Return to Sports
by Mike Nutter
(June 13)The North Central United 14-and-under soccer team recently captured the State Cup tournament held in Morgantown.
The team, which is made up of players from Bridgeport, Clarksburg and Morgantown, has compiled a 20-2-2 record thus far, and along with the State Cup, has earned recognition by winning other state-level events.
Earlier this season, the team captured the Huntington East/West Invitational Shoot Out.
NCU is back in action this weekend in the second round of the Snickers Cup in Wheeling.
A win there would give them a berth in the national regional tournament held in Erie, Pa.
In the State Cup, Lance Reif scored the team's only goal in the 1-0 win over the Wood County Thunder.
While NCU coach Dave Cluphf has been "pleasantly surprised" by his team's success, teaching the basics is his primary concern.
Cluphf previously served as Bridgeport High School's soccer coach, and noticed lack of fundamentals in many of the incoming freshman.
"My biggest lament as a high school coach was how weak the freshmen coming in were," Cluphf said. "I'm trying to work with these kids now so that they can go in as freshmen and make an impact."
Although just in his first year as coach, Cluphf has high praise for his group, and already sees a lot of improvement.
"This is a real smart group of kids," Cluphf said. "They have been learning really fast, and already I can see the difference in them as compared to the last three or four groups of freshmen that came in."
Participation in the league is a testament to the commitment each player has for soccer, according to Cluphf.
"We've had kids that have given up other sports to do this," Cluphf said. "I really think, though, that the high schools are starting to see the payoff pretty quick.
"Hopefully, down the road some of these kids might be able to work themselves into some college scholarships."
The season begins with an indoor league in December, and then heads outdoors in March, with a little break in between.
"It started out kind of slow, but now it is really starting to pick up," said Lance Reif. "We've learned a lot from coach and I really think that this will help me for next year."
Still, other team members see the opportunity as a great chance to play soccer around the state.
"I think the best part about playing is all of the traveling that we get to do," said Spencer Caplan. "Playing in this is a big advantage, because most of the people that play in high school just play once a year. We get to play almost year round."
Despite all of his team's previous success, Cluphf views this weekend's semifinals as a true indicator of how far the team has come.
"This weekend will be hard," Cluphf said. "Our first game is against a team that we have beaten three times. There are also two other teams in it that we have either tied or beaten.
"This is really where we can judge whether or not we can hang with the best in West Virginia."
Team members include: Lance Reif, Chad Amodio, Chris Williams, Tyler Williams, Nathaniel Zinn, Ryan Light, Samuel Iaquinta, Matthew Stucky, Jimmy Nolan, Matt Blood, Jason Manning, Ryan Yager, Josh McEldowney, Mason Williams, Spencer Caplan, and Kris DeNardi.