One look at the roster and it’s a who’s who of All-Western New York High School Boys Soccer players, so it’s no wonder why they’re going to represent the western half of NYS in the US Youth Soccer Regionals later this month in Spotsylvania, Virginia.
Nine players on the roster earned themselves post-season honors from the high school season, with five of them earning All-Western New York first team.
However, the strength of the FC Buffalo Academy 18U team is not their Top-9 or even their starting 11 but the entire 18-man roster.
According to Nate Nuwer, the depth of the team the biggest key to their success this season.
“This team has depth.” Nuwer said. “We have the same heart and intensity that we’ve always had. But this team skill wise has the depth.”
The FC Buffalo 18U Academy team has had a strong 2017 campaign so far. They have an overall record of 10-2-3 this season. They have won the Eastern Regional League Men’s U18 Premier Red Division and the Potomac Memorial soccer showcase, which is one of the top showcases on the east coast, in late May. Earlier this month, they won the NYS West State Cup which earned them a spot in regionals.
Veterans of the team such as Garrett Robinson were proud to be able to win the State Cup this year after losing last year.
“This means a lot to me,” Robinson said. “It’s a special thing to be able to do. Every single one of us is to excited to go to Regionals.”
The 18 players on the team come from 11 different schools. The players come from as far south as East Aurora and as far north as Newfane to play for FC Buffalo Academy.
The team began practicing back in October to get ready for the season that began in March.
Nuwer noticed that the team had chemistry pretty early.
“We had five new guys on the team and they fit in right away,” Nuwer said. “We always play each other in high school so there’s a little friendly competition. So being able to play with them adds to the excitement.”
Playing on a team such as FC Buffalo means not only playing with and against higher level competition but it also means a lot of long car rides and new experiences with your teammates.
Being able to spend time with his teammates is always something Jackson Retzer looks forward to.
“Those 9-hour trips to Virginia are the trips you live for,” Retzer said. “It’s all chemistry building. It shows you’re here to play.”
FC Buffalo has high hopes as they head to regionals in two weeks. The tournament will include many of the top teams from all-across the northeast. The event begins with round robin play of three games in hopes of reaching the semifinals and finals.
Their strong depth should come in handy as they could play five games in five days if all goes well for them.
It’s something that they’ve had all season according to coach Ian Martin.
“Every time we sub a kid in or out, we don’t lose talent any skill level or any hustle,” Martin said. “They’re all on the same level.”
In 2015, when the team went to regionals they played even with the Arlington Eagles, the top ranked team in the country at the time, for a half.
Martin believes that this year’s team is even stronger.
“Two years ago, we played the number one team in the country we had a less skilled team than we have this year and we had them at 1-1 at halftime,” Martin said.
Nuwer would like to see his team make it to the semifinals, but he knows they need to take it one game at a time.
“New York West teams always have trouble getting out of the first round,” Nuwer said. “We want to get to the final four and have a chance to play on that Monday, but we have to just have to take it one game at a time.”