South Jersey Soccer:
Friday, May 28, 1999
By Jerry Amari
This year, 157 teams (roughly 2300 players) are registered to play in the three day event. Teams/clubs are coming to play from Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern and Central New Jersey, and Long Island New York.
The participating teams are separated by age and quality of play during the regular season. Vineland will have divisions from Under-9 Boys thru Under-17 years of age. The girls will play in Under-9 thru Under-17. Vineland Soccer Association's host teams are:
This year's tournament has more "out of the area" teams than ever before. Case in point, all Motels in the Vineland, Millville, and Hammonton area are "booked solid" for the Memorial Day weekend. Some teams are staying in West Atlantic City, Somers Point, and one squad has reservations for North Wildwood.
Fourth year Tournament director, Mike Jones feels "The Vineland tournament is changing from being a local (South Jersey) affair, into a truely regional event. Every year some club from out-of-state surprises us with their application." Mr. Jones mails hundreds of applications out to clubs starting in January every year. Jones reported, "We get all kinds of inquiries, from soccer magazines, meetings, and the internet. Next year we hope to have an on-line registration form on the Vineland Soccer website to make registration easier for teams." Jones feels next year's tournament will contain a premier division in every age group.
Local defending Champions from 1998 tournament: U-11B Hurricanes, now U-12B, and the U-13B Stampede, now U-14 Spartans.
Jerry's predictions for 1999 tournament: U-12G Lightning went undefeated in the regular season and are on a roll and should sweep their competition. U-15B Lynx had an excellent Olympic Division season. It's a total team effort by the Lynx, Coach Lou Sepers squad could go all the way this year.
Jer's Sleeper Picks: Never count out the defending champion U-12B Hurricanes. The U-10B Tigersharks have been hot and cold all year, if they get hot, they'll bite off a championship. The U-11G Crusaders have been solid all spring. The U-16B Blue Devils are in the most talented division of the tournament and they may be the suprise VSA team of the tournament. The U-14B Spartans need a strong tournament showing to disprove the results of their spring season.
The Vineland Tournament has hosted everything from locally sponsored clubs to state championship squads over the years. Local youth soccer players agree, "It's great to play in a big tournament in your hometown. It's exciting to see all the teams in their different colored uniforms playing at our soccer complex." said Vineland Hurricane Michael Amari.
VSA is constantly working on improving its fields. Board member Horst Lutter spoke about the soccer complex. "Every year one of our 10 fields at Spring and Maple Ave. is targeted for action. Currently our best field is No. 10. That field had a 7ft. pitch, with proper leveling and watering it is now our best field." Visiting teams are impressed with the upgraded fields at the Vineland Soccer Complex.
The 11th annual Tournament will play at five(5) sites around Vineland:
Throughout the tournament games are schedule at Gittone Stadium, however on Monday (the last day of the tournament) all games played at the Stadium will be for Division Championships.
A moment of silence has been observed by Vineland Soccer Association for our fallen soldiers who has served this country for the freedoms we have today in America.
An assortment of vendors will be set up at the main complex (Spring & Maple) selling food, collectable cards, sport clothing and more on Saturday and Sunday.
Local resturants, shops, and businesses are gearing up for the exta visitors in our area.
VSA President John Gregor says "This is a first rate event for the City of Vineland and its Chamber of Commerce. Together with the help of the Dept. of Recreation, our fields keep improving, and the 7000 visitors to our town will return next year." (150 teams x 15 players = 2250 x 2 parents = 4500 people +2250 = approx. 7000)
Local clubs: Vineland, A.C. Michaels, Gaetanos, Pittsgrove, Millville, Cohansey.
Far away clubs: Kirkwood, DE, Upper Bucks, PA, Garden City, NY, Clifton Park, NY, East Meadows, NY, Ramapo, NJ.
There will be a short opening ceremony with Vineland Mayor Anthony Campenella and VSA President John Gregor before 8am on Saturday at the main complex, Spring & Maple.
In recent years, visiting teams have compliemented our Association about matches played at Gittone Stadium. "Playing in Gittone Stadium gives a very professional feeling to the players. They can look up and see spectators in the stands. It's different than playing at a regular field." says VSA Board member Wendy Gregor.
©1999 South Jersey Sports Online