The 2018 Eastern Pennsylvania Turkey Hill Challenge Cup Finals are taking place June 2 and June 3 at PA Classics Soccer Park. We'll be publishing stories throughout the day with updates from the action.
Donegal Gets In On The Act
"It's a chemistry thing," said Donegal goalkeeper Gavin Murren. "We've all grown up together."
Donegal isn't a household name in soccer. But in the soccer hotbed of Lancaster, they stand out every once in awhile. Like other smaller clubs, they rely on community. These are close-knit teams and friends that cross school districts at times.
Murren is a relatively new addition to the team, although he's known his teammates for years. In the U17 Boys final, he backstopped Donegal to a 1-0 win over PA Rush Nero. The wind was up, the field was muddy but the sheet was clean.
"The first half I couldn't kick the ball past half, and the second half came around I was putting it on the other 18," said Murren. "I'm just happy I kept the ball out of the net."
As a result, Donegal has a cup championship.
High School Teammates Go Out On Top
Kylie Torrens is headed off to Kutztown University in the fall and her youth soccer career is coming to a close. That's the case with most under-19 players, but not all get to leave with a cup trophy. Torrens and Berks Ajax Express defeated Penn Alliance, 1-0, to go off on top.
"Most years this was a tournament kind of team," said Torrens. "A lot of us play other sports."
That meant they played off and on in the spring. This year, the added under-19 age group in the Turkey Hill Challenge Cup gave Torrens and her teammates, Boyertown and Daniel Boone High School students, a shot at glory.
Turkey Hill Challenge Cup Finals | June 2 | PA Classics Soccer Park
PA Classics Defend Home Turf
In the U10 Boys A final, PA Classics completed a unique feat: they won 4-2, over FC Europa Elite, and had four goal-scorers. That's a pretty decent effort considering Classics only had eight players, seven field players and a goalie.
"(It's a) great group of boys, hardworking kids," said their coach, Alex Radovic. "It was a team effort. Everyone contributed."
The team also made home field advantage stand up. They were the only PA Classics side in action on a day everyone was on their turf.
"That feels great," said Radovic. "They're happy and excited."
LebCo United Thorns Don't Have To Travel Far To Celebrate State Title
LebCo United Thorns defeated PA Rush Nero White, 2-0, to claim the Under-14 Girls Turkey Hill Challenge Cup. That the Thorns were close to home was a benefit, a practical one, but a benefit still.
"It was nice not having to drive all that way," said Paige Thomas (pictured above with Lily Young).
And yet Thomas admitted she was nervous early. Those nerves went away as LebCo controlled the game. Now there's just relief and excitement.
"I think it was so cool and overwhelming that we actually won the (Challenge) Cup," said Young.
6 ABC Meteorologist Cecily Tynan Takes In U12 Boys Cup Final
The U12 Boys Turkey Hill Challenge Cup final was a back-and-forth affair, with VE Kanoniere and Rose Tree Galaxy trading goals. Through all the noise and excitement, one recognizable voice stood out from the crowd.
"It's fun cheering from the sideline," said Cecily Tynan, Action News chief meteorologist with 6 ABC. "I'm very loud. I admit."
Tynan's son, Luke Watson, plays for Rose Tree. Although the Galaxy came up short, losing 3-2, just getting to the final was a huge accomplishment for the Media-based club.
"Rose Tree, my son's team, was so thrilled to get here," Tynan said. "It's a well-organized tournament. It's exciting. They came here, and they felt like they were in the World Cup in a way."
Tynan also had time to use her expertise. The weather for Saturday originally called for storms. Instead, sunshine, heat and humidity dominated the day--but no rain or lightning.
"You know, I was hoping the storms stayed south," said Tynan. "And honestly, on Thursday, it looked like it was going to be a wash out. And then yesterday everything shifted south."
Perhaps more cup finals will be in the forecast for Rose Tree.
Ukrainian Nationals Win One Last One For Their Coach
"That's why it was really big for us. I think he was proud of us, because it's been a goal for us for awhile."
That goal, according to Anna DiMartile of the Ukrainian Nationals, would be a cup championship; "he" would be coach John Wierzbowski. Wierzbowksi got choked up addressing his team following their 3-1 win over Lehigh Valley United in the U11 Girls A Turkey Hill Challenge Cup Final. This was his last cup game as their head coach. Several of his players hugged him before receiving their winners' medals and parents shook his hand. There was gratitude and a bittersweet sentiment to go with their trophy.
But it was a terrific achievement, and one everyone involved with it will cherish.
"It felt really good," Anna continued, "because our team has worked very hard for this win. And I think for everybody, it was a great moment."
Lehigh Valley United U9 Boys Find Inspiration From Within
Trophies can be a tremendous motivator, whether they're gathered under a tent at the cup finals or being displayed at a club's headquarters. The latter of those scenarios played out for Lehigh Valley United Black. The under-9 boys outfit defeated VE Wolfe, 4-0, in the Turkey Hill Challenge Cup A final. In doing so, they achieved one of their goals.
"I think the big thing for them is where they train, we have all the trophies the club has won over the years," said coach Brendan McIntryre. "When they come into training, they see all these trophies. They're very young and they feel like they want to contribute to that."
Lehigh Valley United is one of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer's most storied clubs. In other words, that trophy case is pretty full and probably could use an addition; not only did the u9 boys win, the under-9 girls LVU team won the Challenge Cup as well, defeating Philadelphia Soccer Club, 7-1.
"It's funny. At training this week, everyone was like, 'I really want to put a trophy in the case,'" said McIntryre. "I don't really talk about it in terms of, 'You have to win a trophy.' I think just the environment there in, they see it. And that's motivating in itself."
Phoenixville's Win Signals A Club On The Rise
Phoenixville Area Soccer Club Fire has a knack for finding the back of the net. They bagged 29 goals in their five games leading into the final and eight more in a 8-5 win over Fishtown Mutiny to claim the U9 Boys B Turkey Hill Challenge Cup.
"Lots of goals," said Phoenixville coach Nick Spillane. "It keeps it entertaining. That's what the kids like to do: score goals."
Spillane called his young team "a great group to play with and a great group to coach." He also credited club Director of Coaching Mike Pryor for pushing Phoenixville to new heights. The Fire's cup win is an excellent start for such a young team.
"He's changed the club," said Spillane of Pryor. "He's done a great job. It shows the improvement. It's coming to fruition."
Deep Run Valley Black Embraces Championship Moment
Deep Run Valley Black coach Ryan Rabinowitz summed up his team's U9 Girls B Turkey Hill Challenge Cup title perfectly. The Bucks County based club defeated Buckingham United, 4-3.
"It's been fantastic," said Rabinowitz. "To have these girls at such a young age experience something like this, they'll remember it for the rest of their lives, and you can't take that away from them. This is a good group of girls. They work hard. And to see them rewarded like this is terrific."