Soccer showcase draws college coaches

By on August 3, 2011

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer

Photo by Preston Whitcraft
As far as the eye could see last weekend, soccer games took center stage on the fields around Warwick High School as part of the annual Lititz Summer Showcase.Photo by Preston Whitcraft
As far as the eye could see last weekend, soccer games took center stage on the fields around Warwick High School as part of the annual Lititz Summer Showcase.

For King’s College head women’s soccer coach Frank Carrozza, the drive to Lititz last weekend was about two and a half hours.

Jim Herlinger, the head coach for the Pitt-Johnstown women’s team, was on the road for a little bit longer than that.

Others were traveling longer distances.

But for all of them, it was well worth their effort to get to the annual Lititz Summer Soccer Showcase, which was held last Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31.

"I like (this tournament)," said Carrozza, a former assistant at Misericordia College. "To be honest with you, it gives us a pretty good draw. Between working at Misericordia and Kings, we’ve always got kids from this showcase. It’s been beneficial for us definitely."

Certainly, there are enough opportunities for coaches to get a look at potential recruits. This year, there were 204 teams with players ranging in age from 9 to 19 years old putting their skills on display at the showcase.

"We have 116 college coaches that have registered for the tournament," director Mike Logan said. "There’s others that like to come in and slip under the radar and not let anybody know they’re here. So we’re probably in excess of (116 college coaches)."

Many of those coaches were on hand at Grosh Field on Friday night for a showcase event featuring three 30-minute girls games and two 30-minute boys games. Rain and lightning disrupted the opening contest, but it turned out to be a successful affair nonetheless.

"There’s a couple of girls that told me they were playing, so I already got to see them for a little bit," Herlinger said during the weather delay. "It kinda gives you a preview. They’re playing with other people that they’re not used to, so you see how they read the game and how well they know to communicate. Then (Saturday), you’ll get to see them with their teammates. Anytime you can see people play, it beats sitting in the office."

Logan was also getting positive feedback about the first-year Friday night showcase.

"I was talking to the Temple coach about this," he said. "He said he loves it because when a college coach is out (on Saturday and Sunday), he’s got to spread himself out over 12 fields and go all over the place. And he might be at a field for 10 to 15 minutes. (But) these girls are going to get 50 minutes of dedicated looks because they’re not going anywhere else. They’re right here. So that’s pretty lucky."

There were roughly 35 college coaches who registered for Friday’s showcase. Although the seats around the stadium weren’t packed, Logan didn’t expect them to be for an exhibition.

"I expected to see about 30 coaches in the stands and the same amount of parents because there’s 30 kids," Logan said at the outset of the girls games. "There could be 80 or a hundred people here. For the first year for this, that’s outstanding."

Of course, depending on each coach’s needs, they could be there for different reasons. In a lot of cases, players will communicate with them by email or telephone prior to the tournament, and that makes their job a little easier when they get there.

In the case of York College women’s assistant Al Chesnavage, he was looking to find some players to help fill the shoes of nine players who graduated last year. He and head coach Vicki Sterner do most of the scouting for the Lady Spartans.

"We’re really rebuilding the whole defense, midfield and some of our offensive players," Chesnavage said. "So these (tournaments) are key. It’s a pretty good tournament and we get some really good talent. We get some really good looks at some of the girls."

As a result of their scouting efforts from last year at the Lititz Summer Showcase and other tourneys, the Lady Spartans have 48 players coming in for tryouts, including 20 returnees.

"We’ll take notes and hopefully highlight the girls that really stand out," Chesnavage said. "(With the) local talent, we’re hoping to get at least four or five quality players out of this. (The Lititz Summer Showcase) is right up there. It’s pretty high on our list. It’s a local tournament, it’s close and we get some really good talented players here."

Meanwhile, Herlinger likes the team he has for the 2011 season. But with just one senior on the 2012 squad, he was looking to help build up his roster.

"We always want more," Herlinger said. "You want competition for positions and that I have want that. They want people to push each other so that you don’t have people getting comfortable saying, ‘I’m going to play no matter what.’ I don’t have a limit as to how many I have. Last year, we played five JV games too. So if I have the numbers, I’ll play games. That’s how you develop players."

The Mountain Cats’ skipper came to the Lititz Summer Showcase with an open mind about the types of players that he wanted.

"I’ll take someone that can step in and I’ll take someone I can develop," Herlinger said. "You can’t be too picky. We’re Division-II, so we have some money but not as much as a lot. Sometimes we’ve got to get a player that’s got the potential and maybe hasn’t had the experience, and try to help develop them."

Carrozza, meanwhile, is trying to rebuild the women’s program at Division-III Kings College, so the Lititz Summer Showcase was an important weekend for him.

"We usually do about a three-hour radius — that’s pretty good for our budget to recruit in," Carrozza said. "I think (the Lititz Showcase) has always been very well run and we’ve gotten some quality kids out of it, so I enjoy it."

Overall, with more than 100 coaches attending the showcase, there’s a good chance that they are going to run into some of their competitors along the way. But the interaction is almost always positive.

"It’s good," Carrozza said. "You get to meet them, have pretty good friendships, exchange some stories. It’s a good time. I can’t complain."

Logan was also having a good time, albeit a busy one. Still, he said the most hectic part of their job was finished by the time the Lititz Summer Showcase finally arrived. Overall, teams from as far away as Canada, Massachusetts, Washington and West Virginia made the trip to Lititz and more than 500 games were played on 25 fields. There were roughly 10,000 visitors to the area related to the tournament.

"Our first meeting’s in January and it starts getting really frenzied and hectic maybe the last couple of weeks because this is an international tournament, so we have to check credentials of all the players, all the coaches (and) all the teams," Logan said. "They have to have player passes and medical releases if they’re coming from another country. This international (showcase) game, in the eyes of the FIFA world organization, is no different credentially than a World Cup match. But honestly, people say, ‘It must be really bad Saturday and Sunday.’ That’s the easy part. The 500 games that are going on and (organizing) the hundreds of hours and officials from all over the country is the easy part once we get it going. But it’s shaping up very, very good this year."

Check the Aug. 11 issue of the Lititz Record for a story about Warwick High School star Macaulay Soto and New Zealand player Erinna Wong teaming up to play with a Washington team in the Lititz Summer Showcase. Also, the Lititz Record sports department will accept photos of participating teams through the Aug. 18 issue. Deadline to submit photos is Monday, Aug. 15 at 5 p.m. More SOCCER, page B6

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