By Tom Schmitt

For the Mirror

Spring travel soccer has just begun, and numbers of teams and participants are extremely high this year.

The Altoona/Hollidaysburg region FC814 is loaded with teams registered to play. They have 14 Classic teams in the PA West, four of those in Division 1, seven in Division 2 and three in Division 3. They have 25 registered teams for travel soccer at D5.

The in-house soccer program has grown considerably with 301 players currently registered. It ranges from U5 to U14 years in age. Its number of registered players in the PA West Soccer Association is second only to Beadling Soccer Club, which is America’s oldest club.

The soccer club will be utilizing a number of fields for home games including: Mansion Park, Hollidaysburg Golden Tiger Stadium, Keith Field, Altoona Intramural Field and Greenwood Fields.

Several teams have already distinguished themselves early in the season. The Hooligans boys team out of FC 814, last year’s state champion, played in the EDP Spring Classic in Hammonton, N.J., recently, winning the championship in strong fashion. They won all four games and outscored opponents 9-0 along the way. They look to be poised for another extremely successful season.

Last year’s finalist for the national championship at the National Presidents Cup, the U-14 Energy girls squad out of FC 814 and coached by Marc Fry, just traveled to the Jefferson Cup in Richmond, Va., and won the Classic Black Division. This is the largest tournament in the U.S. Along the way, it beat the Georgia State Cup champions and the 37th-ranked team in the nation.

The Jefferson Cup Invitational accepted 1,700 teams from all over the country. The Energy will be playing in the Great Lakes Conference this year at the national level, competing against teams from the PA West, NY West and Ohio in their Premier 2 Division. The Energy is now nationally ranked in the Top 100 teams in its age group.

FC 814 Director of Coaching, Maurice Taylor, will be taking his u-12 boys Mutiny Classic team to play in the PA West. They head into the spring season on the heels of an incredibly successful indoor season. The Mutiny won both u-12 indoor leagues at the Summit Tennis and Athletic Club without giving up a game.

Elsewhere …

n The head men’s soccer coaching position at Penn State Altoona has opened up again. One of the biggest obstacles faced is that the coaching position is only part-time, and a coach must not only recruit players, but handle all administrative duties and coaching requirements with all players. This needs to be a full time position in order to assure longevity of coaches.

n On the PSU Altoona women’s side of soccer, longtime coach Pam Snyder has lost her assistant coach and is in search of a replacement.

n On the scholastic level, Hollidaysburg Area School District Athletic Director Homer DeLattre announced that the school district has hired a replacement for retiring varsity girls soccer coach Dave Soellner.

Tristan delGiudice, head coach of the junior high boys program for the past six years, will be stepping into the position. delGiudice also coaches for the area soccer club, FC 814, and has two sons who’ve have played in the Hollidaysburg boys soccer program under coach Craig Shale.

Soellner retires as the Hollidaysburg girls’ winningest soccer coach, with six district championships in 14 years at the helm. During his coaching career at Hollidaysburg, Soellner garnered 168 wins.

Tom Schmitt writes a monthly soccer column for the Mirror.

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