- February 12, 2012
Soccer fans in Flagler County got a glimpse of English football on Oct. 11, and it wasn't by watching the English Premier League on TV.
It was a different kind of Friday night lights at the Indian Trails Sports Complex. It was futbol instead of football, and the feature game was the PDA Florida U16/U17s vs. West Ham United’s U16 youth academy club on the first night of play in the GIS Cup soccer tournament.
The Hammers, as they’re called in England, maintained most of the possession during the match en route to a 4-0 win over a PDA Florida team that featured many players from Flagler Palm Coast and Matanzas high schools.
The West Ham team had four players who recently were a part of England’s youth national team, said Rich Weber, of PDA Florida.
“It was great. They were quality, and we’ve never played anyone like those guys,” PDA Florida captain Nate Monsanto said after the game.
Mansanto, who is a junior midfielder for Flagler Palm Coast, said the biggest difference with the West Ham team compared to teams he normally plays was the speed of play.
Mistakes on the pitch are magnified, too.
“It’s so much faster,” he said. “And here, if you make a mistake, they can score quickly.”
West Ham took a 1-0 lead about midway through the first half. The Hammers then scored three second-half goals. PDA Florida’s best goal-scoring chance came off a cross into the penalty box. Striker Stanley Joseph, who also plays for FPC, rose high above the defenders, but his header sailed over the crossbar.
The tournament, which took place Friday through Sunday, featured more than 80 teams ages U9 to U19.
“Based on the first night, this is the best soccer we’ve seen here in town in a really long time, if ever,” said Reg Monsanto, of PDA Florida. “To be on the field with them is phenomenal for these guys.”