|South Jersey Soccer:
PDL Eastern Conference Playoffs this Weekend at Ocean City
Monday, July 25, 2005
By Paul O'Donnell
PDL Eastern Conference Playoffs
The Eastern Conference has produced the PDL National Championship team in three of the last four seasons. In 2001 it was the Westchester Flames, then came the back-to-back championships by the Cape Cod Crusaders in 2002 & 2003. Last year's champion, the Central Florida Kraze, were taken to Pks by the conference champ, the Carolina Dynamo, in one of the national semifinals.
There is more than just an outside chance that the PDL National Champion for 2005 could come from one of the four teams that will face off this weekend in Ocean City. The semifinals will be played on Saturday, July 30, with the first match kickoff set for 5pm. The semifinal winners will play for the conference title on Sunday. Kickoff at 7:30.
Ocean City Barons (12-3-1)
The Barons are back where they wanted to be; in the conference playoffs and poised to take that next step along the path to the national championship match. Lead by a strong attacking force of Tony Donatelli (9G, 5A), Ruben Mingo (10G, 7A) and Byron Carmichael (9G, 4A) with the robust support of Ryan Heins, Adam Williamson, Steve Wacker, Adam Sternberger, Michael Todd, Matt Maher and company the Barons present a stiff challenge for any team in this competition.
The strong back four of Tommy Greenawalt, John Thompson, Joe Brocker and Andy Tait are also hoping to see the return of Chris Williams (injury) to bolster the defense in front of keeper Ryan Carr.
Cape Cod Crusaders (13-2-1)
A perennial playoff team and two-time PDL national champion, the Crusaders were lead this year by newcomer Andrew Metcalf (15G, 4A) who joined his teammate from the Univ of Memphis Dayton O'Brien for the 2005 campaign.
Cape Cod is a talented team with the likes of Metcalf, O'Brien, Chris Joyce, PJ Scheufele, John Krause, Fred Schramm and Kurt Morsink all playing key roles for the Crusaders.
Strong play on their backline and a solid keeper in Alim Karim make this team a difficult puzzle to solve for any opponent. The Crusaders not only lead the conference in goal production with 50, they also conceded only 22 on the regular season run to the division title.
Richmond Kickers Future (12-2-2)
The Kickers Future are lead by the dynamic offensive duo of Cristian Neagu (15G, 12A, 42pts; #1 in the PDL) and Dominic Oduro (15G, 7A, 37pts). Ian Holder (4G) and Francis McCardle (2G,3A) add significant contributions as well. The Kickers Future not only score often (43) their fine keeper Andrew Dykstra recorded 5 shutouts on the regular season. The Future's gaudy record on the road of 7-0-1 with a +16GD is evidence of their quality play at home or away.
The Future, the last of the PDL's undefeated teams in 2005, lost that status on the final weekend losing to the Dynamo on Friday 3-2, and West Virginia Chaos on Sunday 4-3.
Raleigh CASL Elite (8-4-3)
Offensively the Elite are lead by Aaron King (10G, 1A), Spencer Wadsworth (6G, 8A), Stephen Bickford (5G, 3A) and Ryan Deter (5G, 1A). Worthy of note for the Elite is that 15 different players have scored at least one goal on the season of the teams total of 40.
The other side of the ledger is a different story for Raleigh as they have conceded more often (29) than any of the other playoff teams. That results in the lowest positive goal difference (+11) among their competition in this group.
The opening match on Saturday July 30 will have Cape Cod v Raleigh at 5pm followed by the Ocean City Barons v Richmond Kickers Future at 7:30. The Eastern Conference Final will be held on Sunday with the kickoff at 7:30.
Be there to see all the action and which of these four teams will go on to the PDL National Championship weekend.