The 12U Hamburg Monarchs finished the season without a single loss.
The 12U Monarchs presented as close to a perfect record as a team could get when the girls soccer team headed into the final game of the season against Niagara Pioneer.
Joel Maxson’s Monarchs had won all of their games up to that point, except for one, which ended in a stalemate. They also had already captured the league championship.
“I told them in the beginning that we had a chance to do something special here, so go out there and play hard and enjoy the moment,” said Maxson, who coaches the team with Todd Groth and Steven Pirotta. “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, we had a great season, and we already captured the championship.”
The Monarchs did not come out of Fort Niagara with a victory. Instead, the girls left with a tie, good enough, still, for an undefeated season in the WNY Junior Soccer League Travel “A” division.
“I think they really wanted to win that last game,” said Maxson, whose team finished 11-0-2 after a 2-2 stalemate. The last couple of games we’ve had very good games with them.”
In the tie, the Monarchs always had the lead. Niagara had both of its goals scored by the same player, cutting into 1-0 and 2-1 deficits before Maxson put in his starting defensive lineup.
“It was dicey for the final five minutes,” he said. “We were trying to win the game and they were trying to score to beat us.”
Going undefeated was an impressive feat as practically half of last year’s lineup did not stay intact.
Cailey Beaudoin, Jenna Dickson, Hannah Gorski, Gillian Groth, Megan Mascio, Anjali Silverheels and Isabella Simoncelli all returned from the Monarchs team that only lost two games in 2013.
“That core group is there 95-percent of the time,” he noted. “It’s been a fun group to work with. Very committed and very fun group to work with.”
Newcomers like Tricia Curran, Mara DeLucia, Caroline DiPasquale, Ellen Forehand, Madelyn Ingraham, Abby Kane and Ainsley Pirotta joined the program just in time for the sweet taste of victory.
“We train a lot from November and all the way through Jul,” said Maxwell. “A lot of commitment from the players and the parents. The parents are just as important as the kids because at that age they have to get in there and make that commitment.”
The success of the 12U Monarchs’ summer is an end result of the young soccer programs in the area that Maxson is a part of. First Touch Soccer Academy and the Jr. Bulldogs are two local programs that Maxson runs to get the soccer skills developed at an early age.
“Get them started young,” Maxson said. “Around 8-10, that age group, if you get them started with the skills, they’re going to have success when they get older.
“It’s kind of like the golden age. That 8-10 age range you want to get them passing, shooting and receiving…those core skills.”
First Touch is a soccer organization that is perfect for a tweener; a kid that is too good for house leagues, but may not be ready for polished quite enough for travel ball.
“That’s how First Touch got started,” said Maxson. “We looked at kids that excelled in house leagues, that’s not necessarily travel, but it has more advanced training.
“A lot of people come to me and say ‘Is there something for the kids above house level. My daughter’s doing very well, but I want to see her work more on her personal skills.’ And that’s where I come in and help out.
Though the girls have the option to go up to 14-under for next season, Maxson will just move his crew up to 13-under to try to get one more full year with the crew, as the Monarchs will try to repeat another undefeated season.
“I don’t talk about winning a lot. I just talk about going out and competing,” said Maxson. “So that kind of philosophy has worked.”