until now.
The Goshen Stars, a U13 team, refently qualified for nationals next month in Florida. The Stars, champions of Region IV, will travel to Auburndale, Fla. July 11-14 to play in the Presidents Cup, the national tournament for U.S. Youth Soccer.
Team manager Millard Graber said the local team is made of of 12-and-13-year-old players — primarily middle-schoolers.
Most of the players also play middle school soccer, Graber said, so soccer truly is a year-round proposition.
“These guys get to know each other really well, since they play together so often,” Graber said.
Most of the current team has been playing together since they were about 9, Graber said.
That kind of familiarity has helped breed some pretty amazing team chemistry, several team members said as they prepared to practice on a muggy summer evening earlier this week.
Manuel Castillo, a defender, said defense has been the key to the Stars’ tournament run so far. The Stars gave up just one goal in their three-game regional tournament run earlier this month.
Defense, Castillo said, can be an area where knowing your teammates can come in handy.
”Most of us have been playing together for awhile,” Castillo said.
Sergio Gonzalez, another defender, said he and his teammates will have to step their game up even further in the national tournament.
Especially on defense.
“Our teammwork has been great all season,” Gonzalez said. “We have to keep talking to each other on the field. Especially in the back on defense, communication is important.”
The Stars were 9-1 in their league season and so far are a perfect 8-0 in tournament play.
Several fundraisers have been set up to help the team defray the cost of the upcoming Florida trip for the national tournament. A garage sale has been slated for this weekend at 504 Oatfield Lane in Goshen, both today and Sunday.
And next Sunday, July 7, a car wash has been scheduled for the Burger King in Dunlap, from about 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
In addition, anyone wanting to help the team with a donation can send a check to 1512 E. Lincoln Ave., Goshen, IN 46528. Since the Goshen Stars soccer program is a nonprofit organization completely staffed by volunteers, donations are tax-deductible.