When the season’s final whistle blew in Lancaster County last month, Chestnut Hill Youth Soccer Club’s Under-12 boys travel soccer teams concluded an unforgettable 2012 seasons marked by record-breaking performances and unprecedented levels of participation.
For the first time ever, a CHYSC travel soccer team — the U-12 boys Blue Lightning — finished undefeated in an Inter-County Soccer League Elite Division, ICSL’s highest level. The U-12 boys White Lightning also made history, competing in ICSL Division 1, the first time that a CHYSC B-team has played at that level. And perhaps most promising for the club’s future, enrollment and volunteer coaching participation grew enough to sustain a third travel team in one age cohort, the Black Lightning, another club milestone.
The Blue Lightning built such a big lead in the ICSL’s Under-12 Boys Elite 8v8 Division that they clinched the crown before Halloween with a 3-2 win against the Anderson Monarchs. The Blue Lightning closed out the ICSL season with a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Soccer Club Dynamo and a 6-2 triumph against the Lighthouse Azzurri to finish with nine wins and one tie in league play.
Blue Lightning Head Coach Peter Lubowitz acknowledged that many were skeptical the team could compete for the Elite title after finishing a distant second place to Hunter United in Division 1 in 2011. The team’s expectations quickly changed in September after a gritty win against a Hunter team that had trounced the Blue Lightning twice last season.
“Our first ICSL game, when we fought hard to come from behind and win 2-1 at Hunter, really set the tone for the whole season,” he said. “That’s when I knew this team had the potential to do something special.”
Averaging almost four goals per game, the Blue Lightning’s offense was fueled by top scorer Philip Burckhardt, who returned after a year’s absence to bolster the team’s already potent arsenal of forwards and offensive midfielders, led by Caleb Perline, Max Lubowitz, Colin Smith, Luke Feeney and Marco Goldberg. Coach Lubowitz acknowledged the selfless play of Jacob Sternberg-Sher, who took on a new role as defensive midfielder. The Blue Lightning’s back line was anchored by defenders and co-captains E.T. Cripe and Sam Webber, fearless goalkeeper Stuart Fleming and defender Noel Forrest, who rejoined the team in November after breaking a leg bone in mid-season.
The White Lightning also made an enormous competitive leap in 2012. After an undefeated championship campaign last year in Division 3, the White Lightning bypassed Division 2 and jumped to Division 1. The team quickly showed they belonged, announcing their arrival with a 7-2 season-opening win over the Langhorne Gunners. Any doubts about the newcomers were permanently erased three weeks later when they pulled off a stunning 3-2 upset on the road against the division’s eventual champions, the Horsham Union. The White Lightning finished the ICSL season 4-4-2.
White Lightning Head Coach Mark Clugston was proud of the way his team handled the promotion to Division 1.
“Every time they faced a new challenge, they really rose to the occasion,” said White Lightning Head Coach Mark Clugston. “They boys performed very well for themselves.”
Defender Stephen Clugston anchored the White Lightning from the back, supported by rangy goalkeeper Jack McDonald, who stopped most of the penalty kicks he faced. Forwards Will McHugh and Morgan Plant tormented defenses all season long with their speed, as did midfielder Robert Spain. Coach Clugston praised CHYSC newcomers Edwin Stitt and Sam Johns, both of whom blossomed into major contributors at midfield, as well as dependable Jackson Craig, Jack Heil, Abi El and Simon L’Tainen.
The Black Lightning came into being after a record number of U-12 boys showed up for tryouts in the summer. Head Coach Dave Younkin stepped in to lead a team with five first-time travel players to a 3-5-2 season in ICSL Division 4 in the squad’s first year of play. A highlight of the season was a 4-2 win at Falls United in October. After losing three consecutive games, the Black Lightning rallied, playing their best game of the season — even earning post-game praise from the referee for their style of play and sportsmanship.
“I’m so proud of the amount of progress our players made,” Younkin said. “By the end of the ICSL season, our kids were playing a thoughtful and strategic brand of soccer.”
The Black Lightning were led by stout defender Tre Douglas, who was cited by Younkin for his relentless effort, as well as a core group of heady midfielders and defenders: James Nalle, Malcolm Campbell-Sydor, Miles Gomez Younkin and Malachi Shapiro. Charles Bristol and Patrick Fehm were superb in goal and sacrificed field time to help the team. Carlo and Sante Filippini put their speed to use as forwards, and Wiley Corlett and Cam Marrow made essential contributions.