The Columbus United Soccer Club continues to make its mark.
The Columbus United Under-14 boys soccer team won the championship at the Clinton Fall Invitational Sept. 24-25. It is the first time a Columbus team has won the tournament.
The Columbus United team was the only team from the Northern District to reach the finals in any age group.
“The U-14 boys team is an example of the type of progress that has been made,” Columbus U-14 coach Tom Velek said. “Two years ago, there was no U-14 boys program in the area. This year, the team began the season ranked No. 8 in the state.”
Beginning its fourth year, Columbus United not only has met its goal of establishing a permanent soccer club in the area, it has begun to attract players back from other programs.
“It is gratifying this year that we already have players from Hamilton, Caledonia, New Hope, and Columbus,” Velek said. “We have a player that left Tupelo Futbol Club to come back and play at home with United.
“It is clear United is not a ‘one-and-done’ program. It is here year after year. It has stayed focused on it central goals of player and coaching development and wider competition. United teams can now compete throughout the state, and the best teams are competing regionally.
In Clinton, Columbus United defeated Northwest Rankin (3-0), Jackson Futbol Club (7-1), and Pearl Gold (5-1) in bracket play. Columbus beat Florence (4-1) in the semifinals before defeating Pearl Blue (3-1) in the title game. The team played most of the match down one man after Avery Velek was sent off with a red card for an inadvertent handball in the box.
Columbus also had to play without scoring threat Kobe Van Someren, who went out with an injury.
Led by a strong defense, Columbus rallied from a 1-0 deficit to win the championship. The defense allowed only four goals in five matches, as backs Velek, Daniel Longmire, A.J. Reed, Andy Blakney, Caleb Gurley, and McKellar Fishel supported goalkeeper Eli Hemphill.
“Fishel really stepped up in the championship match and
took over in the right back position when Velek was sent off,” Columbus United coach Tom Velek.
Scorers for the team included Quaid Phillips, Reed, Van Someren, Anthony Maleta, Eric Dunaway, James Longmire, Charles Stanback, Will Rollins, and Gurley.
Columbus United will play host to Amory and the Central Jackson Soccer Club on Saturday at the Joe Cook Fields. Matches will start at 10 a.m.
Registration for Columbus United Soccer Club is open for boys and girls ages U10 to U19. The Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority’s U-8 Development Program, which provides enhanced training and wider competition for U-8 players, also has opened registration.
For additional information go to clra.net, Facebook and search Columbus United Soccer Club, contact Greg Lewis at 327-4935 or Thomas Velek at email@example.com.
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